In Delaware, dogs are not allowed to run at large unless in situations when the owner is present and has control over the pet. An exception is for farm dogs. Also, during the night dogs must be kept in an enclosure from which they cannot escape, firmly secured with a collar or chain or other device, so they cannot stray from the premises, or are under the reasonable control of the owner or custodian. If an owner does not respect these laws and if the dog bites someone, the owner is subject to civil liability and for fines of up to $1,500.
A professional (find one through The Pet Professional Guild) can help you train your dog to trust his environment and handler when he is on leash. Dogs can feel trapped by that lifeline. It’s vital that we teach them how we want them to behave when they see other dogs. These behaviors first must be taught in a safe, controlled setting such as a dog-training center.
Cat leashes are used with the purpose of preventing the cat getting lost. Unlike dogs, cats rarely attack persons on the street, so cat leashes are mainly a safety measure to protect the pet itself. Very often the collars are replaced with harnesses, because they avoid the dangers of collars which include escaping and running away or choking. Cats are more likely to not be willing to be walked in a harness than dogs are, and are considered to need up to months to be able to adjust to wearing a harness.
Teach a cue. Introduce your puppy to a sound cue that means, “food is coming.” Some people like to click and treat, some people use a word like “yes,” and some people cluck their tongue. Whichever you use, the method is the same: In a quiet, distraction-free area, with the puppy on a leash and collar, make the sound. The second your puppy turns toward you and/or looks at you, reward him with a treat. After a few repetitions, you’ll notice your puppy not only looking at you, but also coming over to you for the treat.
The most “liked” column I have written for Dogster was about why it is critical to observe leash laws. Nearly 20,000 of you clicked that button. The article struck a nerve because owners who flout these laws exist from coast to coast. Some of them angrily responded to my article, insisting they had every right to have an off-leash dog who runs amuck and molests (“he just wants to say hi!”) other dogs and humans. Many more of you wrote to tell me about the severe physical and psychological damage your dog has suffered because of a run-in with an off-leash dog.
Our training will give you the best opportunity to be successful and lead a very happy and rewarding life with your dog. The most amazing part is to watch as your confidence grows as the training progresses; from a person who has been stressed out their entire time they’ve had their dog, to stress-free. We can take your guilt or embarrassment your dog may be causing and turn that into pride and happiness.
Leash walking outside may be more frustrating because there are numerous distractions for you to compete with for your puppy’s attention. Understand, from his point of view, how much more difficult this task has now become, and whatever you do, don’t lose your patience; don’t drag him or allow him to drag you! Walk slowly and click and treat if he stays at your side. If he begins to pull, stop or change your direction, then click and treat when he reaches your side again!
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.
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Throw a meat treat in the direction of the oncoming dog, turn on your heels, and walk away. I cannot even count the number of dog owners who are shocked that as their dog is being harassed by the off-leash dog, the owner of stands there, saying nothing, and doesn’t help to put an end to the situation. If another person is walking with you, ask them to attempt to catch the oncoming dog as you leave the scene (you have to decide in an instant if that would be a safe maneuver or not because breaking up a dog fight is an excellent way to get bitten).
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