Please, leash your dog when asked.

“It’s okay… He’s friendly!” Seriously, if I hear this one more time when I am out trying to walk my dog and I ask someone to leash or call their dog, I’m pretty sure my head is going to pop right off my shoulders.

Mentioning how great your dog is or, worse yet, becoming indignant are not appropriate responses when someone politely asks you to call your dog back to you or asks you to restrain your dog, especially in a leash-required area.

Look, it’s not like I’m heading to the dog park or the off-leash trails and asking everyone to leash their dog just so we can walk in the dog park or on the trails. I know my dog and I know that dog parks and most other off-leash areas are not going to work for Simon unless under VERY special circumstance (like in my dreams).

It is not unreasonable for someone to ask you to leash your dog when you are in a leash-required area. It’s really not and it’s for your dog’s safety as much as it is for mine. To paraphrase Queen Bey, if you like it, then you should put a leash on it.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how great your dog is, if a leash is required, just put a leash on your dog until you reach an off-leash area. And, this may come as a HUGE surprise, but it’s actually okay if someone asks you to restrain your dog in an off-leash area too. (Gasp!) Did I really just say that?!? I did because at the end of the day it’s about all of us being responsible dog owners and doing what is best for all the dogs in the community and that includes educating ourselves about leash reactivity, dog behavior and canine body language.

Don’t take it personally.Leash-it-article1

I promise, nine times out of 10 the request that you leash or call your dog is not a reflection on you or your dog. It might be, but more than likely the person doing the asking has a really good reason for the request because they have a dog that may be:

Blank4   Leash reactive with other dogs

Blank4   Not good with strangers

Blank4   Sick or injured

Blank4   An older, cranky-pants dog

Blank4   Fearful

Blank4   In training

 

Listen first.

Don’t lecture the asker, get defensive, offer unsolicited advice or pass yourself off as an expert in dog behavior. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you take offense at being asked or offer the aforementioned head-popping response (see opening paragraph), it means you’re not an expert. The mere fact that someone is asking you to control your dog in some way indicates that they know their dog and they know what to do to manage the situation. Believe me, those of us who have to ask are pretty much in training mode most of the time, often walk our dogs in the dark of the night to avoid others,  and we’re sad and embarrassed that we don’t have the “perfect” dog.

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Most likely we are working with, or have worked with a trainer (or a few trainers…or many trainers) and we are doing our best to help our dog be successful. Having your dog charge or even approach in a friendly but unwelcome manner, or having strangers approach without asking, can set everyone back quite a bit.

If you want to help, ask if you and your, now leashed, dog can do anything specific to help. For example, you could offer to do walking passes or walk alongside for a few blocks while we work on our dog’s reactivity or pulling. Again, don’t be offended if your offer is kindly passed on. It is generally not a reflection on you or your dog but on how we are assessing our dog in that moment.

[fa icon=”paw”]  Simon Says

If you love me, leash me.

I know that many of you have had similar experiences. How did you handle it?