By Fran Jewell
I am beyond horrified by the stories and experiences that have been occurring in the Wood River Valley between dog owners. The number of my clients and friends that have been ASSAULTED by off-leash, aggressive or overbearing dogs is absolutely shocking and appalling. Just because we are a dog-friendly community does not mean that every dog has the right to run off-leash, NO MATTER WHAT!
We need to sit back and take inventory as to whether we are contributing to further dog-and-people confrontations that make living here a nightmare, or whether we are contributing to the peacefulness and glory that this Valley has forever been known for. Lately, I am disgusted with the threats people have made to other people because of their dogs. This is absolutely uncalled for and unconscionable.
If you pride yourself on being a responsible dog owner, you can check off the following:
- You pick up your dog’s waste and don’t expect the poop fairy to come along and take that dollar bill you put under the poop-filled bag. You carry it out!
- Your dog has a 100% “come” command NO MATTER WHAT! Your dog does not chase game or other dogs or kids, or others on bikes, etc.
- When someone asks you to call your dog or put your dog on a leash, you respond with, “Of course! My apologies if he scared you or jumped on you!”
- If you are on a road and you see a walker with a dog, you SLOW DOWN.
- If you are the walker on a road, you call your dog and make your dog sit while the car/truck passes. It is NOT COOL to let your dog jump on someone’s car!
- Contain your dog in your yard. Do NOT let your dog accost passers-by. If someone walks by your house, your dog needs to remain in your yard whether they have a dog with them or not. It does not matter if your dog is “friendly.” Many people are afraid of dogs and they have every right to walk down a public road.
- BE KIND TO OTHERS. You do not own the forest, or the trail, nor does your dog. Move over for others. Call your dog to you (thus the need for a 100% recall), step off the trail, and have your dog sit nicely when ANYONE passes by. It doesn’t matter if your dog is “friendly” or not. It is NOT okay to accost others.
- If you know your dog is aggressive to dogs or people, PUT A MUZZLE ON IT! That assures everyone’s safety, and notifies others to stay clear. EVERYONE has a right to be out with their animals, but that does not mean your dog has the right to aggress or hurt ANYONE!
- It is not an excuse to say my dog is a “shelter dog” for bad manners. You train your dog regardless of where you got him.
- You apologize if your dog is unexpectedly rude. Next time PREVENT THAT SAME EVENT from happening again!
- TRAIN YOUR DOG. Dogs that run free must EARN that right with training. You don’t give a toddler keys to the Suburban and a credit card. They must EARN that right through maturity and training. Ever heard of Driver’s Ed?
- Carry a leash with you on all walks/hikes and use it to keep your dog and others safe when needed. It is not an evil thing. Carry treats to reward good behavior. On EVERY WALK.
- Keep your dog healthy; see your veterinarian regularly.
- Don‘t expect your dog to be Lassie. Understand the breed of dog your own and what their genetically-formed natural instincts are. Don’t lie to yourself about who your dog is. Honor them for who they are. Not all dogs are dogs that want to be with other dogs. Respect that.
Let’s all work together to keep the Wood River Valley the lovely place that drew you here. Don’t ruin it with nasty behaviors to others and empowering your dog to be the same way. This is a beautiful community that has for years and years loved our neighbors and our visitors. Let’s keep it that way.