It is becoming increasingly challenging to find a safe space to enjoy a walk with dogs.
I see posts on social media that blame the people that walk their dogs on lead for being the cause of an off lead dogs inappropriate approach and subsequent behaviours.
Is it easier to have a dog off lead than to work on recall skills, social skills or to learn about dog communication and appropriate behaviour?
Is it a lack of understanding about responsible pet parenting, dog law and the impact an inappropriate approach can have on another dog, human, wildlife or livestock?
Is it a sense of entitlement about where and when we should be able to walk our dogs?
Is it a lack of care or empathy for our own or others dogs, people, livestock and wildlife?
Is it a belief that nothing will ever go wrong because it never has (yet)?Is it because we think that dogs just need to be dogs and that they must have their freedom and must be walked off lead to run and chase?
Is it because we have not experienced being on the wrong end of an inappropriate approach, or haven’t seen what can happen to another dog, person, wildlife or livestock when things go wrong?
It isn’t a persons fault that their dog has no recall, lacks social skills, has high prey/chase drive or needs space for a variety of different reasons.
It is a persons fault if they know this and do not take the simple measure of supporting the dog with a lead. The standard type of leads we usually see are short which can limit choice for dogs to sniff and explore or they tend to be extender type leads that can fail and cause significant issues both ends of the lead. Learning to use a long line or longer length lead safely can make a huge difference to safety and enjoying an enriched walk both ends of the lead.
I LOVE teaching lead skills with pet parents. It has so many benefits including connection and communication as well as safety and security.
There is no shame in walking a dog on a lead.
It is not cruel to walk a dog on lead.
A dog is not being denied quality exercise when a lead is used in a way that enhances the walk.
It is not the person walking a dog on leads ‘fault’ that their dog is on lead. It is not the on lead dog that is the cause of an off lead unskilled dogs inappropriate behaviour.
Some dogs are on lead because they are a flight risk, they may be newly fostered or adopted, they may be recovering from a trauma from an off lead unskilled dog, the pet parent may prefer the safety and connection of the lead, the dog may be deaf or blind, elderly or in recovery from an illness or surgery and having light duty walks.
Some dogs are on lead because they are uncomfortable around unfamiliar dogs or they prefer their own space, they may not feel comfortable if a dog gets too close or tries to make physical contact.
It isn’t cruel to have a dog on lead. We share spaces more than ever now as the dog population has increased exponentially.
We can choose quiet spaces, quiet, off peak times, stay away from the busy and densely populated places and choose on lead only areas.
It is simply getting more challenging to have a safe walk in spite of these measures and our best efforts.
I am seeing dogs off lead without collars, dogs off lead and out of site of their care giver, dogs bolting and missing for days or worse.
I had a very traumatic experience when an off lead dog ran straight in front of my car resulting in an awful impact, the dog running off and in spite of spending hours searching for the dog and guardian I was unable to find out who the guardian was and we believe the dog was found deceased the next day.
I don’t know if the dog had escaped the garden or the house or if he or she was a latch key dog (common place in some areas) or if the dog had wandered away from the guardian.
Being kind, respectful and empathetic when sharing space with dogs can make the world of difference.
The lead is a simple piece of equipment, it is inexpensive and can literally be a lifeline for many.
There are some dogs that have great social skills that enjoy off lead walks. They don’t go out of sight of their guardian, they don’t make inappropriate approaches and they can read other dogs body language well. There are lots of private hire, secure spaces to use for off lead time if our dogs are generally on lead in public spaces.
Our dogs are often off lead for approximately 85% of the time while they are at home and in our gardens.
This post is not about judgement and is not intended to trigger negative emotions. It is written with positive intentions and I hope it can inspire and help raise awareness about why some dogs are on lead and to embrace our differences with our dogs centre stage for welfare and well being.
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