I’m the Fear Free Certified Veterinary Practice Manager at Animal Health Clinic. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am beyond passionate about this issue because my black lab has formed a distrust of other dogs ever since we had several terrifying encounters with an aggressive off-leash dog in our prior neighborhood. My #1 goal is to keep him safe and to protect his emotional wellbeing. It’s also our #1 goal as Fear Free certified veterinary professionals at Animal Health Clinic. I call this an issue and a problem because it is. Not just for me and my dog, but every other pet parent that has a dog like mine. It’s for all the traumatized and injured dogs that we treat for dog bites at the clinic. It is heartbreaking. Please share and spread awareness. It’s a problem that is almost always avoidable.
Off Leash Dogs
- Common sense isn’t so common. Having your dog on a leash or tie out seems obvious but unfortunately, offenses regularly occur. Please help raise awareness and feel free to print the flyer below. Copies available at the front desk.
- It’s against the law. Many cities, including Fargo, have leash ordinances.
- Your dog could easily run out into the street and get hit by a car.
- Your dog could approach a dog that doesn’t want to say hello and get bit or initiate an attack.
- Your dog could get lost or stolen.
- Emotional distress. Having an unwelcome interaction with an off-leash dog is very scary for both species. We become conditioned to develop a fear response, which will trigger a fight or flight reaction. Both humans and dogs are affected by this.
Encounters with Leashed Dogs
- When in doubt, avoid the situation.
- Cross the street.
- Step to the side and allow the others to pass.
- You are taking control of the situation by avoiding a potentially threatening head-to-head encounter with the dogs. Tension in leashes may increase the dogs’ anxiety.
- Turn around and go the other way.
- Bring a distracter along with you. A toy or some treats
are great ways to redirect attention and focus.
- Keep leashes short. Lock retractable leashes.
- Retractable or flexi leashes can be dangerous and should
be avoided. Dogs and humans can easily become
- Dogs may find certain dogs offensive. Maybe a dog
made eye-contact with the other dog and they didn’t like
it. Maybe a dog is picking up on some threatening body
language from the other dog.
- You don’t know the other dog. Are they up-to-date with
vaccinations? Maybe they are painful and will feel like
they have to defend themselves. Or maybe the other dog
is fearful of other humans or dogs.
- Leashes with clear instruction of “NO DOGS” or “NO
PETTING” are available if you have a reactive dog.
- Attend positive reinforcement dog training classes to
learn techniques such as clicker training.
- We recommend Down Dog Studio.
- Don’t feel obligated that you have to let the dogs meet.
People sometimes feel like it’s the polite thing to do or
think that every dog wants to meet every dog.
- Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed if your dog doesn’t like to meet other dogs. I know it’s easy to feel that way after some of the looks we receive after we say “please don’t let your dog get closer.” You are doing a great job and are being a responsible pet parent.
Please contact me if you are interested in having me present this topic at a community outreach program. I’d be happy to share this message.
Natalie Gruchow, CVPM, SHRM-CP
Level 2 Fear Free Certified