We know how tempting all the other dogs, people, squirrels and rats(!) we encounter on our daily walks can be to our city dogs in training, and we’ve always worked to use a variety of training tools to keep our dogs focused and safe-should temptation strike.
In the past few weeks, we’ve actually been hearing from a couple of people who have had their equipment fail. A dog that slipped out of his collar and got away. A prong that broke mid-walk. A pooch that wrangled out of his easy-walk harness. And our own hard-to-believe situation where the latch on our leash came unclipped allowing Mr. B to run down the street to meet a Giant Poodle (I guess a dog that looked like a big stuffy was too tempting for Mr. B).
Not to mention a recent scary incident where off-leash dogs severely attacked a dog in a neighborhood where many of us live and walk.
Here are some things we’ve heard, and learned, that are good reminders to keep all of us safe.
Double Collars and Leash Latch Security:
When I was adopting Miss M, her rescue group had a policy that the dogs had to be double-collared. If we were using a prong we would double-clip it with a martingale, and harnesses would also be double-clipped..The martingales are designed to be anti-slip, and these are what our dogs wear (they also come in thinner sizes and with the chain closure) and can be coupled with most any training device as a double measure.
E also designed a system using a key chain coupler (coupling key fob) to make sure our leash latches are extra secure, and Mr. B will no longer be chasing big poodles down the street. He created a diagram and wrote about it here.
Hold your Leash Securely:
We’ve had too many incidents where people unintentionally dropped their leashes, and we’ve had their dogs come running up to us (even across busy streets!). I always walk with the round loop around the crook of my elbow, and holding the leash with my other hand, just to make sure a quick lunge from the pooches won’t cause me to drop the leash.
Top-Secret Safety Recall Word (Getting your Dog to Come Back):
Just in case your equipment does fail, it’s always good to have a good recall to get your dog back. In one of our training classes we learned how to condition our dogs where they hear a top-secret recall word, used only in dire circumstances, which would have your pooch turning back–robot-like–and returning to you. We wrote more about it here. (Our word is Yikes!)
When an Off-Leash Dog Approaches You Unexpectedly:
My biggest fear each time I step out for a walk is that another dog will have his equipment fail, a gate will be left open, or an irresponsible dog owner will have an off-leash dog. We’d heard about an incident recently in Logan Square, an area where many of us live and walk, where two off-leash dogs viciously attacked another large dog, on a daily walk, leaving her in critical condition and nearly $10,000 in medical costs.
I’ve been carrying a can of Direct Stop citronella spray,which is a deterrent which is harmless to dogs, but they really don’t like it. It’s enough to deter a dog that is coming at you, but I’ve also heard it might not be enough for an aggressive dog that intends to attack. We also have a horn deterrent and mace/ bear spray that we bring on our SociaBulls walks in case aggressive off-leash dogs approach our group. We’ve never had to use them, and we probably won’t have to use them, but we like to have them in the small chance we do encounter an aggressive dog.
We know the likelihood of many of these things is small, but we just wanted to share so everyone is aware. Anyone else have any tips to share?