Tails About Town: Dog Walking Etiquette

Dog walking etiquette is hot topic at the moment. I’ve noticed community signs, campaigns from dog services and numerous articles highlighting the rules we should abide to when walking our dog.

The rules are simple:

  • Always put your dog on a lead when approaching a strange dog
  • Never let your dog run up to another dog on a lead
  • Always ask the owner if it’s ok to say hello to a dog

Fletcher and I always stick to these rules, however sometimes, I’ll admit, it’s just not possible. If we’re in the field nearby our home, Fletcher is generally at least 250 metres in front of me, sometimes he is not even in sight – as a spaniel his likes to venture into bushes. There’s simply no way I could catch up with him to put him on a lead. Fortunately, I know he is a gentle soul and he would never be aggressive towards another dog or their owner. He wouldn’t harm wildlife either. In fact, he recently hid behind my legs because he was scared of a crow!

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If he bounds up to a dog on a lead before I can reach him, I apologise immediately and if he gets snapped, it’s simply his own fault for not listening and I’d take responsibility. Thankfully, most people are happy to let him play despite their dog being on lead. He actually knows which dogs in our area are snappy and goes out of his way to walk around them, it’s quite comical.

Unfortunately, there are a few dog owners that simply don’t follow the rules and it’s those people that ruin it for everyone. This year, we’ve had two encounters where dogs off lead have attacked Fletcher.

Earlier this year, we went for a walk near the office in Elsworth. There were two dogs off lead; a Cockerpoo and an Alsatian. I was weary of the Alsatian and immediately went to put Fletcher on the lead. However its owner claimed he was “friendly”. Within seconds it pinned Fletcher to the floor, furiously snapping at him. Fletcher laid on the ground and screamed. Then came the classic line: “Oh, he’s never done that before!”

He may well not of, but she struggled to control the huge dog and wasn’t willing to put him on a lead after the commotion was over. I had to insist she do so. Thankfully, Fletcher was fine, just a little bruised and upset for a few days.

The next incident happened in Cley-next-the-Sea. Fletcher, my husband and I were enjoying a lovely walk along the coastal path. Fletcher was happily bouncing around minding his own business, when two dogs came charging along, pushed him to the ground and attacked. The owners made no attempt to pull their dogs away. My poor puppy curled into a ball and waited until it was over. My husband had to pull them off.

The main culprit had a muzzle so fortunately, Fletcher wasn’t hurt. However the lack of respect from the owners, who didn’t even apologise left us shocked. When I questioned why they weren’t on a lead, the reply was: “They’re fine!” as they walked on by.

So please, if you know your dog doesn’t like other dogs, put it on a lead and let the rest of us enjoy our walk!

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