Lily's very reactive when she's on leash and she sees another dog. She's not aggressive, but the scene could get ugly if the other dog isn't friendly. Lily makes all kinds of racket, jumps in the air, and is pretty much "crazy dog" until the other dog is out of sight.
Out for a photo shoot, I chose the quiet end of the park on purpose – I know Lily and I try to control the distractions as much as humanly possible.I also had Talos – all 110 pounds of him – out at the same time. I constantly scan my surroundings when I have Lily out, so if a distraction does come into view, I'm hip to it long before she is and I can prepare myself (and Lily).
Nightmare of nightmares happened today.
An off leash dog.
Not just an off leash dog. An off leash dog with no recall.
Fabulous. It doesn't get any better than this: I've got a reactive Labrador and a 110-pound Great Dane who takes his cues from the Lab. And now, I've also got an unknown dog directly in the mix. And an owner who isn't in any hurry to get her dog!
My mind is racing as I hurtle along, my feet skidding on the wet leaves. All I'm hoping is the dog is friendly and that the owner gets her dog as quickly as possible. Because it's very likely that I'm going down on the ground. And wouldn't that be pretty: three dogs (weighing in at a combined weight of about 250 pounds) and one woman amidst the tangle of leashes.
The poor photographer – what a sight (and a fright!) she must have gotten!I'm skidding along helplessly at the end of two leashes, there's growling, there's jockeying for position, there's barking, it's a whirlwind of fur and noise.
For all the noise and the fur, there wasn't any damage to anyone (except my psyche!).The woman got her dog and I got Lily and Talos back in this universe. Lily was too worked up to be any good for the rest of the shoot, and Talos was largely unaffected. He's a laid-back boy, he thought the incident was nothing but fun.
This is my plea: please (please!) leash your dogs! YOUR dog might be friendly, but other dogs don't appreciate having other dogs in their face. And you run the very real risk of letting your dog run right into an aggressive dog.
It's not fair to people who don't like dogs, who are afraid of dogs, or who don't want to be bothered by a dog. It's not fair to everyone else whose dog is on a leash. It's not fair to your own dog, who could really easily run off to chase a squirrel and wind up under the tire of a car.
Don't do it. Just leash your dog and be a responsible dog owner and considerate park user.
Amen, sister! Improperly off leashed dogs make me see red. One of our favorite parks is bordered by an elementary, a busy 4 lane commuter highway and lesser, but still well used roads on the other two sides. And has a big ol’ KEEP PETS LEASHED sign. So how often do I see off leash dogs? All the time. Off leash dogs with no recall, pooping on the kids playing fields and no owner picking up? All the time! I even went so far as to call the Humane Society and the park’s board. Neither really cared.
Sure, Haiku is friendly and the other dog might be friendly too, but Haiku is 10 pounds! Someones off leash Lab leaping and jumping on her could easily hurt or kill her.
I avoid that park when I see other dogs there, which sucks and isn’t fair to us. Should something off leash (or leashed but completely out of control) gets up in our face I always inform the owner that Haiku is very sick, but the vet said she could go out as long as she doesn’t interact with other dogs. I’m tired of trying to explain proper dog care to people that don’t care – that little lie at least gets their attention. Yeah, I’m a bad person.
And ranting – sorry! But I am glad you guys made it through and it didn’t effect Talos. Hope to see the pictures soon!
Laurie Luck says
Yes, this is the pet peeve at the top of my list. The woman with the dog was very nice. BUT. Her dog was off leash and had no recall! Why on earth would you let your dog off leash if it doesn’t come when called?! I have zero patience for clueless people, even if they are nice! Keep your dog safe – keep him on a leash!! The thing that saddens/angers me most: this person will probably be at the park tomorrow, her dog off leash. Again.
Denise Portis says
I have a balance disorder and my hearing assistance/balance dog has been rushed by off-leash dogs before. I’ve literally ended up on the ground with my dog in a forced protective stance over my toppled body. This is a very real danger. I’m not shy anymore and if I see an off-leash dog getting ready to rush me I begin yelling LOUDLY…
“I have a diability. This is a working dog. Please get your dog right away so I don’t have an accident!”
Meghan Longhurst says
I made this mistake with Kyra once. We were in a part of Patapsco where a lot of people let their dogs off, there’s not many other people hiking this out-of-the-way trail. Kyra has a good recall and never leaves where she can see me, so like a dork we hiked with her off-leash, calling her back frequently and giving hotdog. What didn’t I plan for? … horses. I had no idea horses used this trail, we’d never seen them there before. The scariest minute of my life, she sees a horse and rider on a trail up on a hill ahead of us (pretty far, I had to yell to say sorry), barks and charges. Thank GOD, she only charges a couple feet, realizes the thing is HUGE, and stops to bark at it from a distance. I hook her back on her leash and apologize 100000000 times, as visions of thrown riders and kicked dogs flash through my head. Never never never will I do that again! I just bought a nice 50ft long lead for hiking.
Learn from me – don’t let your dog off-leash while hiking!
Wow, Laurie, glad you are ok. Check the p.o. box at the end of the week!
Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart says
Been there many times. Been branded a @#$@# for hollering at people to call their dogs. I don’t mind off-leash dogs who have impulse control and a solid recall, but it’s those that just bomb at you that freak me (and Lilly) out.
There is a link to a piece I wrote on my main site called Canine Social Graces that begins with this very scenario. I don’t know how to link from here, but check it out on roxannehawn.com, if you have time.
I am so sorry you had to go through this.. My husband just ran into an off leash dog yesterday while out for the afternoon walk with Tula.. it is so frustrating when people don’t have their dogs under wraps. We have some similar issues with flexi-leads and dogs just rushing up to us with no warning. These dogs are not much easier to get under control. My husband describes this as trying to reel in a blue marlin with a weak fishing line.
Laurie Luck says
It’s a shame we have to do this, but it’s a necessity! If their dog has a perfect recall, I’m ok with them being off leash. But if they’re going to come up to my dog, I’m not ok with that!
Laurie Luck says
Some people think I’m a bit controlling – not letting my dogs off leash. Truth is, I’m scared. What if they run into a horse? A deer? A skunk? (Eeeew!) An aggressive off-leash dog? You never know what you’ll run into out there – I’d prefer to be safe than sorry.
Laurie Luck says
Yum! The dogs just got their package and they say a big WOOOF (thank you) to you!! Wow!
Laurie Luck says
Yes, I did make that plea: “Can you PLEASE CALL YOUR DOG?!” I tried to say it nicely, but being dragged about by 170 pounds of dogs makes it a little difficult to be chirpy!
Here’s the link to your wonderful “Canine Social Graces” article: http://www.roxannehawn.com/uploads/HP__spring_080__Rude_Dogs.pdf