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.

Related Articles:

How to Avoid Being a Thoughtless Dog Owner

Tips on how to be more sensitive to your dog’s needs.

Dogs will put up with virtually anything we throw at them because throughout time they have been groomed to be our subservient companions, existing to please us and to be completely dependent on us, but in many cases we do not reciprocate this devotion. We often let them down by insisting they comply with our lifestyles and leisure pursuits rather than considering what their desires and needs might be for a life worth living. Many of the activities we think they enjoy is purely subjective on our part, as of course they cannot tell us otherwise. Companionship is a two way street and what they need is someone to spend quality time with them, doing things they want to do not necessarily what we want them to do.

Some points to consider from a dog’s point of view:

1. Don’t acquire me intending to leave me home alone.

Recent surveys indicate that 40% of owners leave their dogs home alone for more than seven hours and more worryingly 20% thought it was acceptable to leave a dog for more than a day. The whole point of having a companion pet is for its company and to spend as much time as possible with it. Many dogs suffer from depression caused by separation anxiety with symptoms ranging from incessant barking, whining, messing and destroying furniture and fittings to just sitting and staring awaiting an owner’s return. It is not enough to spy on your dog with a cctv camera or leave the TV or radio on. You should be at home with it.

2. Don’t take me to a crowded shopping mall or market.

Before considering taking your pet to the boring sterile environment of a crowded shopping mall try seeing it from their point of view particularly if you have a small breed. Give it a try by getting on your knees and elbows continually dodging from side to side for hours through sea of alien legs and see how you get on. Not to mention negotiating the slippery tiled floors and the frustration of these sterile surroundings devoid of animal scents to investigate and the perfect spot to make a mark on things. It is stressful and unfair to enforce such a boring trip on a dog and don’t even think about leaving the dog in the car.

3. Don’t tie me up outside a shop or supermarket.

Ever watched the behaviour of a dog tied up outside a shop. The look of bewilderment as the owner disappears inside and the hesitant tug at the lead followed by the anxious and apprehensive look at the strangers who walk back and forth or try to engage with it. Then as the minutes tick by the nervous pacing and stressful occasional whine and bark at the realisation that you may not be coming back. Finally the elation and relief when it spots your familiar face which you mistake for an demonstration that your dog loves and misses you, when it is in fact sheer relief on its part, having gone through a whole gambit of stressful emotions no matter how many times you insist on putting your dog through it.

4. Don’t take me jogging or running

Just because dogs like to run, and agreed some are more suited to running a reasonable distance than others, it doesn’t necessarily mean they particularly enjoy long distance or training runs. Dogs will valiantly follow because their life revolves around pleasing us, but long distance running is not natural for them. They were bred for companionship not to take part in our extreme sports and pursuits. Keeping up can cause emotional and physical distress when they wish to stop for a rest, a good old sniff or comfort break. Churlishly shouting at the dog to keep up, or worse still, strapping the dog to you so it has no choice is just being purely selfish. Better to find a human buddy or join one of the numerous running groups, and entertain your dog later. Remember your obsession to run may not be theirs.

Whether all dogs enjoy our pursuits is subjective on our part.

5. Don’t go cycling with me in tow.

As with running, cycling with a dog in tow either for sport, exercise or pastime is another selfish practice with little thought given to the interests of the dog. The enjoyment factor for the dog is purely subjective on our part and it is better to err on the presumption that the dog does not necessarily like being dragged behind a bike. Thanks to social media coverage we now have Canicross and similar “sports” and just because the pet trade have cashed in by providing attachments to harness one, two or three dogs to the rear, side or front of the bike it doesn’t make it either sensible or acceptable. It is neither safe for you, the dog or passing pedestrians. It is no wonder that there are reports of members of the public becoming aggressive to cyclists doing this. Shouting at the dog to make it keep up should they falter is particularly shameful.

cyclist pulling dogs

6. When on a walk with me leave your mobile phone or headphones at home.

For most dogs their daily walk(s) is the highlight of their day, their chance for a fun time, to play, explore and receive words of encouragement. The whole purpose of taking your dog for a walk is for you to have one on one interaction, form close bonds and get some fresh air and exercise for our well being. It should not be a chore, or to spend time catching up with friends on the telephone, texting, searching the net or listening to music. Remember your faithful friend is only with you for 8 to 15 years so make the most of it.

7. Don’t mock your dog.

Although dogs can be very intuitive to our moods and actions they may not always pick up on our motives when we play and interact with them. There is a fine line between innocently playing with them and mocking them through teasing, taunting and ridiculing them. Dogs can pick up on this resulting in them feeling frustrated, upset, worried and even depressed. There are many actions that can cause this including feigning throwing a ball or stick, not allowing them to have a good sniff or pee on a walk, teasing and winding them up so as they get over excited and then admonishing them, being impatient with them, tugging their lead, dressing them up and laughing at them. These are all things that can confuse and frustrate a dog and show a lack of sensitivity on our part.

Related Article & Video:

A video about changing our mindset on our selfish insistence on making our dogs fit in with our lifestyles.