Dog’s Eye View: Dog at large? Not my dog
It’s summer. We’re out with our canine buddies, hiking, fishing, boating, on the front porch or just outside. Incidences of dogs running at large increase dramatically during this time of year. And, with that come dog/dog, dog/human, dog/vehicle and dog/wildlife encounters.
I did some research before writing this article and found informative websites. The city of Steamboat Springs has detailed information including pet etiquette rules and safety, pet licensing and permits and off-leash dog parks and trail information. Routt County Colorado State University extension website has information on dogs and wildlife.
One thing that was impressed upon me is that our laws and ordinances are very specific in regard to dogs and their guardians. I think we sometimes believe we can turn our dog loose here or there because it’s an off-leash area. But if you carefully read the signage and ordinances applying to dogs, you might be surprised at the rules and laws that are in place so that all can safely enjoy the outdoors with our dogs.
My experience working with owners of dogs at large through the court in Steamboat Springs speaks to the need for all of us to be more attentive to what’s really happening out there. It seems that as individual dog owners, we may believe that our dog is different and wouldn’t hurt a person or another dog.
Many of the cases that I worked with were incidences of dogs being allowed to hang outside in a neighborhood without supervision. Groups of dogs may chase each other and cause one to run into the street. Dogs have been hit by cars and severely injured or killed in some of these scenarios.
When we hike on trails, we may be faced with a deer, elk or other wildlife that our good buddy bolts after and chases into the forest.
The Routt County Extension Office writes, “Dogs are a constant threat to wildlife throughout the year. There is a law protecting wildlife such that if an adult observes a dog chasing wildlife, he or she can shoot the dog. Dogs, even the sweetest and gentlest, can find great fun in chasing wildlife. This causes additional stress to wildlife and can result in the animal being caught in fencing, in highway encounters, or using up critical energy reserves.”
Read and understand the law.
It pays to be well informed. Did you know that if you tie your dog up outside a store and go inside to shop that your dog is considered at-large? He is unattended. Busy summer streets might leave little space for people to pass by a dog alone and leashed to a bench. Some dogs might be unaccustomed to being left among a moving crowd of people and bite if approached by strangers.
If I could emphasize one point on the topic of dogs at large, it would be expect the unexpected when you are out with your dog. Environment, that is your immediate surroundings, absolutely affects your dog’s ability to stay connected with you. Know the rules and be there for your dog.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training, LLC with more than 30 years of experience.
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