Being a responsible pet owner not only means taking the time and effort to make sure your pets are taken care of and happy, but also means respecting your fellow pet owners, neighbors and community.
Lucky for me, I own a dog that gets along with everyone and everything. Men, women, kids, dogs. Ash loves them all and will lick you forever and a day if you let her. Congratulations to you if you also have a super friendly dog. You should feel fortunate that you hit the genetic and behavioral lottery. Why do I say that? Because I also own a leash-reactive dog.
Shortly after we adopted Chase we discovered that, when out for a walk, he would bark, lunge, and snarl at the very sight of another dog. It could be a big dog or a small dog. Male or female. Across the street or two blocks away. He was scared of strange dogs and would do anything he could to keep them away. It has taken over two years of desensitization and counterconditioning to be able to walk around our neighborhood without Chase freaking out at every dog he sees.
Over the past month while out on walks we have been approached by unleashed dogs on three separate occasions. The first instance was when somebody had their dog loose in their front yard and it bolted across the street to meet my dog. Lucky for them there was not a car coming, and fortunately for us I was walking my Ash. The second time a dog jumped its fence and came to play. I was able to shoo him away and he jumped back into his yard. Again, thank goodness I was walking my sociable dog, Ash. The third occurrence happened when someone, walking two dogs, inexplicably let one of them off leash. This dog charged at my normally approachable girl and, in defense of herself, Ash responded by pinning the much smaller dog to the ground, unharmed. I separated them and we continued with our walk.
I am grateful that none of these events involved my leash-reactive boy, Chase. If he had been engaged in any or all of these episodes I can’t imagine anything good would have resulted. His behavior modification that we have worked so hard on would have suffered tremendously. Injuries, to dogs and/or humans, no doubt would have been inflicted, quite possibly severely.
I offer my experiences as advice to please be considerate of other dogs and their people. Not everyone is as lucky as you and has a super friendly dog. Keep your dog leashed or contained in his yard. If you come across someone else walking their dog, ask if it is okay to approach before just doing so, because even if your dog is the most loveable dog on the planet, you are only half of the equation. Please be a responsible pet owner by observing the leash law. When you do you are not only protecting your dog, but everyone else’s as well.
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, FFCP, CTDI