This story was told to me by a client. She brought her dog to me because her dog would “freak out” whenever he saw dogs running off leash. She said he used to be so carefree and liked to play with other dogs at the dog park. Now, he was becoming more and more leash reactive, and she needed help.
“When I first moved into my new house, I loved my neighborhood. It was well kept, the kids were great, and people were friendly. Once I settled in, I decided an evening walk with my dog would be a nice way to see the area. It started out great. I stopped and talked to a few families out in their yards, and they welcomed me to the neighborhood. We continued on for a few more blocks enjoying the evening reveling in what a great little town we live in. We had just turned the corner when I saw the first one. He stopped in the street and looked at me and my dog. Then another one came out and then another. And then they started to come toward us. My dog got a little nervous, and so I decided to turn around and go the other way. And then the chase was on. Three neighborhood dogs ran after us. There was no one around to stop them. By the time we turned the corner, they had surrounded us and were barking and harassing me and my dog. I didn’t know what to do! I yelled for someone to help, but no one came. I tried to make the dogs leave us alone, but they pushed and bullied my dog and started grabbing at his fur.
“Finally a man stopped his car and started yelling for his dog to go home. It was his dog and two other neighborhood dogs that had chased us. My dog wasn’t bitten, but he was really scared. The man said that he was sorry but the neighborhood dogs “just wanted to play.” I told the man that the dogs almost knocked me down. He said they didn’t mean anything. The dogs get together and play in the neighborhood every day. He said his neighbors all work full time and they just leave the dogs out. They all come back around dinner time. They never cause trouble.”
What this man and his neighbors failed to realize is that these dogs had formed a pack. They had formed the neighborhood gang, so to speak. They now patrolled the neighborhood every day. Dog’s can become territorial very quickly. Left to their own devices, dogs will be dogs.
As our population increases and we move closer to one another, it’s up to us to provide supervised exercise and recreation. Dogs are animals living in our human society. We are responsible for their care and their well-being. We also are bound by the laws of the communities in which we live. Loose dogs that are unsupervised will get into trouble. It’s only a matter of time.
Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with 25 years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado.