At least once a week, Cody and I go for a long morning run. We often do more, but sometimes Cody is just too tired, so I leave him at home. Anyway, this morning, like every other week, we headed out for our run. The plan was 7.5 miles (a 12k in honor of 12-12-12). Usually, Cody and I drive into the city and meet up with a friend, but this time we were on our own, so we left from the house and ran 2.5 miles to a local park, ran through the park, and then ran home. One thing that I found a bit shocking was how many dogs were off-leash once we entered the park.
Now, I'm the first person to condone having dogs off leash. I think dogs need the opportunity to act like dogs. They need to have the chance to run and sniff and pee on bushes, and I'll admit I had Cody off leash and out of a heel for a portion of the run through the park. What I don't condone is having ZERO control over your dog. If your dog cannot allow another dog and jogger to pass without chasing it, don't allow it off leash. If your dog won't come when called, no matter what the circumstance, don't allow it off leash. If your dog has ANY sort of aggressive tendencies towards people or other dogs, DON'T ALLOW IT OFF LEASH!!
The reason I'm so upset about this issue this morning is because this is not the first time this has happened. Just last Saturday I had to stop 3 times in that park because a dog was charging up to me while its owner hollered for it to come back. I was lucky that all the dogs were friendly, and the owners were lucky that I'm not scared of dogs at all (in fact I kind of enjoy having them run around me), but most people aren't like me.
Too many people are scared of dogs. Too many people have dogs that aren't dog friendly. Too many people are just annoyed at having to stop mid-run because they're being chased by an overly friendly dog! It's not fair that dog owners think it's OK to let their dogs do whatever they want just because they're dogs are friendly.
What if Cody weren't dog friendly? What if the multiple dogs that approached us today had sent him over the edge? Would Cody be held liable for attacking a dog, or would the dog that approached uninvited be at fault?
Anyway, I'll say it again. If you can't control your dog, please don't let him off leash. That said, if you want to learn some great off-leash control, give me a call. I'm more than happy to help. Cody did wonderfully this morning, and he kept his focus on me even when he was approached by multiple dogs. I'm very proud of my boy, and I'm glad that he's able to handle such big distractions. I just worry about other people and other dogs who might not handle such big distractions so well. Please keep that in mind the next time you take your dog(s) out. Thanks!