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551 Trail - Dog Walking 2012-01-05

Walking Jake on a greenway

During a recent walk with our dog, Jake, on a local greenway, we met two walkers with their big dogs on leashes in an open area. Another dog was also in our group and the two walkers' dogs seemed more interested in the other dog in our group than than they were of Jake. Jake sort of flew under the radar. The trail was a loop so we met the group again, but the next time, the encounter was on a bridge. Jake was in the lead and passed the biggest dog; but then the other dog lunged at Jake dragging the walker with him. We had a dog fight and both dogs were on leashes.

As soon as possible, the dogs were separated. Jake was shaken. Jake does not like other dogs. He is not aggressive to them, unless he is attacked. Instead, he wants nothing to do with them. If we had met the other walkers anywhere other than on a bridge, Jake would have been so far away from the other dog that the dog would not have been able to reach him.

We apologized, to Jake. Oh, we knew he didn't understand our apology; but we were actually making a commitment to each other to be more aware when Jake was with us. He did not deserve being attacked and we probably could have prevented the incident.

It is fun to share the paths and trails with our four legged friends. They enjoy hikes so much; but to avoid nasty encounters you have to practice controlling your own dog and what to do when other walkers you meet do not control their dogs.

First, there were a couple of issues that led to our attack ...

One problem for Jake (and us) was, the rules posted on the trailhead kiosks for the Nashville Greenways calls for all dogs to be on on a six foot leash and walked on the right side of the path. Jake was trained to walk on our left. If he is trying to avoid an encounter with another dog, then he would go to the right; but as a rule he walks on the left. It is difficult for us to walk Jake on the greenways because of his left side only (heeling) training. When Jake walks on the left, and us on the right side of the path, he is closer to the other path users.

With our first encounter with the other walkers and their dogs, we saw that the dogs were on a leash; but not under control. Being on a leash only indicates the dog can be restrained.

Our solutions ...

Know your dog. Know when they become aggressive and why.

Know the path or trail and the rules.

Follow the rules or don't take your dog on the trail. We might not take Jake back to that greenway again, because he walks on the left making it harder to avoid encounters.

Avoid narrow passages. The greenway we were walking had long confined bridges. The bridge where we met the other dogs even had a blind corner.

Learn how to avoid dangers. We knew that our incident could have been avoided, if we had blocked for our pup. We use a blocking technique when we want to keep Jake away from other walkers, runners, dogs etc. The idea is to position ourselves between the other dog and Jake. Then, Jake can hide! The technique has been very successful for us. The blocking works best with two or more blockers. You are not trying to get bit by the other dog or yours. Move away and control your dog if a fight breaks out. The block is only an avoidance maneuver.

Follow the rules and control your dog on the trails. You both will have a better time.

Happy friendly doggy trails


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