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Pet Walking Safety Made Simple

Why do so many people take their pets safety for granted?  Lately, while walking my own dogs, I have come across a number of unleashed dogs.  Not only was one of these dogs acting aggressively but he ran directly across the street in the dark!  That was unsafe for both of my dogs, as well as him. He had apparently been on a leash but his walker had stated she thought she had been  standing on the leash.  I’m not sure what she was doing but whatever it was, it was not keeping anyone safe. One of my dogs ended up with some injuries from the encounter, thankfully not serious ones. But all three of us were shaken up.

The second encounter was less aggressive, however it was still stressful for all three of us.  I had to drop the packages that I was carrying in order to try and scoop my two little dogs up.  I have a chihuahua and he tends to go into protective mode (it is instinct for a Chi). He is very well behaved until a dog comes charging at at us and he feels threatened because he’s on a leash.

People give the excuse that their dog is harmless and very well behaved,  however, it is not safe for anyone and you’re not doing them a favor by letting them roam free.  The girl who thought she was standing on the leash of her German Shepherd called out “Oh he wont hurt you!”  I called back “I dont know that!”  All I knew was, it was dark, and a large dog was barking and running towards my two little dogs, who equal about 20 lbs put together.

Pets who are allowed to either roam off leash, or who are not leashed or fenced properly are an accident or catastrophe waiting to happen.  The dog who roams free can easily be injured or killed by a car, have a run in with a more aggressive dog or wild animal, and depending on the breed, is also a danger to leashed pets as well as children who might be outside.  A gentle dog might not be so gentle if a small child grabs their ears, fur or tail and pull it, in a seemingly playful way.  Many dogs will nip or bite in response, even if they are gentle, in normal situations.  Animals are driven by instincts and many times we forget this.

If you love your dogs, please keep them safe on a leash or in a safely fenced yard.  Love them by protecting them and others they may run into.  Being a pet owner is a responsibility.  Your dogs depends on you to guide it and keep it safe.  Making a point that you have a good dog and so he or she can run free, is not doing them a favor.  Between other animals, children, cars and animal control, you are sending your beloved pet into a hazardous danger zone!

Some important and very simple tips to keep your pet safe:

1.  If you are taking them out of their house or fenced yard, always use a leash. The leash should be strong enough for the dog, and a length that you can control him and keep him in a safety zone around you at all times. Always have a firm grip on the leash. Doing things such as holding it down with your foot while doing something else, allows the dog to see something and suddenly pull away from you, as demonstrated by the German Shepherd mentioned above.

2.  If they spend time in a yard, make sure the fence is sturdy, has no holes and is high enough that they cannot climb or jump. Rocky, my Chi, can jump a good three feet straight up from a standing position. So even a small dog might need a higher fence to stay safe.

3.  Do not go right up to other people with dogs, so that your dogs can meet. Ask first. It’s horrible being confronted with someone and their dogs suddenly and right in your face. Especially if your dogs are prone to be excitable. Simply ask first if you can approach with your dog or dogs.  Then respect the answer of the other person.

4.  Don’t let your dogs jump on, or block passersby. Not everyone is a great dog lover like you and I!

5.  Don’t allow your dog to bark excessively. This applies both during a walk, as well as at home. Excessive barking is stressful on a dog, and can actually lead to a heart attack. It puts a lot of stress on the dogs heart and respiratory system if it is allowed to bark and bark. Some barking is normal and healthy, but excessive continuous barking isn’t healthy for your dog, nor is it respectful of the neighbors.

6.  Don’t allow your dog to eat things along the way. Keep an eye on your dog. Many dogs like to pick up acorns and bits from trees. Some items can be poisonous and at any rate none of them are healthy for the dog to ingest.

7.  Make sure your dog gets plenty of water before and after a walk. If the walk is long or the weather is very hot, bring some fresh water with you, and a container for the dog to drink out of. Many stores sell collapsible bowls which are easy to bring along. Watch your dog for any signs of lethargy and excessive panting. Breeds with short snouts will heat up even faster, because they don’t breathe as well in hot weather.  Never push your dog, they have different limits than we do.

Bottom line, use your common sense.  Keeping your pet safe while walking is simple.  Think before you do things.  Keep an eye on what is going on, both with your pet and your surrounding area.  Loose dogs can come out of nowhere (as I discovered twice this week!).  You can buy a special type of spray repellent that you can carry if an aggressive dog should approach you and your pet.  If something doesn’t seem completely safe while walking your dog, it probably isn’t. Don’t risk your pets safety.  To love them is to keep them safe at all costs!

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