Yesterday I wrote a post about leash laws. It was a bit rant-y but it can be very frustrating watching months worth of training go down the drain because of an off-leash dog. I kept coming back to the idea that y’know, if more people were simply more considerate of others, there would probably be more off-leash public areas and fewer incidents with off-leash dogs.
If people just thought about others for a moment, all sorts of dogs and handlers could co-exist nicely. I recently read a post on an online forum that actually made me so very sad for humanity. The poster bragged about having his/her dog off-leash at an on leash park and said that if someone yelled at him/her to leash her dog that she/he would wait until he/she was a few feet away then put the dog on its flexi and not lock it as a way to rub it in the face of the person requesting the leash.
Anyone else really bothered by that one? Geez! I understand being upset if someone is being a real jerk about asking, but wanting to rub their nose in it? That is just over the top. I mean I’ve certainly had to yell at people who were too far away to communicate with them, “please, could you leash your dog while we pass”–it wasn’t anything personal against them or mean–just a request that they follow the leash law for 90 seconds while I walk on by.
You know, I think I’m a pretty considerate dog owner and I’ve got to say, it’s not that hard. If I’m biking with Rio and I’m about to pass someone, especially someone with a dog, I always give as much room as possible and say, “hey, I’m coming up behind you on a bike with a dog.” I never know what dog may be reactive to bikes or other dogs so I want handlers to be aware that they will be passed by two potential triggers. If I’m walking in town with my dogs I always give other handlers the right of way by pulling my dogs into a recessed doorway or in between parked cars or around the opposite side of a tree/trashcan/bench–unless, of course, the other handler does the same thing. If I have my pups off-leash and I see a person (with or without a dog), I’ll leash both of my pups up without being asked to do so until the person has gone by or I’ll take my dogs to a new area (even though if my dogs are off leash in an on-leash area they are probably practicing disc or rally or agility and are not just running loose). I never have to be asked to leash my dogs because I do it without being asked as a common courtesy to my fellow patrons. If I come to a park with other dogs off-leash (not a dog park), I’ll wait for the dogs currently using the park to leave or I will let those handlers know that I’ll be walking my dogs on leash on the opposite side of the large park or in the woods. I always focus on my dogs while we are out and about so they aren’t getting into trouble and they aren’t on flexi’s. If I encounter someone on the same sidewalk coming towards me, I’ll either cross the street, walk in the street if it’s safe, or yeild the right of way by moving off the sidewalk into a driveway or something (unless, of course the other handler moves first).
I don’t think I’m a superhero going out of my way to do these things–honestly I just think they are common courtesy. I just wish more people felt like these actions were the ‘right’ things to do. Maybe I’m an atypical only-child but I try to think of others when I’m out and about and try not infringe on another person’s experience.
Just think about it for a moment, if more dog handlers thought about how their behavior (or their dog’s) effected OTHER people/dogs, we’d probably have far fewer incidents. If people yielded the right of way to another, if they leashed their dogs when they encounter others in an on-leash park (or better yet, followed the rules), if they were honest about their dog’s off-leash reliability, if people would simply ask before allowing their dog to greet another on leash, etc. it would be so fantastic. With the added courtesy and responsibility, there is a chance that dogs may regain some of their domain.
It’s not hard to be considerate of others and it certainly is not inconvenient to be considerate of others–true, sometimes I have to wait a moment and sometimes I may finish our walk on leash and sometimes I have to find a new place to play. As dog owners, we are all forced to share the few spaces that are still available for dogs. The domain of places where dogs are welcomed is continually shrinking–poorly mannered dogs and inconsiderate owners have a lot to do with this. If we could all be just a tad more considerate of others, we could co-exist so nicely and perhaps regain some places that are currently out of bounds for dogs. So next time you are out and about with your Fido, take a moment to think about how your choices may be effecting others.