Dog Walking Etiquette

Are "dog on dog" attacks more common than they used to be? These incidents are being reported more frequently by the media in recent years. Whether this is because the attacks are more regular, or there are more pets and therefore more attacks, or they are being reported when they weren't being previously, these incidents are worrying.

One part of this problem behaviour is that dogs aren't well socialised. They don't roam freely and therefore don't come into contact with other dogs very often. So when they do, a dog's behaviour can change and they may react nervously or aggressively, even when on lead. Now obviously we're not calling for dogs to be allowed to freely roam the streets of South Australia as this would result in a whole lot of other problems, but it's important we recognise the effect that changing a dog's environment has on it's ability to interact with other dogs.

Dog's learn many of their life lessons in the first 18 weeks of life. It's key that your puppy has contact with as many people, dogs and any other pets as possible during this time. If your pup doesn't meet anyone except it's immediate family until it's 6 months old, or isn't taken out walking or to dog parks then it's going to have real problems socialising later in life and will require lots of extra training.

Here is a list of rules to help reduce dog altercations:

  1. Socialise your dog early (8-16 weeks old) and frequently with lots of positive rewards.
  2. Teach your dog when walking on a lead to sit and watch you whenever another dog approaches. This is not only good manners, but it will save your shoulder and elbow from a jumping dog and makes your dog less threatening to other dogs.
  3. As well as following posted council bylaws, only walk your dog off lead in designated off lead areas. When someone has a dog that is not good with other dogs they generally don’t take them anywhere that dogs are allowed off lead, but if you’re not following the rules and your well-meaning pooch runs up to an on lead dog, it can cause conflict that would have otherwise been completely avoidable.
  4. If your dog doesn't tend to get along with other dogs, walk it with a bright orange lead that says "not friendly" on it. This lets other dog walkers know not to approach.

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