Safe dog walking – Other dogs
We all need an escape from other people now and then and what better way than a lonely tramp across the hills with only your faithful dog for company. On the other hand it is a social activity and being out with your dog can be a great way to meet new people and to catch up with those that you already know. It is at times like this though that we need to be most on our guard. You can’t assume that every person you meet has a friendly, approachable dog so it is a good idea to watch out for obvious signs. If the other person is deliberately trying to avoid eye contact with you it probably means don’t come near me OR my dog. Body language is easy to pick up on with lots of practice and you will soon find that you can instinctively recognise both sociable dogs and owners.
You still need an element of control though, especially if yours is running free at the time. Always carry a ball or a favourite toy – these things will distract your dog from making mischief and are a good way of getting them back to you and on the lead. You can’t stop your dog from sniffing everything in sight but you don’t want them eating any old rubbish that takes their fancy. A firm “drop it” or “leave it” command should do the trick.
You should always be on the lookout for signs of fear in your dog. Some smaller dogs will romp quite happily with bigger ones, yapping away and leading them a merry dance. Others though will be frightened by the size and demeanour of a larger dog. As with everything else it is a judgement call. You will soon know when it’s safe to let yours socialise with someone else’s.
There are times, unfortunately, when play turns to fighting and having some useful phone numbers to hand is a good idea – your vet, dog warden services, pet insurance company are examples. It’s best to avoid potential conflict but sometimes it comes up unexpectedly and good training can go a long way to avoiding trouble. Your dog has to understand that YOU are in charge at all times. There are lots of ways of making the dog know that he is second in the pecking order – they are usually intelligent enough to pick up the signs that you give them (eventually).
One final point – taking other people’s dogs out. Get to know them a little first. Find out what they like and don’t like; what scares them; where they like to go most of all. Armed with such useful information should ensure that both you and the dog have an enjoyable experience. Isn’t that what taking a dog out is all about?