Sunday, 9 December 2012

Dog Walking Etiquette



Yesterday was a lovely crisp, cold morning. Perfect dog walking weather.

I've noticed that in my Friday Instagram posts, the scenic pictures really make the collage look complete, so I decided to get snap happy with my phone whilst I was out with the dogs. We're lucky enough to live in a rural area with plenty of beautiful places to walk, which makes for very pretty pictures

These woods have a pond which Jessie loves to swim in, whatever the weather. Even though it was partially frozen yesterday, there was no stopping her. Wilson isn't quite so brave, he tittuped around on the bank, holding a stick and dive bombing her on her way out. When they were pups I did all their gundog water training here with them, the pond has an island which is great for teaching them to cross water, stop and hunt on the whistle command. Not all dogs are keen on water, although they may like swimming they see the water as an obstacle between them and the game so they often slow right down and it looks laborious - this was never a problem for Jessie. She takes a run up and literally hurls herself into the water, often jumping so high that she lands bum first. It's hilarious to watch!

Speaking of training, we were having a lovely time until we came across two other dog walkers with extremely poor manners. The first let his dog come flying up to mine and it attacked Jessie, snarling and hanging from her neck. The second allowed her dogs to stop and have a good sniff of Wilson even though I had taken both of my dogs off the path and had them sitting quietly out of the way

I don't allow my dogs to play with other dogs. Firstly because, as gundogs, they have to learn that they're just not allowed. They have to be able to concentrate on work and be relied on to sit motionless until instructed to do something, even when there are many other dogs around. The only way you can achieve this is to teach them that other dogs are not for playing with. If mine see another dog they come straight back to me - I then take them off the path and they sit at heel until the other dog has passed The second reason is that you just don't know how friendly other dogs are. Both of my dogs have been attacked several times by dogs that weren't under their owner's control and that really pisses me off. If you have a dog, you have a responsibility to ensure that it is properly trained and that you are in control of it in public.

Wilson isn't castrated because we had planned to breed from him. So he has the full complement of testosterone and as far as he is concerned, Jessie is his property - if another dog gets too friendly with her he will let the dog know he's not happy. Hence, when we see another dog coming, mine get put on leads and taken off the path, out of harm's way. It's incredibly frustrating when the other person doesn't take this hint and lets their dog come over and either attack my well-behaved dogs or take advantage of them sitting quiet and still and have a good old sniff round their bits! It's even worse when I ask them to take their dog away as Wilson might snap and they say 'oh don't worry, it will teach mine a lesson'. What lesson exactly? And would they be saying 'oh, don't worry' if my dog did theirs serious damage? I expect it would be more something along the lines of 'expect a vet's bill and I'll see you in court'!

Exchanges like this can really ruin a lovely walk and I make a concerted effort to walk where there aren't likely to be any other people and dogs. I know that not everyone trains their dogs to the level that I have but to be honest, it's just a case of good manners and common sense. If I see someone putting their dog on a lead as I approach, I assume they don't trust their dog so it would be incredibly stupid of me to let my dogs go flying up to it at high speed!

I don't imagine this will change any time soon, people will always be ignorant. But if you have a dog, I beg you not to be one of them! Think of your dog's safety and be careful around dogs you don't know

Jessie has been attacked twice, both times by terriers and both times whilst she was on the lead and they weren't. Terriers can be nasty little blighters and both times it was hard to get them off her but there was no serious damage done. Wilson has been attacked twice too, once by two Flatcoat Retrievers and and once by a husky. Both times the owners stood by, shouting but doing nothing whilst I hit, kicked, whipped and dragged their dogs off mine. It's terrifying and we've been lucky that he's got off lightly, shaken but with no serious damage

It's heartbreaking to watch your much loved, well-behaved pet being attacked by one which isn't under control. It hurts to see their wounded expressions - they don't understand what happened - they were doing exactly as they've been taught to do so why have they been hurt?

I'll stop ranting now! But please, please, if you have a dog be careful. There are some nasty dogs out there and they are indistinguishable from the sweet, playful ones until it's too late.

