Last week I took Juneau to the dog park after work. It is part of our training plan to take her to places where she'll be distracted, while we work on her obedience commands. This also doubles as socialization training, because she's in the vicinity of other dogs. Since she still has a long way to go on that part, though, we only went as far as the grassy area NEXT to the dog park. She stays on a leash the whole time, and she's not allowed to get too close to the dogs inside the fenced-in area. If she's responding well, we walk her near the fence (still on a leash), and immediately correct her if she starts to get aggressive. It's all about just getting her more experience around other dogs, while not immersing her completely in a situation with them, and while also making sure she remains focused on us and obedient. You would think it might be a clue to on-lookers that Juneau is currently in training, when 1) she's on a leash, 2) she's not inside the dog park and 3) I'm telling her commands. After I had been there for a few minutes, this couple with three large dogs exited the dog park. They didn't have any of their dogs on leashes, and they started running wild. That got Juneau's attention, and she got overly excited. I tried to break her focus on that and calm her down, but two of the dogs started charging at her. I got a little freaked out, not knowing what their intentions were. They were very hyper dogs, and were even larger than Juneau. I don't blame Juneau for going crazy and flailing about, considering two dogs were coming at her, and I had her on a leash. I'm sure she felt threatened. I yelled at the dogs and had to jerk Juneau away. The owners just kept walking along their merry way towards their car, just expecting their dogs to follow. Are you friggin' kidding me? You have the nerve to let your rambunctious dogs off-leash in an open area, and you don't even check to see what they're doing? Thank goodness the dogs stopped just short of Juneau, after my yelling, or I'm pretty sure I would've been in the middle of a dog fight. I was livid at these people. It's very irresponsible to let your dogs roam freely, not only for others' safety, but for their own safety! Needless to say, Juneau was extremely wound up after that, and we had to abandon training for the day. Thanks a lot, asshole dog owner!
Fast forward to last night - I went to watch my bff's softball game. Sports are still off-limits to me while my knee heals, but I really miss seeing her and the rest of my team, so I decided to drop in and say hi to them. I brought along my dog, Riley, since the game is at a park and he could always use the exercise. Riley is a very friendly dog, and he plays well with others, human and canine. I would never worry about him running away, because he's too much of a mama's boy. (Case in point - when our back gate was opened somehow while we were away from home, the other two dogs escaped and Riley sat in the backyard waiting for us to get home.) Despite my confidence that he wouldn't take off, I would still never take him out in public without a leash. So, we're sitting at the park, talking after the game, and a player on another team has brought their pit mix with them. I see that they have a leash for it, but once they get by the field, they let it loose. What the deuce? It comes running over to Riley and sniffs him and starts growling at him. Riley just sits there unaffected, but I don't know what this other dog is capable of. It's already started growling for no reason, and that's at a dog that is harmless. I looked over at the owner with a "seriously?" face. I reprimanded the stranger dog and looked again at the owner, wondering if they planned on doing anything. The dog ran away in another direction before anything escalated. The owner had to chase it down. What's wrong with people? Unless your dog is trained personally by Cesar Milan himself and would never stray from your side, even when faced with chasing an alluring squirrel, you need to keep it on a leash!! I just feel like it shows a lack of caring on your part for your dog's well being when you don't take the necessary precautions to keep it safe. You're also displaying a lack of respect for the responsible dog owners who would like to keep their dogs safe.
Grrrrr. Rant over!