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Posts tagged ‘leash laws’

Should I Leash My Dog? [Flowchart]

Ever wonder when it’s ok to let your dog off leash?

Check out this handy flowchart created by the fabulous Jenny Williams. In just a few text bubbles (and with a sense of humor) it’ll help you make a responsible, respectful, safe choice!

Download and print the pdf here to share! Note: this is not available for commercial use. Jenny Williams gets all the props for this one. Please be sure to give her credit when you share it. And check out her site: ShouldILeashMyDog.com for more!

Download and print the pdf to share! Note: this is not available for commercial use. Jenny Williams gets all the props for this one. Please be sure to give her credit and check out her site: ShouldILeashMyDog.com for more!


Hate charts? Here’s the super short version: if there’s a leash law, the answer is “leash your dog.”

And just in case you’re wondering, you are not exempt from leash laws, even if you are*:

• The owner of a Lab
• A board member of an animal shelter
• A middle age white man without a criminal record
• The owner of a friendly dog
• In a parking lot near hiking trails
• A donor to your local humane society

*Yes, these are all real excuses used by real people. To my face.

Listen, let’s save some time: don’t bother with the rationalizing. It’s the law. Just like stop lights, it’s in everyone’s best interests if we obey these laws, rather than justifying why we’re the exception. Can you imagine if we all decided we were the exception to obeying red stop lights because we thought it was a dumb law and we’re better drivers than everyone else?! Crash, Bang, Blam-o.

Leash laws exist to keep all of us safe, including our dogs. They help create public spaces that are safe and welcoming to everyone, including the elderly, children, and the disabled.

There are a lot of us that don’t want to interact with loose dogs or are afraid of them. We rely on leash laws  and purposely choose to visit areas where they exist, with the expectation that dogs will not be loose. When you let your dogs loose in areas with leash laws, you take away our right to choose. Not cool.

Here’s something you may not have considered:

Simply seeing a dog that is not leashed, even when that dog is very well behaved, can cause panic for some people.

While you may know that your dog won’t cause any trouble, the other person is freaking out about what might potentially occur. They’re afraid that without the leash, your dog might suddenly approach them.

Why would they be afraid of my friendly dog? I clearly have him under voice control!

Here’s why: Many of us have had frightening encounters with dogs just seconds after their owners swore to us that their dogs were under control/friendly. We understand that not all dogs are the same, but one bitten, twice shy, you know? It just scares the pants off of us to take a gamble with another dog that may or may not be as well behaved as their owner promises us. It’s not personal.

Plus, there are these reasons people might be afraid of a potential interaction with your dog:

• They have a physical limitation, such as poor balance or lack of mobility.
• They’re senior citizens.
• They’re children.
• They rely on Service Dogs that must not be distracted or harmed.
• They (or their dogs) have been bitten or attacked in the past.
• They own dogs who are injured, sick, or otherwise unable to safely interact with other dogs.
• They have a phobia of dogs. Remember, phobias like the ones lots of us have of spiders, snakes, or of heights, are irrational. But that doesn’t make it less debilitating (this guy died trying to flee a friendly dog).


For these folks, a leash functions as a visual signal, as much as a physical restraint.

The leash says to the concerned party: “Don’t worry. My dog won’t suddenly run over, knock you off your crutches, and eat your baby.” Seeing the leash prevents the internal panic-show from starting. Please have compassion for people and use that leash. You’ll be someone’s hero, without even knowing it!

Beyond those reasons, leash laws exist because we all have different ideas and standards for what constitutes a “well trained, friendly” dog. This simple management tool provides a baseline of safety for all kinds of dogs to be out in public, even if the handler is new to dog training (we were all new at some point!). Leashes are not perfect or foolproof – learn how to use a retractable here and leash etiquette here but with one you’re covering the bases and being responsible.

With more cars, more people, and more dogs, crammed into less space than ever before, we all need to have our dogs under our full control. Leashes keep dogs safe and out of trouble. Dogs aren’t robots. Even good, well trained dogs make not-so-great choices sometimes. A leash can keep your dog from chasing a ball in front of bus, getting spooked by gunfire and taking off into the woods, accidentally scratching a kid and bringing on a lawsuit, French kissing a porcupine, or chasing a herd of deer across a park and making you a YouTube star.

Look, just because we want you to leash your dog in certain public areas, doesn’t mean we’re scrooges. Lots of us like watching dogs run off leash. The truth is that the perfect complement to areas with leash laws are designated, accessible, and welcoming off-leash areas. This allows everyone to enjoy public recreation with their dogs, in whatever environment – on or off leash – that suits them best. When both on and off leash areas exist, it gives everyone a choice and prevents responsible dog owners who prefer off leash recreation from being unfairly marginalized. If you or someone you know is interested in increasing off-leash areas, please see the following article from Bark Magazine.

In the end, that’s what all of us want: to choose what is best for us and our dogs, to be treated with common courtesy, and to be provided with safe options for recreation in our communities. Also, some of us want free ice cream cones every Friday. But since we can’t get everything we want, we’ll settle for dog owners who obey leash laws.

Be responsible, respectful, safe!

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The Secret Life of Dog Catchers

When I came across the book, The Secret Life of Dog Catchers: An Animal Control Officers Passion to Make a Difference, I wasted no time in reaching out to the author Shirley Zindler to ask if she’d like to send me a copy for review. She generously did and when I got it, I gulped the book down in three fast sittings.

cover book

Shirley is an animal control officer in Northern California, and in addition to her demanding job, her family has fostered and rehomed more than 400 dogs. Wow-wee. She blogs for Bark Magazine, has competed in obedience, agility, conformation and lure coursing, and has done pet therapy. Shirley is one busy woman.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with a few fantastic Animal Control Officers (ACOs). In addition to their incredible skills (with animals and people), bravery, and professionalism, these good eggs have all had two things in common: endless compassion and a wicked sense of humor. Shirley has both in spades. In her book, she shares stories from the field and her home life that will make you tear up, bust out laughing, get angry and frustrated, and then get inspired. I suspect that Shirley feels all those things in the course of just a single day, judging by her heavy and varied case load.

Through it all – from comical calls in the middle of the night to heart breaking neglect cases and frightening stand-offs with criminals –  Shirley’s stories reveal she’s one of those rare people that can stay positive despite the never-ending challenges that she faces. When the rest of us would be throwing in the towel, Shirley keeps going, and then writes about her experiences so that we get to walk in her capable shoes for a while. You’ll happily go along for the ride as she investigates hoarders, raids a cock fight, rescues wildlife, and works with the coroner’s office.

If you’ve worked as an ACO or in a shelter, this book will be the perfect combination of the surprising and familiar. You’ll see some of your experiences reflected in her validating vignettes.  But whether or not you’ve worked in animal welfare, readers will be rooting for Shirley every time she steps up to the plate, trying to make her corner of the world a better place for animals.

