Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Off Leash? You're not ready yet - Dog Training Milton

Common sense should tell us if our dogs are not fully reliable off leash, then we should NEVER EVER try to walk them through town, bike paths, by schools or anywhere with other dogs and people around without a 4-6 foot leash on. Alas, common sense does not always prevail.

The problem here is that it takes time, consistency, practice and some hard work to have a truly reliable off leash dog. And by truly reliable, I mean that you can call the dog off of any distraction, and heel your dog past others completely under control. Not all owners are willing to commit to this and not all dogs and owners are able to achieve this. I do find it to be a small minority that say "oh well" and un-clip the leash when the dog isn't ready. But that minority puts a damper on other people and dogs out enjoying the day, adhering to the leash by-law that we have in town.

I am a dog lover (obviously), but I absolutely loath off leash dogs running up to me, my child, my dogs and my clients while I am out on a walk or in the middle of a training session. It is an unsafe situation at best, at worst, it can cause injury to anyone involved.

These offending owners have the tendency to doddle, assume the best and yell out "oh, don't worry, he's friendly", then mosey over, smile and play it off as if nothing happened. I don't care how friendly your dog is, or how well behaved that you think your dog is, it should never, ever be running up to a stranger (dog or human) off leash, uninvited.

If you are someone who allows your dog to roam off leash, even with the best intentions, you are also putting your own dog in danger. The dog on the leash with it's owner, originally minding its own business, may feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened in this situation, and lash out. A bite in this instance is the fault of the unleasher, and fights do break out in situations like this, injury caused to both dogs can happen, not to mention the people invovled.

And the person who is being accosted, even if it is a freindly advance by the off leash dog, may feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened as well; not everyone is a dog lover. This may lead to anxiety for someone who is frightened of dogs, and cause them undue stress on their walks or outings. Truly unfair.

Bottom line, if your dog isn't trained to off leash standards, DO NOT LET THEM OFF around other people and dogs, or in areas where you know you will encounter other people and dogs. If you want your dog to have off leash capabilities, take the time, work on it, train, train, train, hire a trainer to help you and practice in real life situations. Use common sense, use your leash and respect others personal space (and yes, dogs have personal space as well).