Recently a well-loved wild seal was killed by a loose dog on the Thames estuary.
The dog’s guardian says she was devastated but didn’t see any reason to put her dog on the lead before they attacked the seal. Much as we love our dogs, it’s always really important to expect them to be dogs, and if in any doubt at all put the on the lead. Particularly in situations like the ones below.
When There’s Someone Vulnerable In The Area And Your Dog Has No Brakes.
I spoke to a lady once who had both her legs broken by a stranger’s loose dog that ran into her. The dog was undoubtedly “friendly” but still managed to put the lady in hospital for weeks and leave her with long term health problems. It’s not really good enough to assume our dogs won’t do any damage, especially if they are over enthusiastic in greeting people. If in any doubt – put your dog on the lead and let other people walk in peace and safety.
When Wildlife Don’t Have 100% Chance of Escape
Catching wildlife is not in every dog’s repertoire but it is in the repertoire of some. And we must not only ensure our dogs have a nice walk but remember we are also invading someone’s home. If your dog is fast and catches squirrels or rabbits, it’s a bit mean not to put them on the lead when you’re walking in the areas where the squirrels and rabbits live. Everyone has a right to life after all. Remember too, that dogs were once predators, so even if you don't see it coming they might get an instinct to grab.
When There Are Other Dogs Who Need Space And Your Dog Doesn’t Respect That.
Dogs kept on leads or close to their human are usually in that situation for a reason. They might not like other dogs, or they might be frail or poorly. Some dogs are really fearful of other dogs and need their space respected for their own wellbeing. Generally, dogs who fear other dogs can cope at a safe distance and learn there is no threat. Yet a dog racing up to them uninvited can cause big issues and leave them stressed for days.
When There Are Farmed Animals Nearby.
Farmed animals generally have enough to deal with, the last thing they need is an unruly or potentially dangerous dog chasing them around. Farmers can shoot pet dogs who are worrying farmed animals, and let’s face it even if we don’t like animals being farmed at all – we do have an ethical responsibility not to make their lives worse.
When You Can’t Be Sure Your Dog Will Come Back
This is really the main point for all of the above. We never know what might happen in an area at any point, so unless you have complete 120% control over your dog at all times when they are off the lead, ask yourself – should they really be off the lead at all? It’s not really up to other people’s dogs to entertain ours. It’s not kind to scare people, animals and dogs just because you happen to be in the same area as them and want to let your dog have a run.
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