Dog walk etiquette
It seems that I write about this subject a lot. Of course I am constantly coming across people and issues like this because I take my dogs out every day. The more you are out and about, the more you are going to experience things like this....poor walk etiquette. I posted on my Facebook page about extension leashes and a leashless biker with his dog in a public park. It was Wednesday morning; I had Elsa out for a nice early walk around 7:00 am. The air was brisk and Elsa shook to fluff her coat as we got out of the car. "What a great morning" I thought to myself.
We immediately headed to the baseball field where Elsa is allowed to run free. I threw the chuck it and Elsa went through her different catches. She has a number of different steps that we go through pre-catch. Sometimes she simply has to run around me and out to get the ball. There is the run out, turn and down before I throw it. Then sometimes I have her down beside me before going after the ball. It is a much needed form of high concentration and control over a high drive object. So she has her fun and afterwards we leash up and go for a walk.
Before I was out of the fenced field I saw the guy on his bike. I've seen this guy before; he is on his bike with his pit mix running beside off leash. Now as much as I enjoy an off leash run; I am extremely careful and respectful of others before ever taking a leash off. This guy on his bike can be seen yelling at his dog as they near other walkers with dogs. I was glad to see him pass us before we headed out and hoped that he would be going home. My hopes were squelched as I heard the running nails on his dog's feet behind us. As they came along side of us he yelled again as his dog eyed Elsa and his hair rose on his back. Not cool, not cool at all. There are very elaborate bike attachments so that you can run your dog safely beside a bicycle. If his dog were to veer off and interact with another dog he would have no time to react, being that he was on a bike. This is an accident waiting to happen and it best not happen with one of my dogs.
We continued our walk and came down a path that is lined with bushes. Much of the rest of the park is a field so if you have to step off the path for some reason it is easy. But we had come to the playground area where it is more narrow as I spotted a Weimaraner on an extension leash. The dog was out at the very end of the leash and had her eye set on Elsa. She did not look to be friendly as I slowed my pace waiting for the woman to reign in her dog. She did not, not until I completely stopped and put Elsa behind me did she pull the dog in at all. This dogs locked it's eyes on Elsa, making me very uncomfortable. Whether or not the dog was friendly or not has nothing to do with the leash issue. What if Elsa was very dog aggressive? What if the moment that dog came near us Elsa attacked it?
I held Elsa by the collar behind me. As the woman got closer she told her dog "noooooooo," really? Finally at about 8' of leash the woman passed us as I told her "reign your dog in," in a very firm tone. She didn't respond and I took that as her "mind your own business" attitude. The more this happens the louder I am going to get. It is people like this that ruin it for everyone else. Recently I was asked by a woman who was walking alone not to let my dogs off leash in the park. I told her that I never would if she was anywhere near us and she thanked me. I know that this woman is afraid of dogs and she deserves the right to walk without fear in the park.
There are times when it just makes no sense at all to have a dog off leash. Like the guy on the bike, the dog is running beside the bike anyway; why not have it on a leash for his own safety and the safety of others? Its just stupid not to have the dog on a leash. When you are around others who do not have a dog or have dogs on leash; keep your dog on a leash. If you are near a roadway, LEASH YOUR DOG. I hate driving by people with dogs off leash; I'm always so afraid that the dog might dart out into the road. It just is not worth risking the safety of your dog to have them off leash near roads. I don't get that at all.
As far as extension leashes are concerned; you all know how I feel about these. I used one for my little Jessie who was a Jack Russell and was rarely off leash. So using the extension gave her a sense of freedom. BUT, learn to reign it in. Don't wait until your dog is near another dog or near the road; do it when you see another dog way up ahead. If you cannot get control over an extension leash, then DON'T USE ONE. One of the worst things I see is a dog coming around a corner way out ahead of an owner. I can't even believe this, the owner has no idea what is around the corner but sends their dog out blindly. Honestly.
Etiquette: conventional requirements as to social behavior. Easy right? Not so much for many people. It has to do with respect and discipline. Respect others who are walking as well; think of how you and your dog are portrayed in public. Are you a welcome site or do people with or without dogs cringe when they see you coming?