24 comments:

  1. These photos are so nice, I miss having a dog :( x

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    1. I'd be lost without mine. I hope you get chance to have one again xx

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  2. I completely agree on the whole training your dog properly thing! Some owners are just so careless and completely ignorant to their dogs behavior and what it actually means!! I hate it when i see people who dont eve try and understand their dogs!! So glad i ca relate to you on this issue :)

    Jen xxx

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    1. I'm glad you can relate too, I was worried I'd come across as a right bossy boots! I'm so pleased you see it the same way xx

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  3. Beautiful pictures, dogs and words. I definitely agree with you on dog owners! Another thing that bothers me are when people see dogs like pitbulls or dobermans, they assume they eat/attack everything in their path when they are the sweetest dogs ever. It's all in the training baby! Hopefully dog owners like this will get smarter and more careful :)

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    1. Thank you! Whilst I believe that pitbulls will always have an inbuilt tendency to be aggressive because they have centuries worth of instinct and have been bred for fighting, I believe that no dog is 'born bad' - it's all about the training and experiences they've had whilst growing up. I know a lady who breeds Rottweilers and her dogs are the sweetest, most loving dogs you can imagine! xx

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  4. I have the exact same feelings about owners who are incapable of controlling their dogs [or just don't want to a lot of the time]. I have horses but live in London - we're lucky enough to have a couple of fields and a bit of a wood and lake to ride on and around but it's also used for fishing and runners and dog walking. And honestly, if I hand a pound for every time someone said 'oh, it's alright - he's just playing' or 'It'll teach him a lesson' [when I tell them that my horse is going to kick their dog if it continues to snap at his legs], then I would be obscenely rich by now! Does my horse [that was terrified of dogs for a long time] know that your dog that's barking and trying to bite his legs is just playing? And when my horse steps on your Yorkie's head, it won't be learning any lessons because it'll be dead! I was starting to think it was just me that was being driven mad by irresponsible dog owners! I enjoyed your rant [because it enabled me to rant lol]. Great pic btw - I'm jealous! :)

    Alex xo

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    1. I had exactly the same problem when I had horses too, it's so frustrating when a dog is yapping around your horse's feet and you can feel that the horse is uncomfortable but the owner doesn't appear to care. And that 'he's only playing' drives me almost as mad as 'it will teach him a lesson'!! xx

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  5. Totally agree on the training! My black lab is a well bred and (part) trained gundog too. I don't neccessarily intend to take him shooting (although his breeder & trainer wants him too) but gundog training is so disciplined it makes him much easier to control - he might be a lovely friendly family lab but he is pure muscle and really strong and could easily pull me over if he really wanted to.
    I always put him back on the lead when I see another dog - not because I don't trust him but because I don't trust the other dog - if he's on a lead I hope this will encourage people to keel their distance and its easier to keep him focused as we train him that when is lead is on his nose has to be up in the air - no sniffing! - so he's not likely to scent something and get distracted. My lab is only 1 so he's still got some puppy tendencies and does really enjoy playing with other dogs - we only have one so this is probably why as they are a novelty to him - so sometimes he will want to go and sniff if he's off the lead but on the lead he walks past no problem.
    What annoys me is when parents allow children to have the dog and its really pulling them on the lead and the child clearly has no control over the dog yet the parent is screaming at the child! Sometimes it's not the dog that needs training it's the owners!!

    Jenni x

    Bowsbanglesandbakes.blogspot.com

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    1. I totally agree, people can be so irresponsible when it comes to dogs and kids. You're right, gundog training leaves no margin for error, it instils perfect discipline. Every puppy should learn some basic obedience, it makes them more pleasant to be around xx

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  6. I am a complete dog walking snob haha. Our family have always had gun dogs (although my dog now is a Jack Russell X she is still completely trained) and it really winds me up when people don't put their dogs back on the lead when they come across other walkers. Murphy was attacked by a staffy when she was about 2 when she was on her lead and the staffy wasn't, it was so scary! I still think there should be some kind of guidelines for when dogs need to be on a lead, dogs are unpredictable creatures at times.
    xo

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    1. I'm pleased to hear you are! Like you said, dogs have their own minds, you can't predict which dogs will be nice and which won't, they should just be on leads so there's no chance of any harm coming to them xx

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  7. I completely agree with you. My Border Terrier is soft as anything and gets incredibly scared of bigger dogs than him coming bouncing up to him. I always make him sit down with me or more him along from them because when he gets scared he will try and get away for a while but if they keep trying he will bite and back them off. I hate dog owners who shout and shout and the dogs just carry on. If i tell Grizzle to sit he sits whether he's next to me or a mile away. If you can't control your dogs without a lead they shouldn't be off the lead.
    xo