After I finished the book, I was left wishing I could take Shirley out for a margarita. I have no doubt she has so many more great stories to tell!  Since we couldn’t meet for drinks, Shirley was kind enough to answer a few questions for me  about The Secret Life of Dog Catchers and her work:

shirley and her pets

Photo credit: Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat


Jessica: There are a lot of misconceptions about what an ACO does and what they have the power to do. From some of the stories in the book, it’s safe to say much of the public thinks that if a pet is in less than ideal conditions, ACOs can swoop in and remove the animals immediately. What would you like the public to understand about your ability to intervene?

Shirley: I often have to tell the public that I can only enforce the law. I try to educate people, but I can’t make them care for the animal the way the concerned party, or I, want it cared for, only the minimum that the law requires. I do everything I can to make a difference, but I often lose sleep about the things I can’t change.


J: In your work you have to enforce the law and hold owners accountable, yet in many of the stories you write about working to provide resources, education, and support to families who want to do better, but need assistance. How do you determine when it’s the right time to provide education vs. punishment?

Shirley: I almost always try and help if the person is willing to work with me to improve the animals conditions. Many people want to care for their animals, but lack the knowledge or finances to do it right. I can sometimes provide the things they need to make things better. It might be management, training or nutrition advice, help finding a new home or occasionally, money out of my own pocket. I don’t want to seize their animal, I just want them to take better care of it. If the situation is severe, or if the person is unwilling to work with me, then I may seize or prosecute or usually both.

 

J: Have you found that when people know better or have access to affordable resources, they do better?

 

Shirley: Many people do just need educating or help and I’ve seen things greatly improved plenty of times. Some people have no interest in doing anything different, so we use the law where needed to provide compliance.


J: In the book, I was really struck by how the calls you receive often seem to be so subjective: reports of attacks, abuse, and grave injuries often turned out to be really minor, almost comically so – for example, a dog attack turns out to be a loose, but happy Mastiff. Or a dog dying from being hit by a car turns out to be a dog with a broken toe nail found by the road. In many cases the public’s perception of what they’re experiencing doesn’t match reality! How does that have an impact on your work?

Shirley: We get so many calls that are misinterpreted that sometimes we forget how serious a call can actually be! Its important to stay alert to the dangers and to the possibility of serious neglect or abuse.

 

shirley zindler

Pelican rescue: All in a day’s work for Shirley!


J: Leash laws are a hot topic with Team DINOS. Many of us live in communities with leash laws, but they’re not enforced, making it difficult for us to safely walk our dogs in public spaces. Do you have any thoughts on the effectiveness of leash laws?

Shirley: Our leash law fine is around $250, so that gets peoples attention, but we don’t have the staff to patrol every problem area all the time. Our community has lots of great dog parks and one amazing dog beach so I always try and direct the off-leash people there. I will cite people who are repeat offenders, but often verbal warnings and making a show of presence in problem areas is helpful.

I spent many years taking my dogs to dog parks almost daily and had almost no problems. I presently hit an off leash beach several times a month with my four dogs ranging from 18 pounds to 120 pounds. My dogs absolutely love it and its a great way for me to blow of work stress, just watching a bunch of loved dogs running free and playing with each other. My dogs (mostly rescues from bad situations) have always been very well trained and well socialized, but of course some dogs don’t appreciate strange dogs regardless of their history.

I have seen problems with off leash dogs charging up to leashed dogs who are not comfortable with it, and some fights have resulted. I do what I can to get people to follow the law and be more respectful of others, but some just don’t care. And of course many of the dogs are completely out of control and the owners have no idea how to fix it.


J: I’d love to hear your thoughts on dealing with loose dogs. We all run into them while we’re out walking our dogs and it puts gray hairs on our heads! What are some of your tips for safely evading loose dogs? How can we work with our neighbors and ACOs to get folks to properly contain their dogs?

Shirley: As a teen I had two large aggressive dogs run out of their yard as I was passing by and attack my small dog and nearly kill him. Even the owner could barely get his dogs off and it took a long time. They just hung on and pulled from each end. Truly horrifying. There probably wasn’t much I could have done in that case except maybe pepper spray, if I had had it.

Most cases are not nearly so severe but a few times when confronted with a truly aggressive dog I have removed my dogs leashes to use as a weapon, also freeing my dog to do  normal greeting behaviors, or possibly outrun the other dog if needed. I do think it’s important to stay calm and keep a loose lead if at all possible. I often see people getting hysterical and yanking their dog away from an approaching dog, causing an increase in agitation, disruption of normal greeting behaviors, and sometimes resulting in a fight that could have been prevented.

Teaching appropriate behavior to your own dog is helpful too. When a dog is lunging and snarling on leash, it may bring a fight from an off leash dog that might not have happened if the dog was taught to walk calmly. Thankfully my dogs all enjoy meeting new dogs and are very smooth with great social skills so they rarely have issues. I have had dogs in the past that didn’t like being approached by strange dogs, so I’m sensitive to those concerns.

Repeated polite calls to animal control can sometimes be helpful in bringing more enforcement. Sometimes it takes just the right person, timing, luck, or officer to make a difference. Many departments are understaffed and some ACOs have very little training. It’s important to try to work together rather than just berating the department for a lack of response. There are some uncaring ACOs out there, but most are doing the best they can with limited resources. In some cases, we cannot pursue an issue without written statements, but no one is willing to provide them.


J: Your work often brings you into contact with dogs that are terrified and/or injured, which manifests as aggression. How do you stay calm and safely work with dogs in those scenarios?

Shirley: Some of my most rewarding calls are dogs that are aggressing because of fear (or pain, or both), but respond well to cookies and sweet talk. Most aggression is fear based. The dog is afraid so he charges, or even attacks to make you go away.  I have spent my life working with dogs and I have learned something from every single one. I love dogs, and respect them and do everything I can to make things less stressful for them. Dogs are far more predicable than people in most cases. Patience, knowledge and cookies go a long way in this business. For those few dogs who can’t be convinced, I usually have the skills and tools to confine them safely and humanely.  Often once you have a hold of them and haven’t hurt them, they come around anyway.


J: Dog Bite Prevention Week is almost here, do you mind sharing any advice for how the public can avoid dog bites?

Shirley:  Here’s a link to a blog I did last year for Bark Magazine regarding dog bites. I investigate so many preventable dog bites each year and it’s unfortunate that dogs and children most often suffer the consequences of our lack of knowledge or understanding of canine behavior.


shirley after the raid


J: I think many animal welfare workers (myself included) really struggle with compassion fatigue and/or feeling overwhelmed. How do you keep from burning out?

