I’ve seen so many posts, blogs, memes etc. about this that I really didn’t think another one was necessary. However, it seems there are still a fair number of people who haven’t seen or comprehended any of them so it’s still worth adding another!
As some of my readers will know, I’m disabled. I usually walk my dogs using a powerchair and one of my dogs remains onlead at all times. He is one of those dogs who can be absolutely 100% perfect, or, if the mood takes him 100%… well, I can’t use the term here. (I do love him dearly though).
Another of my dogs is 12 years old and deaf from birth. She does go off the lead but only in select circumstances because I’m aware that if something really distracts her, she may fail to check in with me.
Finally, my 9 month old puppy is currently going through adolescence and whilst her recall is very good, I don’t want to give her the chance to go wrong whilst in training, annoy or genuinely upset someone by running upto them or their dog, or get herself hurt.
Much of the time, if I take all three together, I’m handling 2 or 3 leads, sometimes a long line as well, and keeping an eye on the offlead deaf dog whilst reinforcing the behaviour I like from all 3. And most of the time, that’s okay. It’s not the most relaxing walk ever, and I prefer taking them separately, but it’s not bad!
Recently, due to recent weather meaning we couldn’t get out with either the car or the chair, my dogs had been without a walk for a couple of days and it was cold, and dark and I didn’t fancy doing road walks or separate walks, so I made the rookie error of taking all three dogs to a popular dog walking area thinking that I was there at the right time for a quiet snuffle around in the bushes and a trot offlead about for the old girl. I couldn’t take the chair as it would have sunk in the field due to the recent snow and rain, so I was on foot with my walking stick.
When we arrived, there were a large group of people over at one end of the field all with glow in the dark dogs (or rather dogs with lights and halos on!) so we headed to the far end on the other side to stay out of the way. I wanted to be able to reward the puppy for checking in with me whilst there were dogs around, not frustrate the old boy on his lead and let my old girl have a pootle offlead without getting accosted by anyone (she enjoys a play but the cold is no friend to arthritic hips).
Unfortunately, the spaniel who I assume belonged to this large group didn’t feel the same way about how our walk should go, and decided to join us. It was dark and I couldn’t make out whether Spaniel was a he or a she, so I’ll refer to it as ‘he’. He was perfectly friendly, and was trying to encourage my old girl to play. She politely declined and went on her way. This is where our encounter should have ended.
Unfortunately, pestering an elderly dog over and over again is likely to get you snapped at and this is what happened, resulting in Bubble being put back on her lead for safety (not that she’d done anything wrong). At this point, I had a spaniel chasing all 3 of my dogs around and around me with my stick.
My big male was barking out of frustration, my puppy was learning things I did not want her to learn and my old girl was getting more and more worried.
When I dropped my bag with the long line in to untangle everyone and try to settle them down, the spaniel decided he was having it and as I went to pick it up again he gave me a less than friendly growl before attempting to tug it off me, tearing the bag, pulling on me (after I’d already been pulled around by 60kg of dogs being chased) and eventually leaping up at me when I managed to secure it away from him.
Let me say it again, he was a perfectly friendly spaniel (possibly with a bit of resource guarding, but he’d found treasure and a stranger tried to take it away – his owner should have been there to deal with that instead of me risking getting bitten). His owner was nowhere to be seen, it was dark, nobody was calling him, the group of people were chatting so I have no idea if they even know he’d left the group. I couldn’t have walked over to this group of people to get their attention, it was too far without my chair, and they had a huge group of dogs charging about together which would have been even worse for my now over-aroused dogs.
This had gone on for nearly ten minutes when, thankfully, another offlead, bouncy, but less out of control dog appeared shortly after and the two of them got on like a house on fire and left us alone.
All of my dogs are generally friendly when introduced properly to other dogs. Bubble was not in the mood to be chased probably due to pain, Radan would have loved a play, as would Hattie, the puppy – but that was not the reason we had gone up and it was not appropriate or safe at that time.
Nobody should have to justify not wanting a 100mph spaniel chasing their dogs. Nobody needs to justify why they don’t want their dog to play with your friendly dog at this moment.
It doesn’t matter whether the dog is old, ill, a puppy in training, a reactive dog, a dog that can’t go offlead, a dog recovering from surgery, or whether the owner has mobility problems, has the dog on a lead because they can’t recall their dog, or if they simply want to go for a walk with their dog without meeting anyone else. All of the possible reasons for someone not to want their dog to meet your dog are entirely justified.
If you aren’t watching your dog, put it on a lead. If you can’t recall your dog, put it on a lead. If your dog can’t resist other dogs, put it on a lead. If you let your dog with no recall off the lead to play with his friends because nobody else is around, and someone else arrives meaning your dog will dash over, guess what? Put it on a lead.
I’d go into the specifics of socialising a dog not meaning playing all the time, but it’s for another blog post. This one is long enough already!
Why not join the discussion in our Free Facebook Group?