a situation happened at our local dog park yesterday morning that raised a question I have often wondered about.
Our local dog park is at the end of a long road and in a large area next to a river and bushland. We tend to go there when it's fairly quiet, so I'm not sure how busy it does get. But what I've noticed since we started going there is that a lot of the dog owners let their dogs off leash in the general area surrounding the actual dog park, even though there are clear signs not to.
All our dogs are okay off leash and with other dogs, but my great dane cross is very pully when he wants to go say hi. There's no danger of him actually getting away from me, but it takes a lot of strength to hold him for the few seconds it takes to get his attention back. I have bought a Halti and will use it from now on. Over the years of owning different dogs, it often seems that the small dog owners (I own a small dog myself) happily allow their off-leash small dogs to approach other people and dogs on the lead. This happened to me years ago as a teenager when I owned a rescue Alaskan Malamute who was aggressive to small white dogs. Thanks to obedience school and lots of work, he did improve a lot, but not before some avoidable incidents with small dogs off leash that came up barking at his legs. It also didn't help that the dog outweighed me by about ten kilos. I had to go through a time of muzzling him whenever we went out walking, which was uncomfortable for him and made people assume he was vicious in general. I had people with small dogs abuse me while their off leash dogs practically leapt down the malamute's throat and I had my arms around him wrestling him away.
Yesterday, while in an on-leash area, my (friendly) large dog nearly pulled my arm off as a little dog approached us while the owner looked and did nothing. I couldn't talk as I was trying to get Harry's attention and Harry could have been pulling in order to attack as far as the other guy knew. My daughter had the standard poodle pup and our toy poodle on the leads behind me. The small dog approached all three dogs in quite a dominant manner and still no response from it's owner. I felt incredibly frustrated and I ashamed to say, once I had Harry more firmly in hand, made some loud, sarcastic remarks which finally triggered the small dog to be called away.
Hence the need to put Harry in a Halti as I obviously need to have more control over him without hurting myself.
If Harry had been dog aggressive and the small dog had gotten close enough to us to be attacked, who would be in the wrong? I suspect I could be accused of not having my dog under adequate control, as well as the small dog owner being wrong for having his dog off leash.
Why do small dogs owners do this? Has anyone else had any experience with this kind of thing? It happens on about every second on-leash walk we go on in our suburb. How did you guys deal with it? Do you think other people see only big dogs as dangerous/and or needing to be on the lead?
Ironically, a few weeks back when walking our small dog and the poodle pup around the block on the lead and at heel, a neighbour's GSD got out and attacked both dogs and snapped at my daughter and I. It was only due to our thick winter clothes and me kicking out at the dog, grabbing up our dogs and standing in front of my daughter that we didn't get bitten. My yelling happened to scare the dog off, but we would've been in trouble if it decided to persist. It was a terrifying experience. The owners said the dog "didn't mean it" and didn't seem sorry. We did make a police report, but nothing has come back and the dog is still there. The adult daughter drops her baby off there most mornings to be looked after and I hate to think of the potential danger the child is in.