Daily dog walks can be a minefield of distractions, interactions and undesirable experiences for some dog owners. We hope our blog will help clarify how to behave or, how your dog should behave out walking.
Some things are obvious, like always carrying poo bags etc (covered in our last blog). Other things are less obvious and may only cause distress to one party.
Before you walk in a public place remember your dog's limitations. Is his recall reliable? Is he good 'unless' there is a distraction? What type of things distract him? Ideally you will be working towards having a well trained dog that is under control despite distractions.
Prior to this you must be vigilant and act accordingly when these things may be present. By act accordingly we mean do not 'react' yourself... by tightening your leash and thinking 'oh no there's a cyclist/cat/dog/child/car (because your dog chases them) you are indirectly triggering a reaction in your dog. Practice spotting situations in advance and alter your course or divert your dog's attention prior to distraction approaching.
One of the main issues and quite a hot topic currently is approaching other dogs. As a general rule we advise never allowing your dog to aproach another dog who is on his leash. Why? Firstly he may be in training, nervous, reactive, recovering from and operation...who knows, it is simply best to assume he is on the leash for a reason.
Secondly even the most placid of dogs, when on the leash and approached by one or multiple off leash dogs could feel intimidated. Whilst on his leash the ability to move away and take flight is limited. Dogs are “fight or flight” animals. When confronted with a threat, a dog’s psychology and physiology dictate that he or she will either flee from the danger (“flight”) or confront it (“fight”). On leash dogs do not have the opportunity to do this, which is where we see normally placid dogs becoming reactive, it is because they are uncomfortable with the situation.
Many of our clients battle with this daily, whilst going out of their way to avoid confrontations, they are still faced with 'super-friendly' bouncy dogs intimidating their pet. Owners of 'super friendly' dogs aim to diffuse the situation by yelling 'its fine he is friendly' . For the recipient of the head on greeting; body, slamming, bopping, mouthing and mounting is possibly terrifying. For the owner, such an encounter can set them back weeks, even months of training a dog who is nervous of others.
So if you let your dog do his/her own thing on walks: diving on dogs, body-slamming them, chasing them, trying to roll them over in play, think twice about how this may affect others.