Dear Miss Behavin’: My shepherd, “Rosco,” keeps getting loose on walks and running up to other on-leash dogs. I think he just wants to play, but he scares the daylights out of the other owners, and I’ve gotten my fair share of dirty looks.
Reply: Rosco may just want to play, but you are right to try to stop his antics. Even if his intentions are good, it isn’t fair to expect a pooch to tolerate Rosco bounding up. Also, the dog on leash is trapped, and knows it.
A dog on leash will likely be defensive if an off-leash dog runs up, because she has no means of escape. For all these reasons (not to mention common courtesy and local leash laws), it’s best to keep Rosco under your control.
The first thing I would do is reassess what you are using to walk Rosco. Quite a few dogs are able to slip their head out of a flat collar, so if this is how Rosco is breaking away, I’d highly recommend investing in a front-lead, no-pull harness. We sell these harnesses at our Center for Compassion Furchandise store (1450 Rollins Road, Burlingame), so if you stop by our helpful staff can help fit one on Rosco.
You will also want to consider what type of leash you are using. Many folks favor using the retractable flexi leashes, but these are a disaster if you have a dog like Rosco. Using a regular, sturdy 6-foot nylon or leather leash will give you much more security on walks. Don’t feel bad for Rosco that he’s lost a bit of freedom. Most dogs are so happy to be out on a walk they won’t notice what type of leash…
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