Leash Your Dogs

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Leash Your Dogs

The other day, I was doing some dog training with Atlas and Muse. We just so happened to be outside of a dog park, and several dogs were off leash. Now, if you don’t know already, Muse is a reactive dog. Normally, I wouldn’t even think of taking her to a dog park. But, we’re working on her reactivity around other dogs. So training at the park is good for her. But, as this woman’s dog was approaching Muse, I had to say, “Leash your dogs, please. My dog is not friendly.”

Now, some of you might be reading this and asking, “If your dog isn’t friendly, why are you at the dog park?” Training a reactive dog requires putting them near situations they react to. You can’t train a dog to not be reactive if you can’t put them in that situation.

Let’s look at that one further.

Training a Reactive Dog.

Reactive dogs don’t know how to handle certain situations. When I walk Muse up the street, and a dog runs towards a fence, she reacts. She whines, she barks, she even jumps up on me when I’m trying to control her to not go crazy. When she jumps, it’s her way of looking to me to protect her from whatever she’s feeling. Controlling her in this situation is difficult, to say the least.

However, by bringing her near dogs, not in the dog park, that would be disastrous, but near it, she’s getting better. She’s realizing that she’s not the only dog that’s outside. Because of this, her reactivity is getting better. At the beginning of each training session, she has a hard time until I get her to relax. Within 10 minutes, she’s calm, even though the dogs are still running around. It’s for this reason that other dogs should be on leash outside the dog park area.

Back to why leashes are important though. Any scenario I can come up with, a leash is important on all dogs. No matter how good you think your dog is. Unless your dog is trained to heel at all times, you need to leash your dogs.

Why Training is Important if They’re Unleashed.

Dogs FightingLeashes are so important on any dog, unless, like I said, your dog is trained well. The dogs that I’m referring to, are the dogs that stay attached to your knee no matter what’s around them. They don’t go running circles around you, bounding off with tongues lolling out the side of their mouth. I’m talking, dogs that focus on your face the entire time they’re off leash. In my 41 years, I’ve only seen this with a handful of dogs. Most just run around while their owners don’t pay attention. Otherwise, they would’ve seen Muse start to get raised hackles, ears back, rearing to attack until I stepped up to my daughter and took her leash.

Most dogs that haven’t been through major training, can get into trouble. I get that you think your dog is friendly, but there are a lot of dogs out there that aren’t. Muse isn’t friendly, Annie wasn’t friendly, and that’s 2 out of 3 of my dogs recently that aren’t friendly. Now, Annie I socialized. But, during a run, she was attacked by a dog when she was on her leash. Ever since then, she became very reactive to all dogs.

Dogs Attack Dogs on Leash.

I’ve seen several scenarios where a dog attacks another dog, even though that dog is on a leash. Dogs on leashes feel more trapped than a dog just running free. Often, when a free dog runs up on the leashed dog, the leashed dog will feel threatened and defend itself. This starts a fight, usually fairly quickly. I’ve seen a lot of people say to the other person with a leashed dog, “Don’t worry, my dog is friendly.” That doesn’t mean the other dog is friendly though.

So if the unleashed dog goes into defense mode, they both fight. It’s the unleashed dogs fault at this point, regardless who started it.

The dogs in the training class with me may not always ignore another dog even if it’s friendly. If a dog feels that it’s space is invaded, they will show signs that they want the other dog to back off. This doesn’t always work, and some dogs take the signs the wrong way. And once again, a fight can break out.

Another Reason to Leash your Dogs

In Alaska, we encounter bears and moose all the time. In fact, we just had a bear in our neighborhood about 2 weeks ago. If you’re walking your dog off leash, and that dog senses that bear, they will go after it. Whether they’re trying to protect you, or just curious about what they smell.

If a dog goes after a bear, that bear most likely will turn and attack the dog. In fact, this recently happened with a guy that was out on a hike with his dog. The dog barked at the bear, and the bear attacked the man instead. Had his dog not went after the bear, the man most likely would have been fine. His dog was off leash.

A moose will also trample a dog if the dog starts barking at the moose. I’ve seen moose run after dogs before, and that would be a terrible way for a dog to be injured. But it happens up here often.

Final Words on Leash your Dogs.

