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  • Be AWARE

A New Year's Resolution for dog owners

It is possible that you own the most friendly, well behaved dog on the planet. Perhaps you’ve even won multiple blue ribbons for your dog’s impeccable obedience. Others frequently comment on how awesome your dog is and you just know that your dog LOVES other dogs and every person they meet. But regardless of all that, here’s what you should do when you encounter others in public spaces:

Keep your dog near you and put a leash on your dog.

For the sake of making sure you read that correctly, let’s put it in big bold letters.

When you encounter others in a public space, PUT A LEASH ON YOUR DOG.

In all likelihood this concept makes perfect sense when walking a dog along a busy street or winding through a crowded public square. But...if you’re thinking it doesn’t apply when at the park or hiking on a trail, you’re wrong.

The obvious exception to this would be a municipality dog park which is designed for intentional, off leash, dog to dog interaction. In dog parks everyone present knows what to expect.

So whether you’re in the woods or enjoying wide open green space with your dog, if you’re going to pass near enough to someone that you’d be able to casually nod hello to them…clip a leash on the dog as you pass by.

Clip the leash on regardless if your dog is super friendly, or his behavior is perfect. What you need to understand is the mere presence of a dog has an impact on those in the area.

Certainly lots of people really enjoy dogs, but not everyone does. Some people are actually terrified.

And certainly lots of dogs are social and easy going, but not all of them are. Some are actually dog aggressive and many are selective about which dogs they want to interact with. To allow your dog to rush in to “just say hi”…well, at best it is rude behavior but it can also be potentially dangerous and lead to a dog fight.

If the idea of always putting a leash on when you encounter others in public spaces still doesn’t quite make sense…imagine this scenario.

You’re out for a walk. Up ahead you see someone coming toward you. They have their pet python with them. It's moving along, seemingly minding its own business, but then, the python looks up from it’s slithering and notices you. It starts to move right toward you..… The owner has a big smile on his face and yells out, “It’s okay, he’s friendly!”

Are you reassured by hearing this is a friendly python? Are you comfortable walking past this pet owner even if he tells his python to "leave it" or "stay"? If you happen to be a snake lover, try the vision with a tarantula, an alligator or maybe a pet tiger.

Regardless of the species you envisioned in that situation, can you understand how you might prefer to see it physically restrained in some way?

You see, these situations are not about you as the owner of the dog. They are about the other person. It is a PUBLIC space and politely sharing public areas should become the norm.

One person feeling more entitled than the next needs to stop.

As we enter a New Year, let’s do better.

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