"It starts with the dreaded "DON'T WORRY HE'S FRIENDLY" as a barrel of a dog radiating tense body language comes hurdling over to my dog. I stop dead, and try in the next 3 seconds I have to calmly ask my dog to focus on me and ignore the steam train of a dog coming towards us. My on lead dog, who has just had an operation is on restricted exercise, is in slight pain from starting physio doesn't want this brute in his space and sends a warning message which is ignored by Mr Ignorant's dog and suddenly a retaliation ensues and my dog is forced to defend itself. *Sigh* This is just one of many scenarios as to why so many dogs become reactive and fearful."
The problem with allowing dogs to run up to other dogs isn't just that lack of etiquette involved but that more serious matter of does your dog have recall? Lack of recall can cause serious injury to your dog, wild life, farm stock and people.
The Countryside Code states: "On Open Access land and at the coast, you must put your dog on a lead around livestock. Between 1 March and 31 July, you must have your dog on a lead on Open Access land, even if there is no livestock on the land. These are legal requirements." The lead must be no more than 2 meters. The maximum fine for a dog owner is up to £1,000.
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Dog's should only be off lead if they have a guaranteed and reliable recall. This means as soon as you call your dog to come back to you, they immediately return to you without hesitation.
How To Train Recall:
Training recall can be fun for you and your dog and can strengthen the bond you have together.
Before training, you will need a long line lead, a large secure area and your dogs favourite treats or motivation (praise or toy).
Choose a quiet area away from distractions, you can rent dog fields so you can ensure your free from distractions of people and other dogs. Put your dog on a short lead, call their name and give them their preferred reward and plenty of praise as soon as they come to you. (You could also use a whistle, clicker or any other sound that your dog can learn to associate with the word ‘come’ and with treats from you.) Practise this step regularly, daily if you can, on every walk – for at least four to six weeks, while gradually lengthening their lead and using a long line of up to 30ft.
If your dog already returns to you every time over short distances, take them to a more open space such as a park to further develop his recall skills. You should initially keep your dog away from other dogs or ‘must-explore’ areas such as woods that has the temptation of squirrels.
Put them on the long line to practise at first – then, if that’s successful, let the long line trail on the ground. Call them when they're not too far away and reward them as soon as they come to you – and repeat this for the duration of your walk, gradually building up the distance they cover before being called.
Keep practising recall skills on each walk. Increase the amount of distractions slowly. This is the best way to ensure your dog stays on track and consistently returns when called. Only when you have a bullet proof recall should you allow your dog to go off lead
If your dog does have excellent recall it's important to ensure you are checking for off lead restrictions first. Local councils and beaches have restrictions in place for owners to walk their dogs off lead.
If your dogs is sociable and enjoys playing with other dogs, why not try doggie daycare. This provides supervised and correct interactions with dogs in an off lead environment. Call us on 01772 202294 or enquire here.