Hopefully by now you understand the importance of leashing your dogs. One of my dogs is reactive, and she’s just not trained enough to not go after other dogs yet. I keep her on a very short leash, just for this reason. Her leash, is only 1 foot long because of this. When it’s a cooler day, I also have her muzzled as a precautionary measure. Of course, most people see this and think she’s a terrible dog. She’s not. The most lovable, cuddling dog I’ve ever had; she’s a sweetheart. It just so happens that she’s not confident around other dogs yet, and needs that training.

So, when you’re leaving the dog park and your dogs don’t stay attached to your knee, please leash them. Too many unforeseen circumstances can happen that can cause your dog to get hurt. Especially if that dog jumps on another dog that isn’t having any of it. Even if your dog is generally very happy and friendly, too many other dogs aren’t.

I can’t think of a single reason in which dogs should be off leash. Maybe because it’s too hard for you to walk three dogs? Get a better leash. Or, maybe you just don’t feel like it, well, if your dog gets hurt, would you feel like it next time? And the vet bills would be your own to pay, not the other person whose dog was on a leash.

For the sake of your dogs, leash your dogs. At all times.

4 thoughts on “Leash Your Dogs

  1. I live in the middle of nowhere and I often took my dogs for a walk off leash because I was certain that no one was around. No one was living here yet. Now, however, more people have moved here and so I started taking my dogs out on a leash. The only problem is, though, that NO ONE else does it, and it drives me nuts. I don’t care how friendly the other dogs are, two of my dogs are friendly too but one isn’t, and just that one dog can turn things around. How often have I heard from people “nothing’s going to happen” as if I’m overreacting, but I’ve stopped taking my dogs out at certain times of the day and week because of those people, because they keep on thinking that “nothing’s going to happen” and maybe nothing will, but they cannot guarantee that.

    I also plan my beach trips according to times of the day when the beach is usually empty, so I can take my dogs there without having to worry about others having theirs off leash. We don’t have dog parks here, but a lot of wild nature. We have to take our dogs on a leash when we take them for walks, especially with others around.

    1. Christine,

      That’s exactly what people try to say to me when I’ve seen their dogs off leash. I want to yell at them, trust me, something will happen. My dog is NOT a good dog around other dogs. She’s proven that over and over already. No fights yet, but she rears back to strike just before I pull her forward. Muse would attack in a heartbeat if I wasn’t watching her for it, and didn’t react before she could. She’s fast, but I’m faster. I will say, since bringing her into my life, it’s been a little stressful to say the least. But at night, when she’s cuddling on my lap it’s worth it. But some days, some days, it’s hard. Especially to keep the two here happy and content and not attempting to fight. Those are the days I dread. Breaking them up. I suppose as years progress though, I’ll be more confident about it. But still being new at dog fights, it’s definitely wearing on me. Oh well though. I suppose it happens to a lot of multi dog households.

      I’m glad that you’re being cautious with your dogs though. Saves you from having to rush in and attempt to separate the dogs. That’s not the fun part, I’m sure you know.

      Thanks for reading and stopping by!

      Katrina

      1. Breaking up dog fights is horrible. I’ve had to do it too and it drains you emotionally and psychologically. It happened when Apollo still wasn’t diagnosed with a mental disorder, but I soon realized that I had to keep him separate, which I did.
        I think that Muse and Atlas can learn to be together. It may take time, but I think they can.

        1. Thanks Christine,

          They’re actually really good together for the most part. Right now, they’re sleeping not 5 ft away from each and they cuddle a lot during the day. I’ve learned what starts fights with them. Small toys, which one will have it in their mouth and not share will start a fight. Treats, if one is getting them and the other wants one will start a fight. Play time turning too rough will start a fight.

          I have measures in place to keep fighting from happening. When I leave the room for extended periods of time, I keep them separate. Muse has a kennel I’ll put her in, or if I’m in the shower, I bring one in there with me. If they try to play, I put muzzles on them. This keeps them from latching on. Toys are only allowed while I’m watching and it has to be big enough for them both to play with it. If they start to get too wound up, then I take the toy away. They usually try for play time at this point, so I muzzle them.

          Being watchful and diligent will keep the peace. It does require a lot of attention and effort, but honestly, them not hurting each other is worth it to me. So, I’ll keep on training them to redirect their attention to me, and keep the peace until they’ve learned that I’m the boss and they need to listen. So far, it’s working well.

          Thanks for stopping by. Sorry you had to deal with fights too. It is stressful to say the least.

          Katrina

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