One thing I’ve found with all my walking of late is that there are a surprising number of people with very little control of their dogs. I guess I’m pretty aware of it as if ever I’m out with Lucy she has a total meltdown whenever we meet a dog not on a lead.
To be fair this isn’t an irrational fear. A few months back we were walking in the Swinley Forest and a bull terrier of some variety jumped up at her. It didn’t seem unfriendly, but considering that she was about the same size as the dog and started screaming, which then made it more curious. The owner was a long way away up the path, shouted at it for a bit before coming and grabbing it, barely mumbled an apology before putting the dog on a lead until he’d walked about a quarter of a mile ahead of us.
Compare this to what happened a couple of weeks back when I was out walking a path in Farley Hill. Coming in the other direction was a man with a lovely red setter. The dog was off the lead and exploring the bushes and path ahead. The dog saw me and started to trot towards me. The key difference was that the man was paying attention to what the dog was doing, whistled, at which point the dog stopped, turned and trotted back to him. The dog then walked to heel past me and carried on. No barking at me, no jumping up, and no lead needed.
Sadly there are precious few owners who take their time to properly train their dogs. Yesterday I passed one woman vainly wondering where her dog was before shouting at it as it chased the cows in the nearby field. There was also a father and son with an Alsatian off the lead again shouting at the dog as the dog just blindly ignored them.
I’ve lost track of the number of owners for whom the usual response to their animals jumping up, and if I’ve got Lucy with me she’s usually shaking by this time, is a shrug.
It’s not only me that has a problem, there are several farms whose land is crossed by public footpaths I’ve come across that are quite clear that they will shoot dogs that are running loose in the livestock fields.
Dogs are certainly not untrainable, it’s just that people don’t take the time to do it properly. It’s not really a new problem either.
Quite what we do about Lucy remains to be seen, certainly her having a meltdown doesn’t help. Beth has said that she is now starting to have problems around cats as well – it being over a year since Sophie died. Perhaps for a start we’ll need to get a new cat, and get her used to having animals around, slowly working up to getting her less petrified around dogs.