Please Control Your Dog!

Question 20: Why should you keep your dog under control? 

Last week two people asked me to write about an issue and they were both relating to the same thing – keeping your dog under control.  I had already decided to talk about this because I was recently told off by someone while out on my walk, rightly so.

On Saturday mornings I walk up river, onto the OU campus, round by the church, across the bridge and into the park.  It’s a lovely walk and easy on a Saturday as there are no cars coming into the Open University.  However, because we do this walk around once a week, the dogs know the way and as we come round past the church they tend to rush ahead, over the bridge.  They then wait for me, usually lying around on the verge or the path.  Once I’ve crossed over, if they are lucky, I throw the ball.  So they wait.

Last week I was on the phone to a friend, chatting away, walking slowly.  As I came up to the bridge this woman stopped in front of me and told me that I should keep my dogs under control.  “They were out of sight of you and my dog is frightened of other dogs.  You were a long way behind.  And it’s happened before!”  I apologised profusely; she was in the right and I was in the wrong.

I could have said “oh but my dogs are under control, they are lying quietly waiting for me and not interested in your dog.”  That is not the point.  The point is that I wasn’t there, so my dogs could have attacked her dog.  Or her dog could have gone for mine and they could have retaliated.

“Don’t worry he’s friendly”

This is the most annoying thing you can say when walking your dog.  I can’t tell you how many people I see ranting on social media about how some idiot allowed a dog to come bounding over “just wanting to play” and getting right into a dog’s face.  Their owner is then astonished when their dog keeps getting attacked by other ‘horrible’ dogs.

Just like people, dogs do NOT like other dogs getting right in their faces.  It’s rude.  So if your dog does it to my dogs, they are likely to get snapped at, at best, or bitten at worst.  In my opinion, that would be your dog’s fault, not mine.

My dogs will never go up to another dog and attack it.  But they will tell another dog to f*ck off, if it gets in their face.  Fair enough, in my view.  My dogs are much too busy running around with each other and having a nice time together to talk to other dogs.  They don’t want to engage with other dogs.  That’s why we are able to go out for walks with other dogs, because generally, they will just get on with it.

The exceptions to this are when one of them is in season, when they might go and chat up another dog.  Or the puppy might decide to have a game of chase with another young dog.

Train your dog away

I have talked about this in the context of training the puppy.  When you have an excitable, friendly dog, it is up to you to keep their attention when another dog is going past.  Get their focus and reward that with treats, or play.  Be more interesting or exciting than the other dog.  It’s hard work, especially if you only have one dog, but it makes the walk much more rewarding for you.

If your dog goes for other dogs really aggressively, you will have to think about muzzling it.  A basket muzzle is a good way to manage this situation, as it means you can let the dog off lead and not have to worry about it the whole time.  The dog will not like the muzzle, but usually they can learn to tolerate it. This is a better solution than keeping the dog on the lead, which is miserable for the dog, hard work for you and can make the dog more reactive in any case.

Managing the fear from other people

This was the other issue raised to me last week.  How to help children cope with being afraid of dogs.  I have already written about helping children learn to speak dog, so that they understand why a dog might be running up to them and how to deal with that.

Once again though, it is your responsibility to manage your dog so that it doesn’t rush up to people it doesn’t know.   If you watch this video I made a couple of weeks ago, you can see that I have taught Ounce to stop.

Why don’t you try to teach your dog to do this?  Run towards you, then stop.  If you put up your hand and say “Stop!” or “Wait!” they should do it.  Say “yes!” straight away then go to them and reward.  It’s a really useful command to have.

Ask me for Advice?

You are very welcome to contact me to ask for my advice.  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the What Dog? page for more information on my new service.

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3 thoughts on “Please Control Your Dog!”

  1. Thank you for writing about this!! Monty is NOT good with other dogs, I walk him in residential areas because that is where I live and I don’t always have time to pack him up in the car and go in search of unpopulated areas to walk. I cannot begin to tell you how many times unleashed dogs have approached us because they are ‘friendly’! I freeze in fear if I don’t see them until it’s too late, if I DO notice them in time I have to scoop up 18lbs of ‘I-don’t-want-to-be-picked-up’ or ‘put-me-down-and-let-me-at-em’!! I often have to choose a different route to walk due to this as well. I would love to have a dog that tolerates, or better yet, loves all other dogs but I do not. I ALWAYS keep Monty leashed unless I am in wide open spaces where I know there is no chance of a sneak attack from some overly friendly dog. I do my part to ensure their safety and I truly expect them to show the same consideration for my wee bundle of hell-hound. He deserves exercise as well and I really don’t feel I should have to muzzle him for a leash walk. Rant over! THANK YOU!!!

    1. You sound like sooo many dog owners who are struggling out there! It’s not easy, but dogs can learn to ignore other dogs and not jump in their faces. They can remain calm going past other dogs, but only if the other dogs are calm and well-behaved too. We all need to learn some manners!

      1. I believe you need to leash your dog when in residential or populated areas, many owners think they have control over their dogs and do until something grabs their attention and they can’t resist going after it. Some people have extreme fear of dogs and having unleashed dogs is cause for stress as well.

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