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  8. This post is interesting to me because I've never really considered the etiquette of dog walking - Bodhi is a soppy thing and tries to play with other dogs and unless they are on a lead I let him do so in the field in the morning - he has never even growled at a dog so I know he's not a threat to them. Bodhi will go and have a good sniff and try and play with them and I have been guilty of saying "It will teach him a lesson" if they give him a growl or snap - my opinion is that if it were a dangerous dog or likely to do harm then they should have it on a lead. I never considered that that could be annoying to other dog owners if Bodhi starts trying to play and their dog doesn't want to or is trained not to - Bodhi isn't always great at coming back when we call him but I'm training him to be better. I think I need to rethink how I walk him now as I like him to have interaction with other dogs but maybe it is annoying for other dog owners. xo

    Rosie // A Rosie Outlook

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    1. I know what you mean, it's a fine line. It's nice for them to play with other dogs - as long as you know and trust the other dogs. If someone sees you coming and makes an effort to take their dogs out of your way, I'd see that as a cue to pop the lead on. ALL in the name of safety :-) xx

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  9. I'm so glad you posted this!

    I'm the one with the dog on the lead, the owner of a dog that has been attacked and the owner who is told 'She/he has to learn sometime!'.

    I adopted a 35kg American bulldog. She's stunning. However, she has been adopted. There are two years of her life that I have no idea what she's been through - all I know is she was a puppy making machine.

    She is kept on lead for numerous reasons, from her early onset of arthritis to the fact I don't 100% trust her as I didn't raise her from a pup. She's been through some major training and has come on so well but at the end of the day she's my responsibility and her life is in my hands.

    If only we acted on our instincts as much as our canines do!

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    1. You are the PERFECT owner for a rescue dog! As you say, you don't know what she's been through in the past and you have to put her safety first, just before that of other dogs. And well done to you for taking her on and putting the effort into training her xx

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  10. Gorgeous pictures!! I miss having a doggy :(
    Xx

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  11. This is an interesting topic - as you know (cuz we're well close innit) I don't have dogs.. but my mum has 6 of them that I completely adore. When we go on walks its interesting to see how other dog owners are with their pets.. my mum's tend to stick with each other and aren't too interested in other dogs, but occasionally one of them will try to play. The thing that annoys my stepdad most is when people with dogs assume that other people with dogs want to hear their life story - they dont.

    5 of my mum's dogs are terriers (jack russells) and dont attack other dogs, it makes me sad that yours was hurt by terriers as they can be quite nasty, but when trained well they are so sweet! Also, people that let their pets attack other pets annoy the hell out of me. Last christmas I was in my front garden with one of my cats, a woman came towards our house with a staffy that wasnt on a lead and when she saw me eyeing him shouted 'don't worry, he won't bother you' before he went on to attack my cat. I shouted so loud the stupid thing paused long enough for her to run away, but she was really shaken and had a cut above her eye which made me really angry. The owner just stood there while this was happening, and then said sorry AFTER I'd chased the dog off which apparently makes everything OK. If I hadn't been there my cat could have been killed on her own front garden.. and when dogs are dangerous like that they shouldn't be let off leads in residential areas.. especially when there are loads of cats about, and when alot of my neighbors have small children.

    Story time over. Went off on a bit of a tangent there haha ;) xx

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    1. You are so right about people telling you their dog's life story if youshow the slightest interest ... another reason I don't!

      Soory for the generalised comment about terriers - I've had several myself and only one of them was nasty (he was from rescue and had been completely spoilt) but it seems the ones I bump into whilst walking are always the mean ones! My last terrier Max was a total sweetheart so I know they're not all bad :-)

      That's awful about your cat, it sounds like it could have been so much worse too. The guy whose terrier attacked Jessie at the weekend was all 'sorry love' afterwards as if that makes it all ok. After he'd finished berating his dog that is. And you're right, NO dog should be off it's lead in a residential area where there are kids and cars ... are people STUPID?? xx

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  12. What gorgeous photos, how idyllic. I am relocating with my boyfriend early next year and we are so excited to get a new dog, we are both self employed so can spend a lot of time with him. We would love to rescue a dog from our local home. This has made me even more excited about my new life. Thank you!

    http://thepeoplestories.co.uk/

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  13. Great post! I hate it when people don't take the time to train their dog(s) properly (or correctly). My tibetan terrier was hard work to train, they are known to be stubborn but with hard work you get there and you have a much more enjoyable relationship with your hound for it.

    Why don't people train their dogs? I think laziness has a huge amount to do with it but you only get out what you put in, I wish people would see this more.

    My 'mutt' is now nearly 3 and as hard as it was at times to train her, she now has pretty good doggy etiquette and for that I'm very proud!

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