Leashing your dog keeps everyone safe

It is just good manners to be considerate of other dog owners using the trails. Big Canoe POA regulations, as well as Pickens and Dawson county ordinances, require dogs be kept on leash when walking in common areas. Photo by Valerie Doll

Doggie Dialogues
By Doris Dressler

The arrival of summer has made it inviting to walk our four-legged friends on the trails of Big Canoe. Seems like a good time to review leash laws and dog-walking etiquette.

Section A.3 of the Big Canoe POA regulations, as well as Pickens and Dawson county ordinances, require dogs be kept on leash when walking in common areas.

Leash laws are in place to protect humans and dogs. As stated in last month’s Inside the Gates, “Recent reports of dogs running loose on Big Canoe walking trails remind us that some walkers are uncomfortable around dogs. Dog owners may not recognize this concern in light of their fondness for their own pets.”

Many families walk the trails and sometimes these folks are fearful of dogs. The friendliest of dogs can be startled by running children and react inappropriately.

Even friendly off-leash dogs can get themselves in trouble charging another dog that is on-leash. Many dogs do not react well to another dog getting in their face. Dogs consider direct, head-on approaches rude canine behavior. Polite dogs greet each other “sideways,” sniffing each other’s rear ends.

It is just good manners to be considerate of other dog owners using the trails and to not allow your dog to approach other dogs unless mutually agreed upon. The dog being approached may be “leash reactive” (if strange dogs get too close, the dog on-leash may lunge and bark); the dog may be fearful (and bite out of fear); or the dog may be recovering from an injury or surgery. The dog’s handler simply may not want his dog to interact with others on-leash. A charging dog may set back weeks of training.

All that said and done … what is the proper etiquette when approaching walkers with or without dogs on the trails?

Dogs should never greet a passerby unless invited to do so, and even then the greeting should be controlled. Your dog should be taught sit politely and not jump up on passersby.

Teach your dog to walk nicely on-leash. One of the most common methods used by positive trainers is a protocol called “red light, green light.” Every time the leash gets tight, you simply stop – “red light.” When the leash loosens (you may need to call the dog back to your side) the walk continues – “green light.” You are teaching the dog that in order for the walk to continue, the leash needs to be loose. Most dogs learn to walk nicely using this method within 30 days.

There are also many tools available to help a dog walk nicely on-lead. Many styles of no-pull harnesses, most of which attach at the chest to remove pressure from the dog’s neck, are available, including Premier’s Easy Walk Harness. Premier also produces a head halter called the Gentle Leader that works in a similar manner to a horse head halter. The Gentle Leader is incredibly effective in calming highly aroused dogs.

It is also safer—and you have much more control—if you walk your dog on a regular four- or six-foot leash, as opposed to a retractable leash.

When passing other dogs, your canine buddy should walk politely past the other dog, greeting only if and when its human handlers agree to do so. If a “meet and greet” is agreed upon, be sure to keep the leashes loose as a tight leash results in a tight collar, which increases tension. As the dogs approach, observe their body language. A highly aroused dog will be lunging forward, with his hackles raised, mouth open showing teeth, growling and barking, staring intently at the other dog. If this happens, quickly abort the introduction and move on.

Another technique to use on the trail is to teach your dog to sit and maintain eye contact, a focusing cue trainers call “watch me.” This technique, with practice, works well to keep your dog from chasing after a squirrel (or deer), lunging at a passing dog (or bear), pulling ahead to check out a snake, running into the street in front of a car or jumping on a passerby.

Good luck and happy trails to you!





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