Shirley: I have my days where I can hardly bear the sadness and hurt that people wreak on their fellow people and animals. Dealing with the broken and neglected day after day takes a toll on the heart. Still, I feel like I’m making a difference. The smallest success is so encouraging.

I had some young teen girls call recently about a bird with thread tangled around its leg and then tangled in tree branches. I had one of them hold the bird while I spent about 5 minutes unraveling the thread and then let her release it. It was so great to see how helpful and kind they were, and so rewarding to watch the bird fly away unencumbered. It’s critical in this business to focus on the positive.

I can go a long way on the good stuff: One good rescue, finding someone’s lost pet, removing an animal from a neglectful situation and finding a great home for it, those are the things that keep me going. I could (and sometimes do) torture myself with the ones I can’t help, but it doesn’t do any good and its harmful to me, so I try and focus on the areas where I can make a difference and work really hard on them. It’s helpful to have supportive friends and family. My husband of 22 years does a great job of helping me keep things in perspective and my kids, although pretty much grown, are terrific as well.

I get a lot of joy in fostering needy dogs (along with cats, wildlife and other animals). I’ve taken in dogs with health or behavior issues, moms with underage pups and orphaned pups. I stopped counting at 400 dog and puppy fosters over the last 25 years or so. In all but a very few cases, they have gone on to wonderful homes and lives. A few came back and were re-homed successfully and a very tiny number couldn’t be saved, but I get so much satisfaction from seeing them living the life they deserve.


Thank you Shirley!

Order your copy of the Secret Lives of Of Dog Catchers here and help Shirley reach her goal of selling 1,000 books. When she hits that goal, she’ll donate $500 to the Love Me Fix Me spay/neuter program.  

Shirley shared that several people have also pledged to donate to the program as soon as she reaches her goal, including an additional $1000 donation.  A good read and a good cause! Follow Shirley on Facebook to cheer her on as she reaches her goal.

Our Rights and Responsibilities: Dog Law Q+A with Attorney Heidi Meinzer

When it comes to providing the best care for our dogs, we consider many issues: nutrition, training, socialization…but what about our legal rights and responsibilities as dog owners? We should be thinking about these issues too.

The Whole Dog Journal’s recent interview with attorney Heidi Meinzer about dangerous dog laws is a good place to start. If you haven’t read it, you should. Paul Miller, an animal welfare professional is also interviewed and it’s great stuff.  Here’s the link. Go on. I’ll wait.

Good, right? Heidi and Paul’s answers provide information that every dog owner should know, such as how to be responsible dog owners, understanding dangerous dog laws, what to do if our dogs are deemed dangerous, and how to avoid coming into conflict with the law in the first place.

While reading the interview, I suspected Heidi might be a member of Team DINOS when she said,“…always take care when interacting with dogs and people wherever you are, including in your own home. If your dog shows any hesitation when meeting another dog or a person, do not force her to interact. Be your dog’s advocate and kindly tell the person that your dog needs space.”

It’s excellent advice, so I wrote Heidi to find out more and she does indeed share her life with a DINOS!  She was kind enough to agree to answer a few legal-based FAQs for us too.

law book

Here’s a little more about Heidi before we start the Q+A:

Licensed to practice in Washington, Virginia, Maryland, and D.C., Heidi specializes in animal law issues. In addition to her law practice, Heidi is a member of the APDT and an Assistant Dog Trainer with Fur-Get Me Not, as well as a board member for multiple animal welfare organizations.

It should be noted that in regards to dog laws, there is a lot of variation from state to state and even town to town. Heidi’s answers are a great jumping off point, but each one of us still needs to research this issue locally in order to be truly informed.

 

Q: Let’s get started with the basics. What are our legal responsibilities as dog owners?

Heidi: Dog owners have basic responsibilities regarding care that are governed by neglect and cruelty statutes (such as Virginia’s “adequate care” statute). And of course, other laws govern issues such as liability for dog bites.



Q: If someone has a dog with a known behavioral issue, is there anything they should be doing to protect themselves legally?

Heidi: Ensure the safety of your dog and the public.  For instance, if your dog has a history of aggression, you should ensure your dog is properly confined (e.g., proper fencing) and is properly equipped on walks (e.g., double leash with harness and collar).



Q: What about DINOS gear? Does wearing a “Keep Back: My Dog Needs Space” t-shirt make someone liable if an incident were to occur on a dog walk?

Heidi: It should not make you automatically liable. There is a chance that a potential plaintiff could argue that you had reason to know that your dog had certain propensities (like viciousness) — but many dogs just need space without having demonstrated vicious propensities.



Q: In the WDJ interview you gave some very helpful advice for dog owners who want to avoid or are facing a Dangerous Dog citation, which I encourage everyone to read. In general, if your dog does bite someone or another dog, what do you suggest they do?

Heidi: If your dog bites someone or another dog, first and foremost — stay calm!  If you can, take your dog to a safe place to let your dog calm down and reduce the risk of any other incidents.  When your hands are free and your dog is safely out of the area, offer assistance to the person or the dog.  Also, be prepared to share proof of your dog’s rabies vaccination.  If there is any way to take photos of the injury and the area where the incident occurred without offending the person, try to do so.

Expect to be contacted by your local animal control officers.  Again, you will need to share proof of your dog’s rabies vaccination.  You may want to consult an attorney about what other information you should share with animal control.  Your attorney can also advise you on what to do about liability issues, including whether to involve your insurance company.



Q: One of the biggest challenges for DINOS families are loose dogs. In order to avoid them, many of us are intentionally only walking in areas that have leash laws, but they’re often ignore or are not enforced.  Is there anything we can do to increase their effectiveness in our communities?leash law sign


Heidi:
If you see someone disobeying the leash laws, you need to work with your local animal control officers to report the issue.  If we don’t report, animal control won’t know about the issue and can’t take action!


Q: Many of us are calling to make reports, but we’re essentially being ignored or laughed off the phones by authorities who think leash laws are a waste of their time! Any thoughts on how we can effectively advocate for the enforcement of existing leash laws?

Heidi: If police or Animal Control Officers don’t want to enforce the leash laws, I would report it up the chain.  But who actually oversees ACOs varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so you have to do some research to make sure you’ve found the right source.  For instance, in Virginia, some ACO departments are supervised by the local police or deputy office, but others are supervised by the entity (often a nonprofit) that runs the local pound/shelter. You can also talk to the attorneys charged with prosecuting ACO cases — sometimes that will be the local prosecutors, and sometimes the local city or county attorneys.   Ultimately, you can work your way up to the county or city board.

In any event, try to make the ACOs’ job as easy as possible, by taking photos or video, gathering as much identifying information about the dog and person, keeping accurate records of when and where you see the dog off leash, and call the ACOs as soon as possible — while the dog is still off leash if at all possible.

