My boyfriend and I visited a friend of mine in Copenhagen recently. As always — all of my dogs came with!
So whenever we went out to see the sights, I always had a dog or two with me. I train guide dogs for the blind here in Germany. One of my puppies, Monty, is learning the difference between encountering dogs on and off the leash. The difference is this and it’s quite simple: Absolutely no contact with other dogs when he is on the leash. When he is off the leash and has free time, of course he can and should play and run around with as many other dogs as possible. This should be kept black and white to avoid confusion if you make too many „exceptions“. „Oh, he can pull towards that other dog this one time.“… no! What’s telling him when he is and isn’t allowed to do that?
Monty is still learning the difference. With it being a big new city, a long (13 hour!!) drive behind us, and everything being completely different, he was more exciteable about approaching dogs than usual. He wasn’t doing anything bad, but it needed a lot of improvement to become reliable. We went and saw the famous Mermaid by the water, some pretty statues and ended up at a gigantic fountain.
We were gathered around the base of this founatin in the photograph above, and a woman walked past with her Spaniel. It had been a fairly long day of me needing to always correct Monty every time we saw another dog. He wouldn’t pull or bark or anything like that, but he got a bit excited. Which is why I was so pleased when Monty looked directly at this Spaniel about to walk past (fairly close to us) and remained sitting very calmly next to me. For the first time, I didn’t need to correct him. We just sat, calmly looking up at the fountain, and I quietly whispered, „What a good boy, Monty! That’s how you should do it!“. I reached into my bag to get out a big handful of treats as a reward and as I was about to give it to him, the woman stopped walking. Without saying anything or asking if it was alright, she unleashed her dog who sprinted off and quite literally leaped on top of Monty, getting them both tangled in his leash, both of them were now very excited, although Monty was trying to hide behind my legs.
Trying to keep from yelling at the lady and exciting the dogs even more, I grabbed the Spaniel’s collar and told the woman to come get her dog. She just stood and watched as her dog was chasing Monty around my legs and I was clearly not happy. After another minute or two, I told her more directly, „Come get your dog now.“ She finally strolled over, leashed her dog and said, „All dogs deserve happiness!“ That got my blood boiling. I told her that my dog plays with other dogs all the time, but at the moment he was on a leash and I was rewarding him for not going to other dogs. She said, „I live here, around this park all dogs are always off leash. I live here!“ To that my answer was simply that, well, I don’t live here I guess. I told her that for all she knew my dog could have been very aggressive or scared, been sick or had just had a surgery and that was why he was on a leash.
The point being, simply, that she should have asked. Although I didn’t want it to, and tried very hard to forget about the incident, it ruined my mood for the next hour or so. Monty had done so well, that one time, and this lady had to let her dog loose on us without asking. What really bothered me almost more than that is something I encounter daily. People jump to conlcusions and think that, just because I want my dog to be polite and not always sprint off towards other dogs, that they are not „happy“. My whole pack gets more attention, movement and play than any dogs I know. And I know a lot. Just as dogs need to learn to play with other dogs and have a good time, they need to learn to sometimes walk past other dogs when that’s called for.
Especially my dogs, being trained to live and work with blind people, require a higher level of discipline. Which is not a bad thing. Quite on the contrary, dogs love having something important to do! Beats sitting around in an empty house all day!
Well there wasn’t a point in wasting my time arguing with this lady, so I said what I had to say and continued walking through Copenhagen with my boyfriend and friend. We will always bump into people we disagree with, but the important thing is to avoid getting into a heated debate with them over small issues. The second thing to take away from this story, is… always ask before letting your dog go to a leashed dog!
What similar stories do you have? I would love to hear about them in the comments!
Photo: Tiamat Warda
This post is also available in: English (Englisch)