Do you remember the very first time you put a leash on that cute, chubby little fur ball of a puppy you just adopted? You immediately click the leash on his collar (Oh look! The snap is almost as big as he is), you then begin to tug on the leash with the expectation that your new pup is going to automatically know what this thing is yanking on his neck. You laugh at him and maybe even praise him for flopping down on the floor and biting the leash. You drag him a bit, and then he takes a couple steps and then rolls over scratching and biting and flails around trying to escape the collar. Then the whole scenario repeats itself, all the while you are telling little rover he is a genius, a champ, the best pup in the world as he gnaws on the leash and flops all over the floor like a fish. Sound familiar?


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Since that article ran in June, three dogs who have graduated from my Growly Dog class have been attacked by off-leash dogs. My clients work hard to calm their dog’s anxiety when they see other dogs (which often stems from being attacked the very first time by a rude, off-leash dog!). We help these over-anxious dogs learn to trust their handler, and we rebuild their faith that they can walk safely in their own neighborhood. We make significant progress in keeping these dogs calm and focused on their owners instead of hyper-vigilantly scanning for dangers . . . such as an off-leash dog. In some of these cases, the unleashed dog owner was held responsible and now must pay fines in addition to medical bills; one of my clients ended up having an $8,000 hand surgery after breaking up a dog fight. I have enough stories like that to fill up a very long, pathetic book.
Indiana is one of the states that has a restraint statute, which means that dogs must be restrained at all times. Otherwise, if the dog bites a person when not restrained the owner is subject to civil liability and criminal penalties. (Cite needed; definition of "restraint" needed; discussion of local Indiana ordinances forbidding dog tethering needed.)
About the author: Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA, is a force-free professional dog trainer enjoying her mountain-filled life in Colorado. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She takes her highly trained dogs with them everywhere dogs are welcome because of their exceptionally good manners. Join Annie on her dog-training Facebook page.
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