If your jurisdiction does not have leash laws, alert your local legislators and educate them about the need for leash laws.

Note: you can find state dog leash laws here.



Q: Here are two generic scenarios that many of us have encountered. Any thoughts?

A dog on leash is approached by a loose dog and bites the loose dog. Who is legally responsible? And can a dog be declared dangerous when it was being properly managed by its owner at the time of the incident?

Heidi: If there is an applicable leash law, it is likely the owner of the loose dog would be liable.  Even with jurisdictions that have dangerous dog laws, typically protection is a defense, and animal control officers will likely consider that the loose dog approached and may not charge the leashed dog with dangerous dog proceedings if it attacked in that circumstance — especially if there is a leash law in that jurisdiction.


A person (with or without a dog) approaches a leashed dog. They are told to “stop!” and warned to stay back. If the other person ignores the warning and continues to approach, who is legally responsible if the leashed dog bites?

Heidi: It depends on the jurisdiction.  There are some jurisdictions with “strict liability” statutes — although many of those jurisdictions typically have defenses that may be applicable.  Also, the owner may be able assert other common law defenses such as “assumption of the risk” and contributory or comparative negligence.

 


Q: Let’s end on a happy note! Can you tell us about your dog, since she’s a DINOS too? What are some ways you set her up for success and advocate for her when you’re out in public?

Heidi: Sophie is a beautiful Shepherd mix who is very environmentally sensitive and can be reactive to dogs and people.  I initially used a Gentle Leader with her, but I didn’t do enough to desensitize her to it and she hated wearing it.  The last thing I wanted was to have her be uncomfortable and associate that with being out and about and seeing dogs and strangers.  So I now use a Freedom harness, which has a clip on the back and front, and I use two leashes — one clipped to the back of the harness, and one double clipped to the front and to her Martingale collar.  She also wears a red bandana.

I always take lots of high value treats with me any time I take Sophie anywhere, and I have done a lot of behavior modification exercises with her over the years.  I make sure to keep plenty of distance between me and other dogs.  I also make sure that I can see what is up ahead and that I turn corners ahead of her — otherwise, she is always on the lookout and could encounter something before I have a chance to see what is going on.  I don’t hesitate to let people know that she needs space, but I always stay calm and polite.


Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Heidi! 

You can score more insights from Heidi on her Companion Animal Law Blog.

Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only and intended to provide general information, not to provide legal advice. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Playing Tuba with My Dog and Other Stuff I Keep Meaning To Do

Hi! It’s been kind of quiet over here the past few weeks, huh?

I want to write, but I’ve been busy doing cool stuff: going to Austin, Texas and not so cool stuff: hanging out in airports for two days because a freak winter storm cancelled my connecting flight home and gross stuff: getting a cold.

I hate having my hermit-esque routine turned upside down, so it took me a while to get my act together. I’m back.

 

And now, here’s what I keep meaning to write about, in no particular order:

 

Fences: wood ones, metal ones, redundant ones, invisible ones, and ones with gates that fly open unexpectedly.

Leash Laws: enforcement, funding, and why there’s always a cop outside my house (hint: it has nothing to do with dogs).

Dog Nails: how much I hate to cut them, heaven-sent painkillers, and the trouble with posting photos of your dogs on the interwebz

Good Adoptions: stuff I learned from Birdie the Dog. About her adoption. Not about her new hobby: finding dead baby birds.

Relaxation Protocol: am I the only one that actually enjoys doing this? Judging by other blogs: yes, I am.

 

Plus much, much more!

I want to hang out with these two.

Also, I want to hang out with these two.

 

Now all I need to get this done is an extra day in my week and a butler to deal with the self-generating hair balls that take over my house every 36 hours. And one million dollars (just in case the Universe is taking requests today).

Stay tuned. I’m on this!

 

Be Responsible, Respectful, Safe: Ask First!

Can I get a drum roll up in here?

I’m so happy to present the brand new DINOS Public Service Announcement: Ask First!

Check out this retro-tastic poster from my favorite design geniuses over at Design Lab Creative Studios:

DINOS: Ask First Poster

Want one?

You can get the poster for free on Flickr. Just right click, hit “save as” to download, and print!

There are also translations (Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese) of the poster available on Flickr.

Or you can purchase quality prints of the poster, in various sizes, on Cafe Press.

As a companion piece, you can download and print this brand new Ask First handout

And just in case you want more…there are Ask First tees and stickers.

 


Ok, that’s the business end of things, but let’s get to the heart of the matter:

Why Ask First?

Because whenever you see a dog, you should always ask permission before you approach them.

Never assume it’s OK for you or your dog or your kid to approach a dog without asking first. I mean, you know what they say about assuming right? It’s the truth.

When you see a dog walking on leash, sitting in the waiting room at the vet’s office, walking next to his owner in a pet store, working as a service dog, or just about any where, you should ask before you let your dog greet them or you make a move to pet that dog.

Just ask first.

Ask First DINOS

It only takes a very brief moment and with just one question, “Can I/my dog/my kid say hello to your dog?” you’ll be respectful of others, responsible for your actions, and you’ll be safety first.

The nice thing about asking is that it’s something all of us can do at any time. All you need is your voice. It’s that simple.

This may seem silly  – it is common sense after all – but I think that we’re all overdue for a reminder. Most of us are teaching children to ask before they approach dogs, but the adults need a refresher course too. And we all need to recognize that this applies to dog-dog greetings as well.

Let’s help people form a new habit. If they’re reminded enough, perhaps more folks will remember to ask permission before they let their dogs or themselves run over to say “hi” to a dog. They’ll stop making assumptions and start making responsible choices.

I know it’s a long shot and it won’t reach the truly reckless dog owners out there,  but a friendly reminder can’t hurt right?

By the way, dogs don’t have to be a DINOS for this to idea to apply. Even dogs that are really social and able to meet others at any time deserve to be treated with respect. And all dog owners have a right to say “no thank you” for whatever reasons they choose.

It’s our right as dog owners to decide what’s best for our individual dogs and ourselves. Asking first allows all of us to make that choice.

In fact, this applies any time any of us are out in public with our dogs. Before you let your dog jump up to greet a child: Ask First. Before you let your dog pull his retractable leash over to a senior citizen: Ask First. Before you allow your dog to approach anyone unfamiliar (you never know who is afraid of dogs!): Ask First.

So why not Ask First and be responsible, respectful and safe around all dogs, all the time?

If you think the public could use a little refresher on this idea, please print out a poster and hang it in a vet’s office, a pet store, a school, an on-leash area, or any place where folks need a reminder to Ask First!

