Yesterday we met a lot of grumpy dogs. Several times we walked away from a dog or dogs having a fit at us as we passed by. It was most definitely the day of the grumpies. Our first run in was at the beach as we approached and minded our own business. A woman with two grumpies who had just moments before allowed her dog to take a dump on the walkway in front of us and then wandered off leaving it there (enough said about this woman). She had been much too far for me to yell at and when we finally did catch up to them her dogs went off on us. Both dogs were on extension leashes and were given free reign to the end of the length. We minded our own business and continued along nicely. Elsa got a big treat for this one. What a good girl she was. The owner had absolutely no control of either dog.
Then it was the two black dogs on the beach. I'd seen these two lab/chow mixes before. The last time that I saw them, one had frozen at Elsa and I, not warm and fuzzy. The woman who owns them is oblivious to others and just indulges her two. They are allowed to do pretty much what they want. As she came onto the beach yesterday she asked me "are they friendly?" I told her that Elsa was but Luke was old and grumpy. I know what type of dogs Luke likes and does not like and these are on the does not like list. Plus, I wanted her to keep her two over indulged dogs on their leashes. I should have just said a very loud and clear NO. So with both dogs on extension leashes (you know how I feel about these) I was unable to pass them. I slowed my pace as she moved away from the path and I waited for her two dogs to catch up to her. Then one of the dogs lunged out; coming to the end of the leash and right in Luke's face. He of course reacted in a very aggressive manner and the dog retaliated as well. Not a good scenario. All of this was completely avoidable if the woman had controlled her dogs, idiot.
Later in the afternoon Elsa and I hit the park. We did some power walking, chuck it and training. While we were there we ran into a woman with a little mix and what looked to be a young male yellow lab who were also both on extension leashes. As we approached I noticed that the lab had on a pinch collar WITH HIS EXTENSION LEASH. The closer we got I could see the anxiety building in the dog. I was just going to call out to the woman as she WAS LETTING HER DOGS WALK RIGHT IN FRONT OF US at the end of their leashes. The young male came unglued as the woman shouted they are friendly but get sort of silly on leash. "Ya think?" The young male lab was clearly reacting to the presence of Elsa and the association to pain from his collar. Elsa was a little thrown by this one but we continued happily chatting away from the commotion.
As we rounded the park we came across the same dogs. Elsa completed minded her own business this time as the dogs commenced to begin their craziness once again. I heard the woman say "now do you want to pull or would you rather act like that dog?" "Look how well behaved she is," she told her two. I shook my head wishing I could say something but I couldn't even look in their direction without sending the dogs into a frenzy. Oh how I wish people knew; I want everyone to understand how dogs work. This poor young lab who was more than likely a handful to begin with had been forced to grow worse due to his owners lack of canine knowledge. She threw a pinch collar on thinking that this is what you do and then added an extension leash to it, making it even worse.
When we do come across dogs that are grumpy; no matter the reason we do our very best to ignore and move on. I make it very much a non issue; telling Luke and Elsa that we don't care about that kind of thing. More importantly I act like I don't care; there in lies the biggest and most important factor. By displaying my own very calm behavior they see that these things are no big deal and follow my lead. There are times when I am startled by a dog; perhaps one that rounds a corner that I hadn't seen. Even then I do my best; which can be very difficult, to remain calm. I am someone who does not like surprises; this is one reason that I prefer to exercise my dogs in large open field parks instead of walking down the street. I like to know what is out ahead and if there is a problem coming; I'd like to see it and know before it is upon us.
Yes there is a common denominator in all three of these situations. The extension leash. The more I see extension leashes the more I realize that the belong in the garbage. I had one for Jessie, I loved it. But it was only used in a park with no one around. I had excellent control of it and Jessie. When someone approached I reeled it and her in. Using extension leashes carelessly is just a continuation of inexperience, carelessness and lack of concern for others. Too many people have them and have no idea how to use them. These are typically the same people who have no control of their dog; a dangerous combination.