Ben has been with us for 21 weeks as of last Wednesday. Yesterday, I took him on his first road trip. We went to Kananaskis country. He doesn’t like being in the back, or being harnessed – he has to be able to see everything and stick his nose out the window (I don’t allow him to put his whole head out the window) to scent the air – so he got secured in the front seat, and away we went.
We visited several areas and stopped to explore. We had only one incident involving other dogs. We were on a walk along the Stoney Trailhead. It’s a beautiful, easy walk, and the terrain is such that Ben could walk it without any discomfort to his back foot. We were about a quarter of the way along the trailhead, when two dogs – both off leash – showed up. Because of their distance from me, I bellowed, “Get your dogs on a leash! My dog is reactive!” There were people up on the ridge, and they called the dogs to them, but only one of them obeyed. The other dog – a small sheltie, by the look of it – came back down to the people on the trailhead… and then, it started coming towards us. I called out to the people to leash their dog and repeated the warning about Ben being reactive, but the owner did not respond.
The dog refused to stop. I ended up having to plant myself between it and Ben. Ben did react and he did try to attack, but I stayed calm and kept myself between them. The owner saw what was going on – they saw Ben try to attack their dog – and still, they did nothing. In fact, they just maintained their leisurely pace towards us as if nothing unusual was going on. When they got close enough that I knew they would hear me, I snapped, “Did you not hear me bellowing that my dog is reactive?! You’re in a provincial park. Dogs are supposed to be leashed in provincial parks.”
The owner smiled at me and said, “Oh, she’s friendly. I’m not worried about it.”
My jaw hit the ground and I just looked at her in stunned silence for a second. Then, I said, “You’re still supposed to have your dogs on a leash; it’s the law.”
The owner just looked at me, nonchalantly replied, “Well, have a nice walk,” and leisurely walked past me, heading for the parking area.
According to the Provincial Parks and Conservations Reserve Act, “No person in control of a domestic animal shall permit the animal to be in a provincial park unless the animal is secured on a leash that does not exceed two meters in length.” (Note: 2 meters = 6 feet) Had a park officer shown up and seen those dogs off leash, he or she could have seized the dogs and then fined the owners for being in violation of park laws.
Thankfully, no dogs or humans were bitten – and to his credit, Ben gave me as much trust as he could to get and to keep the situation under control and to keep both him and the other dog safe. It didn’t stop him from being reactive, but the intensity and the duration of his behavior was dramatically less than when he came to me five months ago. I was very proud of him for trying to help me help him control himself.
Just because your dog is friendly to other dogs, that does not mean other dogs are the same way. Obey the park laws, people. Leash your dogs, and if someone tells you their dog is reactive, have the decency to respect that by not allowing your dog to approach.
Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on….