And if you do, snap a photo and share it with Team DINOS on Facebook!


p.s. Some people have asked why there aren’t any yellow ribbons in this poster. I chose to leave them out because the public needs to learn to control their dogs, obey leash laws, and ask first around ALL dogs, not just ones that might be wearing a ribbon!

It’s Not How They’re Raised, It’s How Dogs are Managed That Matters Most

How many times have you heard someone say about a dog, “It’s all how they’re raised”?  Probably a lot. If you own a pit bull dog, probably a lot more.

I hear pit bull advocates saying it all the time, as a way to defend our dogs. I hear other saying it as a flippant remark about dogs in general.  This phrase gets tossed around all the time, but no one seems to be aware of what they’re really saying….and how damaging it can be.

This saying does have a kernel of truth  in it, of course, but “how they’re raised” is just one of the factors that contributes to who our dogs are. It’s not the whole story. 

When people believe that “It’s All How They’re Raised”, there are some real-life consequences for the dogs. So we need to check ourselves. 

Here are a few ways our words hurt:

People refuse to adopt adult dogs. This idea, that how they’re raised determines who a dog is, makes adopting out adult and senior dogs a real challenge. Why would adopters take a chance on an adult dog, who has been raised by someone else, when they could adopt a puppy and raise it “right” themselves? Some folks really believe this. Seriously, shelter workers are constantly confronted by this way of thinking. It stinks.

Shelters won’t place victims of cruelty up for adoption. If a dog has survived an abusive or neglectful situation, such as dog fighting, animal hoarding, puppy mills, etc., then it is known they were “raised wrong”. Some organizations use this as proof that the dogs aren’t safe or fit to be adopted out.The same thing goes for dogs that are suspected of surviving these situations. If the assumption is made that a dog with cropped ears has been fought, that assumption of their past may wind up costing the dog his life if policies dictate that fight bust dogs are not adoptable because they were obviously “raised wrong.”

Responsible dog owners feel like failures. People who have raised their dogs since puppyhood beat themselves up when they’ve done everything right, but despite their very best efforts, their dogs still have behavioral issues. I hear from a lot of you through DINOS because you feel ashamed and guilty about your dog’s issues, despite having raised your dogs right. Let me just say it now: it’s not all how a dog is raised that matters. You guys have to stop beating yourselves up (even if you’re a dog trainer).

Here’s the reality – dogs are who they are due to many factors: training, breeding, socialization, management, genetics, and environment. All of these things influence who our dogs are.

A dog’s past is a chapter, but it’s never the whole story. Let me show you:

“Raised Wrong”

Some dogs, neglected and abused their entire lives, are well-adjusted, social dogs. Anyone who has worked in rescue has met countless dogs who were not raised in the best circumstances, but despite this lack of early socialization or care (or worse) they turn out to be safe, family dogs. Many of us share our homes with dogs that were raised in less than ideal conditions, but are still wonderful pets.

One example of this scenario are the dogs rescued from fight busts or hoarding situations. Despite terrible beginnings, many of these victims of cruelty are ready to leave the past behind and enjoy family life. They may need training and structure to get used to living with a family in a house (what dog doesn’t?), but some of them are able to adjust to family life with relative ease. Their past didn’t help them do this, you dig?

Meet Jagger, the handsomest dog on earth! Visit his Facebook page to meet this sweet boy.

Meet Jagger, the handsomest dog on earth! Visit his Facebook page to meet this sweet boy.

“Raised Right”

Some dogs, purchased from responsible breeders and socialized properly from puppyhood, still wind up with behavioral problems. Many responsible dog owners, who have raised their dogs since they were puppies and did everything right, still find themselves with dogs who have a variety of behavioral issues. These dogs were “raised right”, but are still struggling, sometimes due to genetics.

One example of this is illustrated in an article written by a dog trainer who shared her problems with her own dog. Despite her very best professional efforts to train and socialize him, aka raise him right, he has significant behavior issues which may be caused by a medical condition. It’s not how he was raised that’s causing the problem. Read it here.

Puppies. It's not just how you raise them.

Puppies. It’s not just how you raise them.

In both of these cases, the common denominator that is actually determining the success of these dogs as family pets and their safety in the community isn’t how the dogs were raised: it’s responsible management.

Whether they were raised “right” or raised “wrong” in the past, no matter what behavioral problems a dog does or doesn’t have, when owners recognize their dog’s individual needs and provide them the right care and management tools, dogs have a chance to succeed in our crazy world.

More Present, Less Past

So, it’s not “how they’re raised” (what happened in the past) but rather, “how they’re managed” (what’s happening in the present) that needs to be our focus, if our goal is to help our dogs and  also create safe communities for us all to enjoy.

We can look to their past for clues and guidance, of course. I don’t mean ignore it all together. But we do more for our dogs when we look at them right now, without the haze of a bad (or good) past fogging up our thoughts.  Who are they right now? What do they need to succeed today?

Whoever they are, dogs always exists and act in the context of human beings. They don’t live in a vacuum. They live with us. We need to recognize dogs as individuals, then determine what they need from us in order to succeed in the world.

What this means is that when dogs are properly managed by a human, a dog with or without behavior problems has the opportunity to be a safe, family dog. Dogs may need a variety of management tools, depending on what behavioral issues (if any) they have.  Beyond training, various management tools might include: space management (crates, gates, etc.), muzzles, leashes, fences, proper supervision, etc. I’d also include medication in this category, if it’s necessary. When these tools are used, owners are setting dogs up to be successful.

This also means that any dog that is not managed properly can be a nuisance to the community or a danger to others. We see this often in the case of dogs that are running loose in neighborhoods. The dogs may be friendly (or not), but by allowing them to roam the streets or chase other dogs, their owners are setting these dogs up to get into trouble. They are not managing them. They are setting them up to fail.

side note:  This is why I’m such a stickler for obeying leash laws. It’s a management tool.  I just wish the laws were enforced.

leash sign

 

I think that dogs are only as successful and safe as humans set them up to be – no matter what their past may be. When a dog gets in trouble or acts dangerously, somewhere along the line, a person has failed to make the right choice. But that’s not the same as “how they were raised”.

How they’re raised may be one factor that influences dogs, but it doesn’t determine the whole being of a dog. Perpetuating this idea only winds up hurting dogs with less than perfect pasts and shaming people who own dogs they’ve had since puppyhood.

The truth is that it’s how we currently manage dogs that determines how any dog interacts with the world. When we focus on managing them in the present, based on their individual needs, we can set dogs up for success despite what may have happened to them in the past.

So can we trash “its all how they’re raised” once and for all? It’s such a drag for dogs and their owners.

Let’s replace it with the truth:

It’s all how they’re managed. Dogs are only as successful as we set them up to be.

