Responsible dog owners getting fed up with antisocial owners.

Recent survey shows responsible dog owners may be getting fed up with antisocial owners.

With the countryside festooned with dog poo bags hanging from every bush or gateway, poo on the beaches and in the middle of paths and pavements, out of control dogs running towards you in a threatening way and professional dog walkers blocking paths with hordes of dogs it is not surprising that many people are beginning to get irritated.

There has been an apparent increase in the number of complaints during the Covid months in the UK of dogs not being kept under control, not being cleared up after and intimidating or biting people probably due to more owners having the time to walk their dogs. Some of these complaints involve professional dog walkers causing alarm to other walkers and their dogs (13% of dog owners now use them). What many owners fail to realise is that taking a dog for a walk comes with its own set of rules, regulations, codes of practice and responsibilities in the same way as taking a car out for a drive.

dog walker with pack of dogs
Scenes like this can be intimidating to other dog walkers and people with a fear of dogs and perhaps an accident waiting to happen.

Many dog owners are blissfully unaware of what is expected of them.

Many owners refuse to act maturely in the common good and this has led to a steady movement by many countries including the U.K to clamp down on anti-social behaviour associated with exercising dogs. This involves restricting areas where dogs can be exercised or let loose, governing how many can be walked by one person and penalising those that do not clear up after their dogs or keep them under control. Already many beaches, parks, nature reserves, open access areas (on short lead 1 March to 31 July), areas of natural beauty and urban areas are off limits or on leads only.

U.K authorities use powers under the Dangerous Dogs Act 2020 to regulate the control of dogs and also Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) which make it possible to introduce measures such as keeping your dog on a lead or banning dogs from certain places, limiting the number of dogs with you (including professional dog walkers), clearing up after your dog and make it mandatory to carry a disposable bag or scoop.

U.K. Councils are increasingly cracking down on antisocial dog owners.

A recent survey and consultation carried out by Plymouth Council in Devon regarding proposed increases in restrictions on dogs resulted in some surprising and interesting results. Although 81% of those surveyed were dog owners, 95% of them approved of making a failure to have the means to clear up after their dog an offence and 55% approved of increasing areas where dogs had to be kept on a lead. This resulted in new bylaws making it a fixed penalty offence not to be carrying a poo bag or means to clear up after your dog from October 2020.  Any request by an enforcement officer to put your dog on a lead can result in £100 on the spot fines or £1000 if taken to court.

Plymouth Councillor Sally Haydon, said: The dog owners of Plymouth have spoken. Like us, they are fed up of the small minority of people who don’t pick up after their dog and they want something done about it”.

A limit of four dogs person.

In some countries, like the Australian Capitol Territory, dogs must be on a lead on all paved footpaths and cycles paths including 10 metres each side and are forbidden to swim in lakes and rivers unless designated. Some UK local councils are restricting the number of dogs you can walk together to four and issuing fines. A woman was fined £75 for walking five dogs by Staffordshire Borough Council.

Gosport Borough Council in Hampshire are among many others who have introduced a four dog limit. Gosport Councillor John Tanner said: “With more than four dogs, you are not taking your dog out for a walk but a pack of potentially dangerous animals for a riot around the park.”

The failure of some owners to act appropriately will inevitably ruin the pleasures of others leading to local authorities and the government introducing more draconian laws further restricting the freedom of dogs.

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Don’t Jog the Dog

Just because many dogs can run fast it doesn’t necessarily mean they enjoy running long distances at a set pace, following some form of personal training regime or extreme sport you have devised for them and perhaps conceitedly believe they may enjoy. Dogs are well-known for putting up with anything in order to please their human carers. There is a fine line between running with your dog for enjoyment and running them into the ground. Given the choice most dogs might prefer a walk and a bit of boisterous play.

There are plenty of blogs expounding the virtues of enjoying jogging or running with your dog. They give helpful tips on special equipment that makes the task easier, the health hazards your dog might suffer, training methods and the best breed to choose. Is it reasonable though to actually choose a breed of dog on the basis of whether it is a suitable running partner. And if health hazards are involved, should we be putting a dog at risk just because we haven’t the time or patience to take it for a walk or you sadly cannot find a human buddy.

Keeping up – those are the rules

“I release the hound and let him roam off leash. I continue on my run and let Rodney sprint off, sniff, and do his thing. But he has to catch up to me by the time we get back to the path. Those are our rules. He revels in the burst of freedom, but he yields and returns to me at the end again. He comes close so I can clip him back onto the leash without stopping”.

gearjunkie.com-Running with your dog

As always some owners, as in all things take it too far, literally too far, often 20 miles or more and invent and participate in trendy and extreme and totally unnecessary canine buddy sports such as marathons, canicross, canibike and caniscoot. Others do not heed any advice and just take their poor dog off without any preparation regardless of breed or health considerations.

Some go as far as giving the dog special training to ensure they keep pace, maintain a steady rhythm, drink from a bottle on the move, do not stop to sniff, defecate or pee and keep to the middle of wide paths away from foliage that may distract them. Apparently it is an inconvenience to clear up after the dog or carry a poo bag.

“Running with a bag of dog poop is a bad time. I plan my running route so that Rodney can go near where there is a public garbage can. If you want to maximise your run, this is a crucial thing. Build this “strategy” into your running routes so you’re not stuck carrying a stinky bag for more than a few hundred feet.

gearjunkie.com
canicross marathon dog running

Veterinary profession advice

Veterinary professions around the world seem to sit on the fence in regard to any welfare issues involved in running dogs, neither condemning or promoting it. Many veterinarians consider 8 months to 18 months as the best time to start a dog running and of course an expensive full health examination to make sure it is capable. Dogs with arthritis, heart and respiratory disease and breeds with snub noses are thankfully ruled out but owners are warned about injuries, damage to paws on hot tarmac or by salt in cold weather. No consideration is given to possible mental health implications in regard to restricting them from enjoying their natural behaviours.

The pet trade as always doesn’t miss a trick and is obviously keen to encourage the trend as much as possible by providing dog running bootees, special running leads for one or more dogs, drinking canteens, sweat bands and who knows what. None of which would be necessary if we didn’t insist on having a canine running buddy instead of a human one.

One of the most infuriating things for some dog lovers and me is to see a person jogging with their dog, headphones on or looking down at their Fitbit or phone without checking on their dog at all. They are often oblivious that their dog may be in discomfort or needing a water break. Dogs will naturally slow down or stop just like us humans when they get tired, but for some runners this is not allowed. Many will soldier on because they want to please and are eager to remain at our sides or preferably in front which only makes them strive even more.

I am all for spending as much time as possible with your dog, but for me the increasing trend to utilise dogs in extreme sports and as part of personal training is a step to far. It is an unnecessary, unnatural and arguably harmful pastime which perhaps should be discouraged.

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