Spring is here … and so are the crazies!
Although it hasn’t really felt like spring in my neck of the woods yet (I mean, it was snowing yesterday when I was playing with Shayne and Rio outside!), it is indeed getting to that lovely time of year. With spring comes more sunshine, warm temperatures, longer days, more time outside, more off-leash dogs, more dogs tethered in yards, more dogs who have been cooped up all winter getting out for the first time, and more owners not picking up poop.
In just the last week, even with temperatures well below normal, I have seen at least 10 different dogs on walks who I didn’t see at all during the winter while at my mid-day walking appointments. We have encountered 2 dogs in a poorly fenced yard (who escaped the fence), 2 who were barking at us from a front porch (no firm barrier/tether keeping him there that I could see), one who barked at us from a back deck, 2 normal relaxed pups we saw while walking, and three reactive dogs who were quite out of control. I was lucky that the two dogs who escaped their poorly fenced backyard were friendly and I was able to shoo them away before they got too close.
With all of these encounters in a week that has been 20-30 degrees below normal, I’m not looking forward to what average temperatures will bring. One of the things I have been much more reliable about in the last week or two has been carrying my can of Direct Stop/Spray Shield. I got away from carrying it every walk in the winter when our walks were shorter and there were no other dogs out and about and it was a challenge to hook on my belt/pockets with gloves and layers and layers of coats on but now that it’s getting warmer I won’t walk without it handy. I hope that I never need to use it but I need to make sure that I can protect myself and my clients. Direct Stop/Spray Shield is the only product by Premier that I still buy because there are no other products that are as effective and safe for dealing with low to moderate level aggressive dogs that is humane as possible. I have it hooked on to my new Doog Walkie Belt and it’s perfectly accessible without being in the way. Also in my Doog Walkie Belt is a pouch of treats/kibble that I can use to distract an oncoming friendly off-leash dog if needed (throw at the dog’s face and then get out of the area ASAP).
The spring always seems worse than summer or fall because a lot of the dogs we encounter have been stuck in the house all winter. Since they never got out during the winter, they are often extra amped up, extra wild, extra reactive, and many dogs are taking up their spots in their yards or on their chains (sad face). With the increase in dogs in the environment and many dogs who have some spring fever issues, I really urge people to be extra careful walking during this time of the year. Whether that means carrying a citronella spray like Spray Shield, changing your walking route to avoid potential off-leash dogs, carrying treats/kibble to distract friendly but loose dogs, or carrying an umbrella/airhorn/walking stick to help distract the other dog or block/protect yourself, it’s important to do something to be prepared. I would absolutely be worth taking this same caution to the dog park if you are someone who visits dog parks–I do not have proof of this, but I bet there is an increase in incidents in dog parks during the spring when dogs are coming out of the woodwork.
There are a lot of great things about spring but dogs who have been cooped up for 4 or 5 months is not one of them and dogs being kept outside for hours and hours is not one of them either. Stay safe out there while the crazies take their first few trips outside!