PDF version here: It’s Not How They’re Raised

Six Tips for Safer, Happier Dog Walking

It’s National Walk Your Dog Week and to celebrate, I got the chance to guest blog for a wonderful nonprofit called Found Animals Foundation.

The folks at FAF totally get DINOS. So they wanted to help spread the message that even though we’re all really excited about Walk Your Dog Week, we still need to remember to be respectful and responsible too.

I love it when the DINOS messages spreads to a new group of dog lovers!

If you’re looking for a polite way to talk to someone you know about their leash problems, my guest blog: Six Tips for Safer, Happier Dog Walking  is the perfect intervention.  Read it here now.

When you visit the FAF blog to read and share it, don’t forget to let FAF know you appreciate them spreading the DINOS message: DINOS are GOOD dogs, they just need space!

p.s. Need something polite and informative to give to strangers while you’re out dog walking? I got you. Check out my pocket-size handouts on Flickr and now available on Cafe Press.

Hello Off Leash Dogs. Meet My Friend Direct Stop.

(Download and print the pdf version of Hello Off Leash Dogs)

Ask anyone who walks DINOS: “What’s your worst fear?” and they’ll all tell you the same thing: Off Leash Dogs (OLDs).

When you’re out walking your DINOS and you spot a loose dog, with no owner in sight, it’s hard not to throw up, just a little, as you mentally run the list of ninja moves you might need to escape untouched.

With that in mind, I wanted to share some tips for dealing with OLDs. But just so we’re clear, nothing works 100% of the time.

The thing about off leash dog encounters is that they’re a little different every time and there are always a lot of variables in play. So what works once, doesn’t always work the next time. What’s safe to try with one dog, may not be safe with another. I know, because these tips don’t always work for me.

I’d be perfectly happy if someone invented a Pop-up Teflon Dog Walking Tent, so that I could lurch down the block with my DINOS, safely ensconced in our own personal fortress. But hey, sometimes these tips do work, so they’re worth storing in the old noggin.

Here they are, starting from the beginning:

INVEST in a wardrobe that has generous pockets or a little dog walking bag.

On every dog walk, you should take the following, in addition to poop bags:

High Value Treats

Cell Phone with Camera and Animal Control on Speed Dial

Direct Stop aka Spray Shield

+ One Bodyguard (it does help to have a second set of hands, just saying)


BE QUIET

There are a lot of loose dogs hanging out in their yards. The very first thing you can do to avoid a confrontation is to slip by unnoticed. I do this two ways:

Cross to the other side of the street, so I’m not directly in front of their property

 Tell my dogs to put a lid on it aka silence those tags


Tip for Leashed Dogs or Dogs Inside Houses: Being quiet helps, even if the dogs you’re passing are inside or on leash. I used to walk a reactive Olde English Bulldog that wore so many tags, collars, harnesses, gold chains, gongs, and sleigh bells that we alerted every dog in the whole of South Philly that we were coming. Not surprisingly, we had to walk a gauntlet of barking dogs and he struggled mightily to keep his cool. It was unnecessary work – we were bringing the dogs to us, when we really wanted them to go away.


ENGAGE YOUR DOG

Sometimes our DINOS are the ones attracting the attention with all that “debating” they like to do. So if you spot a dog before (or after) your DINOS does, be sure to engage your dog. Keep them focused on you, instead of staring or lunging at the other dog. Ask them to “look” at you. Talk to them in a happy, loose voice. Sing them a silly song with their name in it. Put a treat or toy in front of their nose. Do whatever you need to do to keep their attention on you, as you steer them past the dog hanging out in your neighbor’s yard, or while you do a u-turn (see below).  You can flash a “stop” hand signal at the other dog too, just to reinforce the message that you and your dog aren’t interested – thank you very much.


Tip for Fenced in Dogs: If you’re passing dogs that are contained and barking or running the length of the fence, try this: Cross the street to make space and say “Hi Guys!” in a loud and cheery, high-pitched voice. Sometimes that’s all it takes to shut them up and it tells your dog that things are ok.


LICK YOUR LIPS

You need to try to stay calm, if you want your dog to stay calm too, so do a body scan. Are you pulling the leash tight? Relax a little. Are you holding your breath? Lick your lips. You can’t really hold your breath and lick your lips at the same time. Talk in a happy tone. Let your dog know you’re cool.


WHEN A DOG IS FOLLOWING YOU:

In any situation you have to do two things – deal with your dog and the oncoming one.

This is really hard because these encounters typically happen in a matter of seconds, so even the best laid plans go out the window.

I won’t lie: I full on face-planted a few months ago when a total loser  lovely gal opened her front door, which opened right onto the street, and let her dog run out just as I was passing with a reactive dog. As the door opened, I was already moving to the other side of the street, to make some distance, and called “Get your dog NOW!”, but the dog was sprinting and caught up in a second. I tripped on my dog as I was trying to wrangle her and I fell. It happens. So I held on to the leash, as tight as I could while lying on my stomach, and my dog lost her marbles at the end of the leash. The other dog, stood, just an inch out of my dog’s reach, until the gal finally came to get her dog. I was glad I didn’t let go. I had a skinned knee, but neither dog got hurt and I have no doubt that had they made contact, that wouldn’t have been the case. Just wanted to share that even though my brain was telling me to do this stuff, I couldn’t make it happen that time, so I just wiped out and held tight!


FOR YOUR DOG: EMERGENCY U-TURN

Teach your dog to move quickly and calmly in the opposite direction, so that when you encounter a loose dog or a scary person, you can make a fast getaway. Teach them to do this on cue using a phrase and tone you’re most likely to use if you encounter this scenario.

Like “Uh-Oh! Let’s Go!” or “Holy Shit!” Whatever you think you’d actually say.

Here’s one way to teach them this trick and check out Feisty Fido for more, including Emergency Sit.


IF YOU CAN’T GET AWAY:


FOR YOUR DOG: BODY BLOCK

This means getting in between your dog and the oncoming OLDs. Ideally, you’ve taught your dog a great sit-stay, so that you can step directly in front of them to deal with the loose dog.


FOR THE LOOSE DOG: USE THE VOG

That’s the Voice of God aka what James Earl Jones sounds like.

Step in front of your dog and, using the VOG, say:

NO, SIT, or STOP and flash the universal hand signal for stop: a flat outstretched palm.

The goal here is to startle the crap out of the other dog, so you want to really BOOM! If you’ve got their attention, try telling them to STAY or GO HOME. Be fierce, stand tall, say it like you mean it.


WITH THE VOG OR IF THEY’RE STILL FOLLOWING YOU:


FOR THE LOOSE DOG: HURL TREATS

Take a handful of those high value treats you’ve got in your pocket and throw them right in the other dog’s face. The goal here is to startle them, then have them look around for the food, giving you enough time to get away. I’ve had a 50-50 success rate with this, so it’s worth a try, but I’ll be the first to admit, it doesn’t stop all dogs. Patricia McConnell did a test run you can watch here.


