Dog Blog Part One: Using the trail with your dog
We love our dogs. We love to have our dogs on the trail with us. But there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the safety of ourselves and others.
In this two-part blog series, Noble Trails Board Member Jenna Anderson talks with Janis Crary, a certified trainer through The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers® (CCPDT®), and professionals at the Humane Society of Noble County. In Part 1, we will learn how to handle our own dog on the trail, and how to greet (or not greet) dogs walking with their owners. In Part 2, she will share important information on how to protect yourself if you come across a loose and potentially aggressive dog. It’s a tough, but necessary, topic.
Part One: Using the trail with your dog
Written by Jenna Anderson, Noble Trails Board Member
In Noble County, you are required to always have your dog on a leash when you are off your property*. That goes for the trail, too. What else should dog owners have with them while using the trail? Plenty of treats, says Janis Crary, a certified trainer through The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers® (CCPDT®)
Treats are useful if
there are other people cycling or walking with or without dogs on the trail toward you.
“Lure your dog to the side by taking a treat to your dog’s nose to move them” said Janis. “Have your dog remain at your side by giving them a small piece of high value treats.”
Tracie Mullins, director of the Humane Society of Noble County, agrees. She suggests you make sure you keep your distance from other people and dogs by shortening your dog’s leash and giving the other trail users plenty of leeway to go around you.
This is important for two reasons. First, we don’t know how the people coming toward us feel about dogs. Even if your dog is on a leash, they may be afraid of dogs (no matter how adorable your dog may be). Second, you know your dog best. Giving space to the people and/or animals coming toward you is important if your dog is leash reactive or aggressive towards other dogs.
You don’t, however, know the other dog who may be walking with its owner toward you and Fido. As a dog owner, it’s not OK to keep your dog’s leash loose and let it come in contact with another person or pet unless the owner gives you permission. For instance, my border collie looks adorable and harmless. She is…if you are a human. But if you have a friendly dog and allow it to come close to mine, she will attack. Piper is leash reactive. She was attacked by another dog as a puppy, and she becomes afraid when she is near a dog she doesn’t know. That fear comes out as aggression, because on a leash she can’t escape. I keep her under control, and hope that when we are out on a walk, other dog owners do the same for their pets.
When you see a cute dog trotting down the trail with its owner, the urge is to pet the dog, right? But wait.
“Ask before approaching someone else’s dog,” said Tracie.
“The person should always listen to the dog’s handler,” said Janis. “If they see a hand go up in a stop motion or if they are asked to not come near, honor that request. Just as we don’t want all strangers hugging our child, a dog’s space should be respected.”
If your dog is fearful and you are unable to keep them under control when meeting new people or dogs, both Janis and Tracie suggest using a muzzle.
“If a handler feels their dog is fearful and there have been warnings such as barking, lunging, growling at other dogs, people, or children, they can condition their dog to wearing a muzzle and seek help in how to decrease the reason and risk of dog bites,” said Janis.
Tracie prefers a muzzle that allows your dog to safely drink and breathe, without allowing it to bite. That’s important for these hot summer days when we all need a drink of water to stay hydrated.
This blog boils down to three main points.
1. Keep your dog on a leash.
2. Keep your dog under control.
3. Ask the handler before petting their dog.
*Code reads: The owner of any domestic dog shall keep such dog under restraint at all times. The term "under restraint" means that an owner shall not permit a dog to be at large off the owner's premises or property, unless the dog is under the control of a competent person by use of a leash or similar device. https://library.municode.com/in/noble_county/codes/code_of_ordinances