All dogs are different, each with their own quirks, fears, and anxieties. As a community of dog owners, we all need to respect those who need extra space and assess situations.
At the end of 2020, we met Zoe Blake, a qualified and registered vet nurse, who runs ‘The Friendly Pet Nurse’ to support Sussex and Surrey based pet owners. Zoe is mum and true animal lover, owner of Dylan the dog in addition to 3 cats, 2 guinea pigs, and 2 rabbits.
She launched Respect The Lead to raise awareness on all the reasons why dogs are kept on a lead, and how we can best interact and support those on a lead in a happy and safe way.
We caught up with Zoe to find out more about the campaign!
How the Campaign Started
A few years ago I got involved in an incident whilst walking my dog. Walking back to my car with Dylan I heard a dog fight quite near to us. My natural instinct kicked in and I ran over to the incident as people were screaming for help. Luckily as I got there the dogs had stopped fighting so I checked them over for any injuries.
Fortunately, both dogs were ok however sadly one of the owners had been bitten quite badly during the process and needed hospital attention. The incident had occurred after a dog on a lead was approached by a very bouncy exuberant dog that persisted to try and jump all over it. The owners kept shouting for the dog to be taken away as their dog that was on the lead could be reactive. Their request had gone unheeded and the two had a fight.”
“During my job as a veterinary nurse, I see many dogs that have sadly been in dog fights. Many of these can be from on-lead/off lead altercations which unfortunately may have resulted in injury to the owner too. This is why I started my Respect the Lead Campaign”
The focus of the campaign is to help other dog owners about how to safely let dogs interact in a safe and happy way, and that often, dogs are on a lead for a reason.
Your dog may be new to the world, it may be recovering from surgery, it may be old, it may be nervous. These reasons may mean that a dog on a lead approached by an excited dog can make it feel trapped and cause it to turn on the other dog or attack.
Owners need to respect dogs on leads, give them space and follow the three-second rule, once you have asked the other dog owner if it is okay to do so.
The Three-Second Rule
If you are walking a dog on a lead and meet another dog on a lead, ask the owner if it is ok for them to acknowledge each other. Once you have been given the ok follow ‘the three-second rule’, they can sniff and introduce themselves but after three seconds distract them away. It is best to keep the meeting brief.
Enjoyable Dog Walks
By highlighting these issues and asking owners to be more understanding about dogs on leads, dog walks can be a more enjoyable experience. When the campaign launched so many people got in touch with similar experiences from all around the world, from professional dog walkers to dog trainers and pet sitters.
My own rescue dog has to stay on a lead a lot as he likes to chase deer but it took me a lot of training to get him comfortable with being on the lead and with our recall. So this campaign is to help all dog owners, as many will not have had training, so their walks can be a stress-free experience for both owner and dog.
Resources and Awareness
Certainly, if you are in or around Horsham, Sussex you might have seen a Respect the Lead campaign poster displayed on park noticeboards. Various posters, videos, a BBC interview, and helpful ‘Do’s and Dont’s’ are available on the dedicated website: respectthelead.com
Share Your Experiences
Do you share life with a nervous dog and have any other tips? What are your experiences? Let us know below, we would love to hear your comments!