Safety Tips for Dog Walking

shutterstock_189676397Dog owners know the moment of anticipation and excitement once their beloved pet sees their harness and leash in their master’s hands. Walking the dog allows pets to exercise and bond with their owners. For many, it is a relaxing stroll through the neighborhood. For others, it is a constant struggle to make sure their dog does not show aggression or get overly excited upon seeing another dog.

Open wounds and other serious injuries are common following a dog fight. When these instances happen, the injuries can occur either to your pet, you or even the both of you. Here are some scenarios that can lead to dog bites:

  • Leash Reactivity – It is actually extremely common for dogs to react to seeing another dog while they are leashed. Even though your dog may get along perfectly with other dogs in an unleashed setting, they may display aggressive behaviors like growling, barking or lunging while on a leash. This problem can occur for many reasons. Your dog may feel afraid of the other dog and feel that the leash prevents them from running away from the perceived threat, so they act out to make the other dog leave. This is typically a symptom of being attacked or threatened by another dog in the past or of poor socialization, though this is not always the case. Alternatively, your dog may love other dogs, and expresses their frustration at being unable to greet the other animal in undesirable ways.
  • Inferiority Complex – this condition can occur even in animals. You may have heard of “small dog syndrome:” a reference to small dogs with large attitudes. For example, a Chihuahua may be afraid of a Rottweiler and display aggressive behaviors in an attempt to ward off the perceived threat of the larger animal.
  • Territory Dominance – Dog bites can occur even when your dog is contained in their own yard. If another dog approaches and is sniffing around the yard barrier, your dog may react aggressively, as this strange dog is perceived to be encroaching on your home. Additionally, some dogs bark, snap and lunge at the fence when a dog walker goes past, even if the owner keeps their pet away from the barrier.  This is commonly referred to as “fence fighting.”

shutterstock_130389479Avoiding dog walks or dog parks is not the only solution to this problem. After all, your dog still needs adequate exercise. There are ways to keep your pet active and healthy in their daily walks or trips to their favorite parks. Here are some safety tips to consider:

  • Study your neighborhood. Make observations when driving or walking through your neighborhood, taking notes of any areas of concern. Avoid these areas if you think your pet would feel threatened or react harshly. Remember to never push your dog over the threshold of the amount of stress they can handle.
  • Walk with a flashlight for evening walks. This helps illuminate any potential threats in areas not lit by streetlights or porch lights, allowing you to spot areas to avoid before your dog does.
  • Enlist the help of a qualified animal behaviorist to work on conditioning your dog to stimulants on the leash.
  • Choose your collar, harness and leash wisely. Wider widths of these restraint materials for certain dogs help ensure you have more control over their movements while also protecting their fur and skin. Many dog owners choose easy-walk harnesses or gentle leader halters to gain more control over their pet without increasing the amount of tension on the leash.
  • Be careful if you walk with treats. Others may smell the scent and openly approach you, causing your pets to become defensive.
  • Keep your leash slack and body relaxed when walking past something that triggers your dog’s behavior. Maintain a firm grip and keep walking past the “threat” while speaking encouragingly to your pet. Do not acknowledge the trigger. After moving a safe distance away and regaining their attention, provide a treat.
  • If approached by an off-leash dog, keep a firm grip on your pet and keep walking, or have your pet sit and keep them calm if the other dog will not stop following you. Use a loud, firm voice to command the other dog to leave. If this does not work, loud noises, such as the sound of an air horn, can drive the other dog away. As a last resort, if it looks like a fight is about to break out, bear spray or citronella spray may help drive the dog away so you can escape. However, most interactions with an off-leash dog will not result in a fight if you and your pet stay calm.
  • After an altercation with an off-leash dog, call the authorities to report the incident. In Maricopa County, dogs are required to be on a leash and under their owner’s control at all times when not on their own property.

Dog bites can produce serious injuries, including open wounds or bone damage. Be prepared with our proactive steps following any injury incident involving dog bites. We understand that is both a physical and emotional event, so try to remain calm and seek medical help. If you decide to pursue liability charges, be sure to choose experienced lawyers within your area who are familiar with dog bite incidents as well as dog laws specific to your city.

The SGP Law dog bite lawyers in Mesa have defended numerous dog bite cases in Arizona over the past 50 years. We have helped achieve substantial injury settlements for our previous clients, and it all starts with our free initial consultation. Schedule your consult online or by phone at 480.833.8800.