Or Toss Pea Gravel at their feet. If you’ve got room in your cargo pants for a hand full of pea gravel, it can be worth carrying some to startle oncoming dogs by throwing this at their feet.


Tip for On-Leash Dogs: Occasionally, I let a few treats slip out of my hand when someone is rapidly walking up behind me and my DINOS and I can’t get away or make space. I’ll just drop a few treats on the sly, so the dog coming up from behind takes a second to sniff around for the food, and I’ve got an extra minute to make some distance.

 


WHEN YOU ARE TRAPPED:


USE TOOLS

If your voice and treats don’t work and you can’t get away (and really, you only have a few seconds to make these calls, so you can just skip to this step, if you need to), this is when it’s handy to have another tool on you. If you frequently walk in a neighborhood plagued with off leash dogs that you anticipate fending off, it’s worth carrying one of the following:

Direct Stop

Umbrella (pop-up)

Airhorn

Shake can

Walking Stick

The idea would be to body block your dog, by standing in front of them, and then use any of the tools you have to stop the oncoming dog. Spray ‘em, pop the umbrella open in their face, throw the penny can at them, blast the air horn, block them with the stick.

I vote for Direct Stop, a citronella spray. It won’t harm the dog, if you have to spray them, so you’re not risking their health. Plus, if their owner is nearby, just the sight of the spray will likely get them motivated to grab their dog, since they don’t know it’s harmless. If you use it, spray the dog right in the muzzle.

I highly recommend practicing with these tools. I’ve heard from dog walkers who have had Direct Stop on them, but in the chaos of the interaction, their brains totally bailed and they couldn’t remember how to use the spray. To build confidence and a higher chance of success, practice unholstering and spraying. By repeating the movements when you’re at ease, you’ll build a muscle memory for that action, so that when panic takes over your brain your body will still remember what to do.


WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS:

Here’s what some people I know have done, to get their dogs away from OLDs:

Thrown them over a fence

Thrown them over their shoulders while kneeing/kicking the loose dog

Thrown them into the bed of random a pick-up truck

I’m just saying, it’s been done.

If the two dogs actually do connect, expect a lot of noise. Dogs sounds awful when they’re in a tussle, but it’s usually far worse sounding then it actually is. Try to stay calm (so hard), but if you’re alone, I do suggest calling for help. I’ve yelled loud enough to get neighbors to come out of houses and give me a hand. Having a second set of hands is worth screaming for.

If you have a helper, break up the fight by: making a loud noise, spraying the dog with your Direct Stop, or finding something to use as a physical barrier to smash/slide in between the dogs so that you can safely separate the dogs. Look for something big, like a trash can lid, a chair, a recycling bucket, anything large and nearby that you can wedge between the dogs. Grabbing collars is an invitation to get bit (your own dog is likely to swing their head around and redirect on you), but sometimes people do it anyway. If you do grab collars, you can try twisting them to cut off air supply briefly. Try holding the back legs instead. When you‘re able to separate the dogs, both parties need to move away from each other, preferably in a wide circle – not straight back – and do not let go of the dogs.

If you are all alone, I’m not going to lie. It’s really hard to break up a dog fight by yourself. I’ve never had to do this alone, but what I know for sure is that when you break up a dog fight, you need to make sure that after the dogs are separated, they don’t go right back at each other. One way to do this, if you are by yourself, is to tie one of the dogs to a fence or post or whatever is there, separate the dogs, and then do not let go of the one you’re holding. Move the dog as far away as you can. If there is any way to tie them up or enclose them (unlocked car anyone?), do it. Call for help, call 911.

I know that sounds super scary, but in all the years I’ve been dog walking and dealing with OLDs, I can say that things rarely get this far (not that they don’t – they do), but for the most part, dogs chase you away from their property or chase after you to play or try to start a little bit of trouble that you can stop with one of those tools.

No matter what happens, it’s best to think about these things before they occur. Have a plan in place. Know the hot spots in your neighborhood with OLDs and avoid them, even if you have to take a less convenient route. Walk at off hours. Bring a friend, so you always have a second set of hands. Drive your dogs to a safe spot to walk them. If your dog is aggressive, use a muzzle,  so you don’t have to worry about them hurting a friendly off leash dog that gets in their face.


TO RECAP:

Give all dogs space by moving away from their property

Engage your dog – keep them focused on you and quiet enough not to attract unwanted attention

If you see a loose dog, try doing an Emergency U-turn and scoot out of there

If you’re stuck, Body Block your dog, step forward and use the VOG

If the dog keeps coming and you feel like there’s no escape, spray them with Direct Stop, blow your air horn, use your tools.

If contact is made, spray the dog or use whatever large object you have access to (from a stick to trash can lid) to slide in between dogs.

Separate dogs and do not let go. Call for help.

Go home and have a beer.

If just reading this exhausts you (sorry it’s so long), I want you to know that it’s ok to exercise your dogs at home, in your yard, or whatever it takes to keep them safe and happy. I want you guys to be as stress free as possible and for your dogs to enjoy life. Some days, that might mean skipping the walk.


Download and print the pdf version of: Hello Off Leash Dogs

I know you guys have thoughts and tips to share on this subject. Please do! We can all learn from each other here at Team DINOS, so if you have a trick, I want to know about it!

DINOS™: A Manifesto

It is our position that DINOS (Dogs in Need of Space)™ are good dogs with the right to enjoy walks in public without the harassment of other dogs and their people.

Therefore we demand the following from our fellow dog lovers:

  1. Obey Leash Laws: Outside of a dog park, or otherwise sanctioned off-leash area, you must leash your dogs. This is not our opinion, it’s the LAW.
  1. Ask Permission Before Approaching: Stop moving and ask, “Is your dog friendly?” or “Can my dog say hi?”
  1. Listen to our Response: Give us time to respond. And no means no.
  1. Respect Our Space: If we move to the side, so that you can pass, do not let your dog approach us. Please shorten their leash and continue walking. It’s not rude, promise.
  1. Do Not Give Chase: If we abruptly turn the other way or cross the street, we do not want to interact with you or your dogs. Yes, we saw you.  No we don’t want to say “hi”.
  1. Lock your Leashes: If you walk your dog on a retractable leash (aka a Flexi Lead), please retract and lock your leash, so that we may pass by without engaging with your dog. Better yet, skip the retractable and use a flat leash. Retractable leashes break.
  1. Zip it: Keep your judgments and nasty comments to yourself. One day, due to illness, trauma, or other circumstances, you too may find yourself the loving owner of a DINOS. Until you walk a (paranoid) mile in our shoes, we implore you: If you don’t have anything nice to say, just keep on walking.
  1. No Matter How Nice You Are, the Rules Still Apply: You may think that because you and your dogs are really nice and very dog savvy, that it’s ok for you to break these rules. Look, we believe you. You seem really nice and so does your dog. We wish we could meet you under other circumstances, but trust us, we know our dogs better than you do. We reserve the right not to interact with you, no matter how nice you are.

