Tom Kandt | Posted: Sunday, April 11, 2010 12:02 am
An abundance of telltale signs signal the wonderful advance of spring. We probably all have our favorites. One sure sign for me is the increasing number of dogs out and about the city.
I truly love seeing dogs outside getting exercise and stimulation after a long winter. It’s what the dogs and owners sometimes do or don’t do that can turn a delightful spring walk into a stressful or unpleasant event.
Here are a few of my spring peeves and possible solutions for owners and dogs:
– Too much stray dog poop where it doesn’t belong. Poop bags are provided at some trail heads and other places in the city. Owners: if you are caught out without a poop bag, please return with one later and do your duty. Please clean up after your dogs no matter where they go.
– Getting ambushed by a dog in a parked car. Inside a parked car or truck with tinted windows may lurk a dog you cannot see that literally goes crazy barking and banging against the car when you pass closely with your dogs on leash. This can be a shock to the nervous systems of both dogs and owners. It’s also not good for the ambushing dog. Owners: don’t leave your dogs in parked cars if they freak out at passing dogs and people. Hire a trainer to help you modify the behavior
– Aggressive barking from dogs riding in the back of pickup trucks. This is a safety issue and it’s also a matter of courtesy if your dog barks at other dogs and humans out walking. Owners: have your dogs safely restrained if riding in the truck bed and keep them in the cab if they go overboard expressing their excitement or anger at pedestrians and other dogs.
– Dogs going ballistic from behind a fence. Ear-splitting artillery barks and aggressive behavior at passing people out for a stroll can spoil a pleasant walk. Many times owners do or say nothing to the barking dog. Owners: put a visual barrier on the fence that blocks the dog’s view, intervene and bring the dog inside, or train the dog not to bark. Consider hiring a trainer for help. This canine behavior may also disturb neighbors.
– Off-leash dogs running up and bothering leashed dogs in a natural park. Helena’s leash law requires an owner to have immediate voice control over his dogs in any natural park such as Mount Helena, Mount Ascension Park or Davis Gulch. It’s traumatic for leashed dogs to get jumped by off-leashed dogs with poor dog-dog social skills and a rude approach. Owners: leash up your dogs if you can’t call them back or stop them immediately.
– Assuming other owners want their dogs to greet your dogs. Some dogs are very reactive on leash and their owners may not want them to greet your off-leash dogs. Owners: ask the other dog owner if the dogs can greet, whether you’re in city limits or hiking in a natural park.
– Failure to apologize. Owners: a sincere apology can go a long way in eliminating anger if your dogs rudely do any of the above.
I truly hope we can work together to keep outdoor activities with our dogs more pleasant. I would love to hear if you have additional annoyances you want to share, or you disagree with mine.
In the meantime, enjoy the spring.
Tom Kandt is shelter trainer and behavioral consultant at the LCHS. He is a certified professional dog trainer and graduate of the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers. Reach him at email@example.com.