Behaviour & Training

Please note that these articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of As with all matters relating to your dog, please use your own judgement where appropriate.

When Owners Fail (written by a jogger)

It is a rather sad truth that many people these days think that owning a dog merely involves feeding and walking. Training can often seem to be either way down the scale of priorities or something that people start and then give up on when the going gets a little tough. Before you start booing, yes I am writing this article from the point of view of a jogger, but please note that I am also a (responsible) dog owner too. And I accept there are many good owners out there too, but I wish I would meet these people on my runs instead.

I tend to run three or four times a week, usually all in public places ranging from urban streets to public footpaths across rural areas. My gripe is this: not a single run goes by without some incidence occuring with a dog or dogs, or more accurately, with an owner. These incidences can range from the mild, such as a dog merely showing interest, to the severe, such as a dog giving chase, and in once instance, biting me. The frustrating part of all of this is, it is generally never the dog's fault. The owner is often to blame, as they haven't properly socialised their pets and yet still think it perfectly okay to let them run freely off the lead in a public place. This is negligent to say the least.

The worst owners

I have had owners telling me to relax while they allow their dog to jump up at me, and that their dog doesn't bite. Probably what they should be saying is that their dog hasn't bitten them, yet. Anyone else, especially a runner going at speed towards their owner, is an unknown. Others have been unapologetic when their dogs have thwarted every move I have made to avoid them, and in once case, tripped me completely over. And another old guy, who sensibly had his dog on the lead, seemed to feel the need to tell me that had his dog been off its lead, I would have been fair game! Is it me, or do these idiots forget that should their dogs bite someone in a public area, then the dogs are set for desctruction and the owners are set for an appearance in court?

To me, the owner that cannot control their dog is on a par with those that simply will not. As I mentioned earlier, I am a dog owner too. Basic training has always been seen as a necessary part of my dog's upbringing. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Ceasar Milan, but if I took my dog anywhere in public and didn't think I could trust him, then the lead would stay on. It would apall me to even think about letting my dog race off towards someone that doesn't know him or his temperament.

What to do?

Unfortunately, after years of running, owners don't appear to be getting any better. Just the other day a dog that was actually on the lead was allowed to jump up and snap at me. Luckily it only managed to get the glove on my left hand but suffice to say, the shock ruined my run. My choices seem to come down to either moving to and running somewhere completely remote, or to just stop running. Neither of those will happen, so no doubt I will just have to keep running with my fingers crossed that the owner I see a half mile ahead can, or will, control their dog. Failing that, it is tempting to buy some running shirts emblazoned with something like: "Control your dog before I do...", complete with an arrow pointing to a can of mace secured to my shorts.

Submitted by Pete Hauxby April 2011.