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We recently had a small dog in the hospital that had been attacked by a much larger dog. Sadly this is not that uncommon of a case for us to see, especially as the weather warms and more people are out with their dogs. There are some things you should keep in mind to help protect your dog and yourself when out on a walk.
· Always make sure your dog is on a leash. Even the best trained dog can become distracted. Also if your dog is not overjoyed to meet strangers or other dogs, it would be best to avoid using a Flexi type of leash. You’ll have much better control with a regular 4’ to 6’ lead.
· Not all dogs are friendly. This seems obvious, but a lot of people you may encounter when out walking your pet seem to be unaware of it. If someone is approaching you who is also walking a dog, you may want to cross to the other side of the street, or change direction to avoid them. This is especially true if you know your dog is not friendly with other dogs. If you know your dog is likely to bark and growl at a strange dog, possibly provoking an aggressive response from that dog, then do your best to avoid getting too close. It’s not that uncommon for someone approaching you to say “oh don’t worry, my dog likes other dogs”. They may not realize that not every dog feels that way. It’s better to avoid putting your dog in what you know will be a bad situation, even if it involves being slightly rude to someone to tell them to keep their dog away from yours. Keep this in mind too if you have a very friendly dog. The other dog approaching you may not want to say hello, if their owner avoids you, don’t take it personally.
· Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re walking your dog, you may want to leave the headphones and mp3 player at home, so you can pay more attention while out on your walk.
· Be aware of what dogs live in your neighborhood. If you know there’s a dog that barks and growls at you while you walk by his fenced yard, you may want to avoid going by there, or cross the street before you get there. It’s especially important to know if there are any dogs that are routinely let out untethered in an unfenced yard. Not only can these dogs be a potential hazard for you and your pet, they can also endanger themselves. If a dog is routinely running loose, it is probably wisest to report it to the local dog warden.
· If you have a very small dog, consider walking them on a harness. In an emergency situation, where another dog comes out so fast you don’t have time to pick your dog up, you can use your leash to lift the dog by his harness up into your arms.
· You may want to consider carrying a product such as Direct Stop™ or a small air horn which can be used to deter a loose dog from approaching.
Most walks will be an enjoyable experience and good exercise for both you and your dog. It doesn’t hurt though to plan ahead to help prevent winding up in a bad situation.