One of our safety policies during any pet sitting or dog walking service is to always keep the pets in our care on a leash or in a carrier anytime we depart from a home. Sometimes we are asked to let a pet run loose. Although we often understand our clients’ viewpoint for the care of their own furry companion, the following examples are why we don’t risk a letting pet run loose with us.
Off Leash Dogs
I can’t tell you how often our team runs into dogs off leash in areas they shouldn’t be. Every pet parent believes their own pet is the best there is! I’m not saying this in itself is bad, but too often it is an excuse for bad behavior.
This is something we hear all the time. There’s two problems with this statement being a pet parent’s reason to allow their pup to run up to strangers uncontrolled. 1) Maybe your dog is friendly…but the ones he/she is dashing towards 20ft from you (ignoring your call to “come” because he/she is so excited to say hi) DON’T LIKE OTHER DOGS! Yelling ahead “Oh, mine’s friendly” doesn’t help. 2) Just like us crazy humans, canines have preferences too. The dog who likes “everyone” could like everyone…except that one chocolate lab new to the neighborhood. The thing is, you can never be 100% sure.
Teaching your pup leash manners and keeping them on leash in public areas helps reduce the chance for mishaps. We want to remove as many opportunities for altercations as possible during our outdoor time together. If your dog has a date with us, it will be on the other side of a leash.
Something to Think About: If you happen to be the one out with your pup running loose in an area where there’s a leash law and your reason is because your dog is friendly and loves everyone, consider the person out for a walk who is afraid of dogs. Put yourself in their shoes. An animal that terrifies you comes running towards you, possibly barking, possibly jumping up towards your face, with no one nearby to help you…
If you want your pup to have the freedom to run off leash, there are many places designated for just that. Please go there to frolic.
“What do I do if my dog is attacked while we’re out on a walk?”
A dog attack is never fun. It is a trauma to both the pet and the people. There are many articles on how to handle a dog attacking yours and likewise there are many opinions as to what actions should be taken during the event. The best thing is to prepare for the unexpected so you are better able to respond during this type of situation. 1) Be aware of your surroundings. When I’m out walking I keep an eye out for movement of any kind. I try to assess from a distance if a dog is attached to a person and vise versa. If I’m not sure or if the pet appears to be loose, I turn my furry crew in another direction. 2) If a loose dog is heading your direction, use your body language and voice to say No to try and stop something before it begins. This can be as simple as stepping toward the approaching dog and placing yourself between it and your own pup, putting arm out in front of you with your hand up in a “stop” gesture or finger pointed at the dog and calmly but firmly (aka with authority in your voice) telling that dog “No” “Stop” or “Go home.” Most dogs have had some training and hearing the word “No” from any adult human can make them stop in their tracks. Sometimes the words really aren’t as important as your tone of voice and body language. If you don’t look like fun, a friendly dog might decide it’s not good to visit what has now presented itself as a probably unfriendly person (in the dog’s eyes at least). 3) If something happens, treat it like you would a car accident. Gather all the data possible: owner/pet info, location, and details of the event. Call your city’s Animal Services Department if you feel it’s warranted and take your pet to the vet if there was any contact between animals.
Safety tip: Don’t use retractable leashes. This type of leash can cause some major injuries to both you or a pet if you get into a bad situation.
We live in some beautiful, wide open country here in Colorado. Our neighborhoods often have open spaces connected to them with miles of walking trails. It’s a wonderful way to live, but it also means we need to be aware of who we live with and how we can best relate to the wild environment around us.
Small animals: rabbits, squirrels, and snakes
I just love walki…SQUIRREL! Furry little outdoor creatures such as rabbits and squirrels often catch the attention of pups we walk. Some go CRAZY. Others just stop and stare. We keep everybody leashed though so we don’t risk losing Fido to a casualty of canine prey drive. Sometimes even the best dog can forget the rules when a rabbit darts away. Once the chase begins it can be hard to break through to gain back you pup’s attention. What happens if the rascally rabbit darts out into the street? Being on a leash can help prevent a head on collision with traffic. Squirrels are more known for their taunting from up on high, but as anyone who has driven down a neighborhood street, those furry hoodlums have no problem dashing across a busy road to reach their next favorite tree.
The third small creature in this list is one many people don’t like. Some dogs seem to know they should stay away from these slithery things, but others can’t help but try to get closer to see what’s really going on down there on the ground. Although curiosity can be a wonderful trait, when it comes to canines and serpents it’s really best if the two don’t interact. A leash gives you the control to move your furry companion away from danger.
and larger ones: coyotes
Coyotes are a part of Colorado’s natural habitat. The majority of the time they or nothing to worry about. When the breeding season rolls around (January through March) they tend to become much more active. Keeping your pets leashed while on walks and supervised while playing in the backyard can go a long way toward preventing tragedy.
You don’t have to fear the wild, you just have to understand it isn’t tame.
Safety tip: Carry a walking stick or umbrella with you while out walking. You lose the look of easy prey when you’re carrying something like this. Walking sticks can help block unwanted creatures from reaching you and an umbrella a startle a charging animal if opened in it’s intended path.
“No man is an island, entire of itself;” -John Donne
We live in community. This means we share all our space with thousands of other individuals daily. Our behaviors effect others just as their behaviors effect us. As professional pet sitters, we want to make sure we are providing the best for our clients while also respecting the boundaries of others nearby. This is why we obey the leash laws in our service areas.
Although Colorado does not have a state-wide leash law it does require the dogs must be “under control” at all times. At the city and county level there are leash laws. Here are some links to get you started: Broomfield County, Jefferson County, Adams County (you have to scroll down this one a bit), Denver County. Do a search for your county’s regulations or call your local police department to find out the specifics for you neighborhood.
Now it’s time to go leash up for another great walk!