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Kuranda Dog Beds - Rethinking dog beds
Kuranda Dog Beds
— October 9, 2012 —

Put a Leash on That Dog!
by Daniel McElroy Jr.

A brief discussion on why leashing your dog is a good idea.

Well, it happened again. Just this week my dogs were charged by an off-leash dog. I hate when this happens for a number of reasons. I have two dogs that are pretty social. I also have one that is what I like to call, “dog-selective”. Peace, a 7 year old male Rottweiler likes other dogs just fine. He’s a little pushy in meetings, which can bother some dogs, but he generally doesn’t initiate any aggression. Jelly, a 2 year old female Rottweiler basically has no interest in other dogs, preferring to stay with her own pack and let dogs go on about their day. I honestly believe that if she never met another dog she would be just fine. She never behaves aggressively, but will give an, “I’m uncomfortable” growl and back away if a strange dog invades her space.

Gunnar is the one who I am most careful with. He’s an 11 year old pit bull mix. He’s actually more mix-breed than pit-bull. He is not terribly social, but can be introduced to dogs slowly. After taking a few proper introductory steps, he accepted Jelly into the house last year and I think he genuinely likes having her around. What he doesn’t like is having a super-excited, strange dog run up and get in his face.

So in this particular scenario, I am walking Gunnar and Jelly out in front of our building. They are leashed, as usual, and a new dog (off leash, of course) charges over. I see him coming and start to tell the owner to stop his dog. The response I get is, “He’s fine.” I say, “He won’t be if he comes over here.” Of course, the dog is not trained to recall properly, and I was left to deal with three dogs who are about to have “issues”. Fortunately, the little dog is deterred by a firm “NO!” and a stomp of the foot. He turns tail and heads back to his owner.

Now, there are a few things that could have gone wrong with this scenario. First, if the dog had not retreated, a fight may have happened. Second, what if my actions had made the little guy run out into the street? I decided the best action would be to send him away to prevent a fight, but since he was not well trained, what if he had gone the wrong way? All of this could be avoided by simply leashing the dog.

I could spend all day telling stories of off-leash dogs that have ended in tragedy. A number of years ago, we had a neighbor who would walk an old brown pit bull off leash all the time. “Coffee” was very friendly and mellow. One evening a few kids were playing with fireworks. They threw one at the dog and she spooked into the street. She was hit by a car and killed. Sure, the kids were wrong and it was a terrible thing to do. The dog also should have been on a leash. The point is, even a well trained dog can spook or be startled.

There are dogs that operate with a very high degree of competence in the city. Seeing-eye dogs actually help their visually impaired owners navigate traffic, crowds and buildings.

At Bark Avenue, we have trained dogs full-time for over a decade. Dogs we have trained have been great pets, therapy dogs and competition obedience dogs. We train dogs to be obedient on-leash and off (where safe and legal). We still advise our clients to put a leash on their dogs in the city. I won’t walk my own dogs off leash anywhere that a startle or quick reaction could get them hurt. Our dogs aren’t equipped to handle the dangers that exist around them. It’s our job to protect them.