Leash Etiquette & Safety

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.
    Printable dog leash safety and etiquette flyer.

    Click for printable flyer to distribute.

  • 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
    entangled.
  • 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.

  • 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.

Thank you!

Natalie Gruchow, CVPM, SHRM-CP
Level 2 Fear Free Certified
natalie@ahcfargo.com

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