When your unleashed dog leaves your control and rushes up to the nearest passerby (with or without a dog of their own), what should you yell after your pup as you are trying to get him back by your side? Let me give you a hint: it’s not “DON’T WORRY, HE’S FRIENDLY!!!!!!!!!”
Hint number two: it’s not not saying anything either.
Not only is your uncontrolled, unleashed dog causing a disruption to the peaceful walk of others, he also could be causing an intense amount of stress and fear, despite his friendly body language and winning cuteness. Not everyone is comfortable around dogs in general, much less an unknown dog accosting them out of nowhere; likewise, other dogs you encounter may not be the type of dogs that enjoy being bombarded while they are on leash with no recourse but to accept your dog’s rude advances.
So what should you be yelling after your dog as you are trying to get them to come back to you? Until you are within 5 feet of your dog in this highly distracting situation, don’t waste your breath (hopefully limited anyways as you are already sprinting towards the unfortunate scene) on futile pleas of “Fido, Come!!!”. Instead, try fostering some shred of goodwill for yourself and your silly dog by yelling to the people warding off your dog’s advances:
And if you are in an area with leash laws that you are breaking, perhaps:
“I’M SO SORRY!!!!!!”
The best recipe for getting out of this situation without leaving the victims of this incident completely pissed off is to continue repeating variations of this phrase until your dog is back under your control (a.k.a. on leash). At this point, you can turn and walk away with your dog.
We all want our dogs to be able to run off leash and be a dog. That’s great. And sometimes our dogs get a little bit carried away and interfere with others, out of our control. It happens. But at the end of the day, in order for all people and all dogs to be able to share parks and open spaces and hiking trails together, we must go above and beyond to assume the responsibility for our dogs, including when they make mistakes. And don’t underestimate the power of taking responsibility and being apologetic to turn irritation into smiles and angry words into pleasantries like:
“Enjoy the rest of your walk!”