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.
States that do not have statewide leash laws are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
The truth is: If it is the law and you allow your dog off leash, you are breaking a law. In a civilized society, members do not simply pick and choose which laws apply to them. I repeat this mantra: It does not matter that you perceive your dog to “be friendly” or that “he loves other dogs.” It does not matter because the dog you have no voice control over is hurling himself into the faces of dogs who very well may NOT be friendly to other dogs. Your dog galloping right up to a leashed dog is rude canine behavior, even if you are running behind your dog screaming: “Don’t worry! He’s friendly!!” You endanger your own dog and all those you allow him to terrorize or bother.
Dog leashes are used to walk the dog in public places. Having the dog wear a leash is a way of protecting the dog and other persons (e.g., if the dog runs away and bites someone). Also, the length is one of the important aspects of the leash. The length of the leash must be chosen according to the size of the dog and it is important because it allows a good control. Leashes should not be either too long or too short. Too long leashes do not provide good control of the pet which can result in unpleasant accidents with more aggressive dogs whereas too short leashes are uncomfortable for both the dog and the owner. The perfect leash can restrain the dog but at the same time is not viewed as a punishment for the pet.
In a critical situation, don’t try to reason with the unreasonable human who allowed their dog to come into your dog’s space. By allowing their dog to be unleashed where leashes are required, that owner has by default demonstrated a lack of concern for his own dog and yours. You may feel like screaming obscenities for their lack of care, but that wastes both emotion and time. It can also ramp the dogs up even more.
As the unleashed dog comes at you, push the button and unleash the umbrella. We aren’t trying to hurt the dog – we are trying to but a barrier between your leashed dog and the outlaw dog. Be aware that if you use an umbrella, throw meat at the oncoming off-leash dog, or use a citronella spray, you are in a way escalating a bad situation. Or, it’s more accurate to say that you are being put in a position that may escalate because of the other owner’s irresponsibility. I’ve had two clients get into fistfights with other owners after spraying an oncoming dog with citronella. On the other hand, we have to protect our dogs. If you use a defensive move, do so carefully cautiously and as a last resort and understand that it might cause more human strife.
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