Well-meaning owners of friendly dogs sometimes don’t understand that their pets outgoing nature can be a scary experience for less confident dogs and people. It is a lovely sight to see two off lead dogs meeting and playing with each other. It is great for socialisation and for exercise. What is even better is when the owners can call their dog back reliably, both before, during and after a play session.
Owners may choose to keep their dog on lead for a variety of reasons. It could be that their own dog doesn’t have good recall. The dog may be aggressive or nervous. Or it could be their dog has a health issue. Whatever the reason, an off-lead dog shouldn’t approach an on-lead dog uninvited. If you would like your dog to play it is polite, and in some cases safer, to ask the owner if they are happy to have your dog come and say hello.
We have a nervous rescue dog who we don’t let off the lead around other dogs, his reaction to a dog bouncing up to him is to growl and bark. Whilst an owner may reassure us that “It’s ok, my dog is friendly”, my own dog is not friendly. It causes him and me stress when a dog comes too close. Too often the other owner does not recognise the problem and call the dog away because they believe their dog is good. This can be frustrating and dangerous.
A dog may be friendly with other friendly dogs, but when growled at they can react negatively. We have had instances where an owner is shouting over to insist their dog is fine, all the while their dog is growling at us because my dog growled first. When the owner is half a field away it is very difficult to diffuse the situation, and this is where good recall should come into play. No matter how friendly a dog is if you can’t get them back with reliable recall they shouldn’t be off the lead around dogs who are on lead. A friendly dog does not always equal a well-behaved dog.
Yellow Dog UK is a project designed to make owners aware that sometimes dogs need space. Owners of these dogs are encouraged to tie a yellow ribbon around the lead to indicate that they don’t want dogs or people to come too close.
“We support that it is imperative to socialise dogs for their well-being and development but also recognise that there are times and circumstances when a dog needs space and this is a way of making other dog owners aware of this. We hope that the campaign will encourage dog owners to recall their dogs when they see a dog wearing a yellow ribbon, giving that dog and its owner time to move out of your way”
Yellow Dog UK
It is becoming far too common for dogs to be injured or killed whilst out walking because an owner lets an out of control dog off the lead. It is so important to know your own dog’s limits. It is every owner’s responsibility to make sure that their own dog is safe, as well as all the animals and people that their dog encounters. Even if your dog would not physically hurt another animal or person, it can easily cause undue stress and fear in both dogs and people who have a phobia of dogs. The act of putting your dog on a lead could improve someone else’s walk significantly. To be respectful of everyone’s right to space is a small kindness we can and should show to one another.