Going Off-Leash


Farfl playing nicely with Bobby the puppy

If there's one thing I've learned since getting a small dog, it's that you might be able to control your dog off-leash, but you sure as hell can't control anyone else's.

One of the things you have to realize as a chihuahua owner is that although your little prince or princess might behave impeccably at the park, the same cannot be said for OPDs or Other People's Dogs (or their bloody owners, for that matter).

Farfl is a very friendly, inquisitive dog and will always say hello to any dog that isn't barking (she's not down with too much noise). Unfazed by size she has gone straight up to Great Danes and Newfoundlands just the same way as she would greet another chihuahua.

Having got her through eight weeks of puppy kindergarten and feeling confident about her off-leash behaviour since taking her to the Toronto Chihuahua Meet-Ups I was ready to let her run around in our local park with all the other dogs.

The first half a dozen visits were fun and she really loved being able to socialize freely. I was very proud of how well-behaved she was and lots of other owners commented on how well-trained she is. Unfortunately, this run of good luck didn't last.

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Three incidents in the last week have really shaken me up and made me much more cautious about letting Farfl run free at the park.

Firstly she was attacked by a golden retriever. As she went dashing towards the dog, who was chasing a squirrel at the time, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Most of the squirrels in Toronto are black and I guess Farfl could be mistaken for one since she's so small. Before I could call her back to me the retriever spotted her and chased her down, nipping at Farfl's backside. She screamed, I screamed, the owner screamed. Farfl managed to outrun the dog and ran straight to me. Although the retriever's owner yelled at her dog, she offered no apology. I left quickly. Luckily Farfl was uninjured.

The next incident involved another puppy who was off-leash. Farfl was saying hello to a bunch of big dogs when what looked to be a Beagle/Jack Russell cross came bouncing towards her. Farfl greeted the puppy nicely, but the puppy started chasing her and batting her with its paws. Farfl tried to run to me, but the puppy was pushing her around so much and knocking her down that she couldn't get around him. I asked the owner to leash her dog. She said "He's only a puppy, he's only playing." By this stage Farfl was screaming in fear. I managed to push the other dog out of the way and grab her. I'm sorry, but it's not play if both dogs aren't having fun.

In the last incident I took Farfl over to make friends with three little dogs who looked to be Shih Tzus or Lhasa Apsos (I'm not really sure what breed they were) whose owners were sitting on a bench. Things started off nicely enough until the three dogs chased Farfl clean out of the park, over a road and up the street. Luckily a guy with a French bulldog managed to grab a couple of the dogs so Farfl got free of them and came running straight back to me. None of the owners apologized - they just leashed their dogs and walked off.

I'm sorry, but if you're a human in charge of a dog then BE IN CHARGE! If you can't be sure that your dog will play nicely with every other dog in the park, then keep it on a leash. My dog is nicely behaved and should be allowed to be off-leash. Unfortunately, with so many ill-mannered dogs (and owners) in the park, I have to be super-careful and vigilant. I can't rely on other owners to be responsible. Which is a damned shame.

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  1. Fry says:

    I, as well, have a pit-bull who stands out as the most adoring animal I have ever owned. Soon, a fresh dog breed will can come together to the media to blast, as they have performed rotties and dobies in previous many years. Unfortunate that media sensationalism breeds a lot inaccurate details.

  2. Rill says:

    I must say, I love Cesar Millan’s approach to pit bulls. I love his show!


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