I was on facebook recently and someone I am friends with but don’t know particularly well posted a status similar to this:
“Who is the irresponsible owner here?
1) The owner who has their dogs off lead and knows they won’t hurt anyone or anything
2) The owner who brings an aggressive dog to an area known for dog walking and where there are lots of dogs being walked off lead”
Now my answer should probably have been “maybe both – but really the first owner”, but I am sick and tired off the “it’s okay, they’re friendly!” dog owners, so instead I replied:
Dogs that don’t like other dogs still need walks and have just as much of a right to go to nice places and not have other dogs run over and bother them – it’s the owners’ job to call “get your dog please!” and then the off lead friendly dog should have good enough recall to be called off and go back to their owner. Aggressive dogs should always be kept on lead if there are other dogs nearby, or if it’s in a popular walking spot. That’s my opinion.
Our Staffy was bothered and attacked by lots of off lead dogs, and she became scared of other dogs – she was never aggressive but we kept her on lead and gave her treats just for seeing other dogs. This was working well but the number of off lead dogs that would run up to her, jump all over her and scare her was infuriating, and their owners would just say “oh it’s okay, my dog’s friendly!”…well great, but my dog doesn’t want to meet your dog!
I want to reiterate a few points now in this blog post:
The view that aggressive, fearful or reactive dogs shouldn’t be walked anywhere where they might bump into other dogs is STUPID.
Where are you supposed to walk then, taking into account we have seen many off lead dogs in the village, by roads etc?!
But secondly: Dogs that hate having their personal space invaded have just as much right to walk in nice stimulating areas as so called “friendly” dogs.
Finally, another thing to remember, not all dogs that can’t greet others are aggressive. They could be:
- Fearful of other dogs – very different to aggression, although aggression is usually caused by fear (most dogs choose fight, flight or both!)
- In training – this could be something as simple as playing the LAT game to help them feel comfortable around other dogs, teaching them to pay attention around distractions, or even a Service Dog in training
- Elderly – many senior dogs don’t enjoy strange, young or bouncy dogs getting in their face and trying to get them to rough house. Imagine an 80 year old trying to watch an interesting programme on TV, and a young toddler climbs all over him and screams in his face.
- Recovering from injury or illness
- Not interested in other dogs. Just like humans have different hobbies and interests, so too do dogs. Despite what the “it’s okay – he’s friendly!” owners think, NOT ALL DOGS CARE ABOUT SOCIALISING WITH OTHER DOGS.
I have two dogs. Kasper does not appreciate pushy, rude, unpleasant dogs – Raiden IS the rude, pushy, unpleasant dog!!
As a result we walk Rey on a longline when he is around other dogs, and he is in constant training to teach him to be calm. When there are no dogs, he is off lead. His recall is good with low-med distractions.
If someone says he can play with their dog, I warn them that he is a brat and plays rude and bouncily – if they say it’s okay, off he goes.
Important: if you let your dog off lead around other unknown dogs, s/he must have extremely reliable recall – it is NOT FAIR for your dog to go bother other dogs.
Please let this post be a reminder – reactive, fearful and aggressive dogs are NOT bad dogs, and they deserve good walks too 🙂