In return, the DINOS pledge to uphold the following standards:

  1. We will always leash our DINOS when out in public.
  2. We will muzzle our DINOS, if necessary.
  3. When it is possible, we will always create distance between your dog and our  DINOS, so that you too can pass us without incident.
  4. We will tell you our dogs are DINOS. No mind reading necessary.

Subsection 4A: Don’t Deny Your Dog is a DINOS.

DINOS Deniers are wide-spread. They refuse to believe that their dog is one of the following: inappropriate, rude, or aggressive.  They fool unsuspecting dog owners by saying their dogs are friendly, but in reality they are not. Typically, after an incident occurs, they admit it has happened before, as in: “I don’t know why, but my dog almost always bites when he’s at the dog park.” Stop denying the truth.  You have a DINOS and you owe it to your dog and everyone else’s dog to create safe interactions. If you own DINOS, you must be responsible for understanding your dogs.

DINOS, The Time to Take Back Our Space is Now!

DINOS Unite!

printer friendly pdf: DINOS Manifesto

Looking for a Kinder, Gentler Manifesto? If you’re a shelter, trainer, or just a really nice person, check out this less snarky version, with printable pdf!

photo credit: Ginger Monteleone Photography

Who’s who?

DINOS: Dogs in Need of Space™

MDIF: My Dog is Friendly™

OLDS: Off Leash Dogs™

ROARS: Rovers on a Retractables™

http://notesfromadogwalker.com

DINOS © Copyright Jessica Dolce 2012

DINOS Dogs In Need of Space© Copyright Jessica Dolce 2012

My Dog is Friendly! A Public Service Announcement

There is epidemic happening across the country and no one is safe.  It’s occurring on crowded city sidewalks and spacious country walking trails. It doesn’t discriminate based on race, age, or economic status.

Innocent dogs and their owners are being terrorized, chased down the street, pinned into corners by…other dog owners.

But, you ask, don’t all dogs like to meet, greet, and play with other dogs, even unfamiliar ones? How rude of them not to greet me and my dog!  Not so, kindhearted dog lovers, not so at all.

In every city, town, and suburb, loving, law abiding families share their lives with dogs that, for a variety of reasons, cannot or would rather not, socialize with other dogs.

Today I call on all dog lovers to take a stand on behalf of dogs that walk in public while they simultaneously cope with one or more of the following:

  • contagious diseases
  • leash reactivity
  • service or working dogs
  • injuries and painful physical conditions
  • intolerance of other animals
  • recovery from surgery
  • fearful of unfamiliar or rowdy dogs
  • aging and el
  • derly
  • learning self control around other dogs
  • are owned by people that want to be left alone

To keep it simple, these dogs and their owners shall be known as Dogs in Need of Space (DINOS)™

These DINOS have every right to walk the streets, using a standard 4-6 foot leash, without interacting with strangers, human or canine.

And yet…they are hounded, day after day, by cheery, well meaning dog owners who insist on meeting them.

Despite frantic efforts to cross the street or hiding between parked cars, DINOS are chased down by other people walking dogs, who refuse to believe that there is someone out there that does not want to meet them.

How do you spot these terrorists? You can recognize these people by their battle cry, “My dog is friendly!”

Henceforth known as My Dog is Friendly (MDIF).

Pick any corner of any town in America and you’re likely to see a scene similar to this one:

A DINOS is working on his manners, let’s say it’s leash reactivity. He has some issues with strange dogs, but is in training so that he can learn to stay calm in their presence. The DINOS owner spots another dog coming and, like their trainer instructed them, they create some distance and do a sit-stay with eye contact. The goal: to keep cool while the other dog passes.

But they didn’t realize they were being stalked by an eager MDIF.

Look! There’s they are now, crossing the street, speed walking in a beeline right towards the seated DINOS, their own dog straining at the collar.

The DINOS owner steps further away, trying again to create distance. Any anthropologist (or kindergartner) can read the clear body language in play from the DINOS team.  Observe: no eye contact or smiling, they are facing away from MDIF, glancing frantically around, looking for an escape.

MDIF is impervious to body language and insists on coming closer.

The  signals from the DINOS owner become escalated, and like a dog losing its patience with a rude puppy, the DINOS owner issues a quiet, but firm warning, “My dog doesn’t like other dogs.”

Unable to understand their native language, MDIF continues their advances until DINOS is trapped and begins to lose his ability to stay cool. See: lunging and barking, coupled with awkward struggles to get away.  Now, like a dog that’s being humped relentlessly by a teenage dog with no manners, the DINOS owner snaps, so the message is clear, “Stop! Don’t come any closer!”

And, without fail, MDIF calls out their cheerful battle cry, “My dog is friendly!” Their plea is received by the back of the DINOS team as they jog away.

Then, with a hurt look, the MDIF mutters, “What’s your dog’s problem?”

The DINOS owner, shaken, wonders why they are working so hard on improving their dog’s manners when the humans around them have the social skills of, well, a dog with no social skills.

A brief interlude from the author:

Quickly, let’s turn to the similar epidemic of off leash dogs that are not under voice control. It’s the law: Put your dog on a leash. No one but ME gets to decide who my dog interacts with. Not you, with the “friendly” dog who just wants to say “hi” or you, with the dog who “knows” not to leave your property, but charges me up my porch steps. I, and I alone, will decide if my dog will be interacting with your dog and when you let your dog run loose you are ROBBING ME of my right to choose whether or not we want to interact with your dog. Not cool.

And now back to our Public Service Announcement:

Dogs In Need Of Space are good dogs. They may not want to socialize with your dog, but they have the right to walk with their owners, on leash, without harassment from strangers who insist on a forced greeting. Their owners do not want to cause a scene or yell, in a panic, at strangers. They don’t want their dog to act inappropriately, get injured, backslide on their training, or frighten anyone. Please, dog lovers of the world, allow these dogs and their people some space and, if they are walking or turning away from you, keep your dog close by and pass them without comment.

All they want is to walk their dogs in peace, without having to hide under a park bench in order to escape the relentless pursuit of dogs owners calling out…

 “My dog is friendly!” 

 



If your dogs are DINOS,  join the movement on Facebook!

You can also:

Take the online class!

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DINOS™ and DINOS: Dogs In Need of Space™

Copyright Jessica Dolce 2017

Wishing you safe, happy walking!

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