Does it really matter if my dog runs up to another dog?
As amazing as it is to know that your dog loves other dogs, can have fun and run around with them and have a good old social time, there are huge risks attached to your dog running away from you and key benefits to being able to keep your dogs close by your side.
Sticking close to you regardless of the distractions around means your dog can be clipped back on lead if needed i.e. when you see people, dogs, livestock, horses, vehicles or when you are close to a road,
Having chance to clip and unclip the lead on will also improve their frustration levels as they understand that the lead going on doesn’t mean that it is the end of the walk (something negative),
Sticking close by also improves the chances of them having good recall as they are close enough to be focusing and listening to you
Impulse control will also improve, as they are having to control themselves in a busy environment with lots of temptation to sniff and play
For them to choose to come to you rather than run into the distance when they see another dog shows that they aren’t learning to ignore you
Chances are they are seeing you as more fun and interesting than what is ahead
Your dog is getting rewarded for running away from you by the amazing experience of sniffing another dog, getting a treat or a fuss from a stranger.
They are learning to ignore your calls, and will repeat this behaviour. Chances are their recall will be poor or sporadic at best,
All of the positives are away from you. By learning that good things happen away from you will mean they will repeat this behaviour and they are therefore more likely to run off.
For your dog to run away from you is a safety hazard as the situation they are approaching may be dangerous or life threatening i.e. a busy road,
*Image courtesy of Spruce Pets
If they are jumping up at a person, not only can this be annoying and painful but if it causes a serious injury, it can be deemed as dangerous and out of control under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. This in itself can mean you could face a fine or prison time. All of which could be easily prevented.
If you are struggling with any of the above points, drop me a message as I’d love to help:
Your dog very well may be the friendliest dog in the world, but have you considered the dog that they are running into may not be? Are you right there to deal with, or know how to deal with a potential dog fight situation? Scary questions but it is so important to consider your dogs’ safety and their recall when out and about.
Some key signs that you need to recall your dog
- A group of dogs being walked on or off lead. A pack of dogs can be intimidating and may not like to be approached
- Dogs on lead are generally on lead for a reason. Given space and time to do so, responsible dog owners should be popping their dogs back on lead when we they see dogs or people ahead.
- An owner veering away from you or looking a bit nervous, may know their dog needs space or may feel uncomfortable themselves. Owner anxiety can transfer through the dog’s lead so its good to be aware of their collective energy
- Dogs body language is a good indicator of how they are feeling. However if you can see signs of tension in their body, if they are leaning away, if they are bearing their teeth, if their heckles are up (some but not all examples of nervous or aggressive body language), you are more than likely too close and could be heading into a dangerous situation.
*There will be lots of other non-dog related scenarios too.
Potential impact on other dog
If the other dog is not as friendly, without realising it you may actually be making a “reactive” dog more reactive, or a nervous dog even more shut down.
At Paula’s Pet Services, we walk a variety of “reactive” dogs. Being reactive doesn’t mean being aggressive but all equally need space.
We have had:
- over excitable dogs that like to bark,
- dogs that are working on proximity training to encourage closer recall and focus,
- nervous dogs that we are working on building their confidence
- dogs that react to other dogs because they are unsure and need their space
- pups in training who we don’t want to be practicing bad habits, which include running off to see other people and dogs.
- dogs who are older and more fragile,
- on medication for pain relief
- dogs recovering from surgery.
We like to keep our sessions calm and uninterrupted as possible. We come away from other dogs, bring them to the side as much as possible, or U-Turn away, if given enough time and space. Consideration from other dog owners is appreciated and very welcomed.
In our groups, they get chance to socialise in a safe and controlled way and practise their recall by playing lots of fun games.
Health and Safety
As you don’t know if the other dog is from a Covid-19 positive household, petting or mixing of dogs is frowned upon in the current climate. To avoid risk of cross contamination, social distancing should be maintained at all times. As much as your dog may want to mix with a dog in the distance, or get a fuss off a lovely passer- by, it is important to consider your well- being and the well- being of others who may be in the more vulnerable category.
More detailed guidelines can be found on the below link from the Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG)
At Paula’s Pet Services, we aim to steer clear of dogs and people for this reason and have policies and procedures in place to avoid cross contamination, as much as is feasibly possible.
It is worth noting that we will be walking dogs from Covid-19 positive households, and I am sure other dog walkers, volunteers and family friends will be as well. So please be responsible and do not mix your dogs with others.
So why do I love to see dog owners pop their dogs on lead? It shows consideration and respect for my dogs and it also gives me a visual cue that I need to give their dog space and extra consideration too.
If you need help with recall or puppy training or would like your doggo to join us on one of our adventure trails, feel free to drop us an email: email@example.com