Owning a dog can be a highly rewarding experience and going out on walks with your beloved furry friend can be the highlight of your day. Everybody knows that your dog should be exercised daily and yet some dog owners are simply unaware of the unwritten code of conduct when it comes to being out in public with your dog. On one half an hour dog walk this morning in a popular dog walking spot I came across several owners responsible for giving us dog walkers a bad reputation. During this walk I saw:
So what is the unwritten code of conduct I was talking about?
1. Dogs should ONLY be let off the lead if you know they are going to go back to you straight away.
Poor recall is quite a simple issue to fix and yet there were about 6 dogs who either disobeyed their owners by not returning or weren’t even correctly recalled in the first place. You may be mistaken in thinking that it is a dogs right to run around freely in a public park and I too as an owner cherish the opportunity to let my dogs off the lead however I understand that not all dogs are going to be friendly with others. As a professional dog walker I am responsible for the care of several reactive dogs who are nervous around other dogs. These dogs are kept on lead unless in a secure, quiet area where I know they cannot be threatened and yet it seems to be my fault when those dogs snap or growl at an out of control off-lead dog who is bounding towards them because their owners are 100 metres behind them. This leads me to rule number two.
2. If you see a dog coming towards you that is on a lead, call your dog back and put them on a lead too.
These dogs may not just be on a lead because they are reactive and likely to snap, they could be in training, recovering from injury or elderly and struggle to exercise properly. Give those dogs space and don’t allow your dog to run up to them unless the owner says otherwise.
3. Be respectful and courteous of non-dog walkers
Believe it or not, there are a select group of people who don’t like dogs and it’s not fair to allow your dogs to run around uncontrollably in any public space, whether it’s primarily used as a dog walking area or not. I know it’s impossible to understand that there could be someone who doesn’t love your precious furry best friend but the truth is there are people who are scared of dogs and we shouldn’t be allowing dogs to run up to people, jump up at them or run into them. This once again comes down to training and if your dog doesn’t understand that these things are wrong then it’s time to either invest in a decent positive dog trainer or keep your dog on the lead until they do. This rule is especially important as you and your dog can be reported for having a dangerous dog even if your dog is only being overly friendly if someone else considers your dog’s behaviour threatening.
4. Get off your phone!
I am a so called ‘Millennial’ who admittedly relies quite heavily on my phone and yet when I am out on a dog walk, my phone remains firmly inside my pocket until the dog walk is over. Safety is important in this day and age and it’s very important to have a form of communication on you in an emergency however what is the reliance with being permanently attached to the screen that we are not paying any attention to what our dogs are doing. Instead of texting or reading Facebook, interact with your dog and cherish your time together.
5. And finally, PLEASE pick up after your dog.
This rule should go without saying and yet there are STILL people who don’t pick up after their dogs. Believe me non-dog owners, it frustrates us too as it’s us that gets the blame for others laziness. There is no excuse for not cleaning up after your own dog, it’s something that goes hand in hand with having a dog. Never go on a walk without being prepared, make sure there are spares in every pocket and pay attention to what your dog is doing.
We all want the best from our dogs. By following these rules we are giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy their walks with their dogs without stressing.
Can you think of any other rules that I haven’t included here that you think are important? Add them in the comments below!
It is estimated that there are around 12 million households that have a pet in the UK (RSPCA, 2018) resulting in pets becoming an important aspect of family life. This means that there are millions of households where the pet shares their home with a child. There is no doubt that a pet can enrich a child’s life but it is very important that we correctly educate our children to learn how to behave appropriately around animals. In 2019 it was estimated that there were 200,000 bites or injuries caused by dogs in England, sunfortunately the number of children involved in these attacks were much higher than the number of attacks on adults. Sadly over the years, hundreds of dogs have had to be destroyed as a result of these attacks and in the case of attacks on children, the blame is typically targeted towards the dog and never the victim.
But who is really to blame?
There is no doubt that children are entirely innocent, the majority of the time children do something because they don’t know any better. It should be up to us to educate our children on how to appropriately behave around dogs in order to prevent these accidents from happening. Kids love to grab things and dogs with their cute faces and fluffy tails are just SO tempting to a small child. It may look sweet to see a child ‘playing’ with a dog by grabbing onto their tail and prodding sticky fingers in their faces but we must remember that a dog is a living creature not a robot. No dog is perfect. No dog is absolutely 100% never going to attack if they feel threatened. It is a natural response for a dog who is frightened – The fight of flight response. Dogs either try to get away from the trigger or if that’s not possible because they are being held back or restricted they are likely to turn around and bite.
What can we do about it?
Education is key! Children are programmed to learn and when we make it fun they are more likely to remember what we have taught them. Children and dogs can form the strongest of bonds with each other and that absolutely should be encouraged but we must take important steps to avoid any conflict from happening. I am very lucky that I have very patient, tolerant dogs but there has been more than one occasion where I’ve had a child run up to my Shih Tzu’s because they are cute and fluffy and look like teddy bears and instinctively try to grab or pet them and the parent has either just laughed or has been too busy on their phone that they haven’t even noticed. My dogs were always on a lead and therefore under my control but if my dog had been frightened and had reacted by snapping back it would have been my dog and I that got the blame and not the parent. Children should be taught to ask permission to the owner before they try and pet the dog and understand that there may be some situations where approaching the dog may not be a good idea and its within the owners right to refuse.
Lets play some games!
Training dogs should be an activity that the entire family are involved in, everyone should be involved. I don’t want to sound like a negative Nancy as I really do think that it is possible to have a positive relationship between a child and their dog and so I have thought up some fun games we can play.
At the end of the day it is entirely impossible that children and dogs can learn to live harmoniously provided that the child has been correcty educated on how to react and behave around our canine companions. The relationship between a child and their dog can often be enviable but we as responsible adults must do everything in our power to keep our children and our dogs safe.
If you are interested in this subject or are thinking about getting some training for you and your dog in which your child can be involved in, contact All the B’s Pet Services today. All our training packages come with a free activity pack for children under the age of 12 to complete and I am more than happy to encourage all the children in the house to help me out with the training process.