An event last night prompted this. Not a huge, catastrophic event. Just something small and annoying that is happening more frequently. Inara and I were out for a walk with some friends and their dogs. We were getting ready for our final lap around the park when a woman with two German Shepherds unhooked their leashes and started throwing a ball for them. Hardly a crisis, the dogs seemed very well-mannered and focused on their ball. The problem was that this was in an on-leash only park. Inara started barking because, though she’s come so very far, two large sprinting dogs is still too much for her. So we had to cut our walk short. As I dragged Inara back to my car, I called across the park to remind the woman that leashes are required. I found out later from my walking buddies that after I left, she told them that apparently her dogs weren’t the issue – mine was the one acting aggressive. Hence, this letter:
Dear “normal dog” owners,
As somebody who doesn’t own a reactive dog, I understand that you don’t get why your well-behaved dogs can’t be allowed to run free. I mean, they’re not hurting anybody, right? I’m not going to lie, I’m sometimes jealous of people like you who can let their dogs run and play off leash. The problem isn’t that your dogs are running off leash. The problem is that they are running off leash in an area designated as on-leash only.
For those of us with reactive dogs, these leash-required areas are sometimes the only place we can safely walk our dogs. Neighborhoods can be scary because of off-leash dogs in yards. Dog parks are obviously out of the question. So a lovely park, in my neighborhood, that requires leashes on dogs? Perfect!
But when you bring your off leash dogs into what is supposed to be my dog’s safe haven, even though they are well-behaved, it can push her past her threshold and set her training back. We’ve worked very hard, and the fact that she can happily and calmly walk within a group of (leashed) dogs is still mind-blowingly awesome to me. So it’s incredibly frustrating when I have to cut my walk with friends short because you are thoughtlessly letting your dogs run free and it’s getting my dog worked up beyond fixing, to the point that she looks like the bad guy in the situation.
I’m simply asking that you have some consideration for those of us who cannot utilize the many dog parks and open areas where dogs are SUPPOSED to run off leash. Please let us keep our on-leash areas safe for our reactive, leash-required dogs. Someday, if you have a reactive dog, you’ll understand.
The owner of a “special needs” dog