The Dangers of Walking the Dog

As a dog owner, there are times when an extending dog lead can be extremely useful, especially when training and preventing escapes. However, they should always be used with extreme care.

We all like to think of ourselves as responsible citizens, avoiding unpleasant situations when we could unwittingly endanger others. And it means that we also enjoy sharing our pleasure with others in common open spaces in the countryside.

I once witnessed a nasty accident caused by an extended dog lead. A cyclist was approaching a dog walker from behind and couldn’t see the thin line of the extending lead – and he hit it at speed. The dog in question was large and heavy, resulting in the cyclist going straight over the handlebars and ending up in the hospital. 

The man walking the dog suffered panic attacks for months afterwards because he felt that he hadn’t acted quickly enough and that it was his fault. If the cyclist had had more consideration for others using the same path, he would not have been travelling so fast – or he would have alerted the dog walker to his presence (where have all the bells gone?). The whole situation could have been easily avoided – and both parties would have enjoyed their time in the countryside on that sunny day.

A week or so ago, a jogger approached me from behind on a very windy day. I was completely unaware of his presence. My two terriers were trotting along by my side, sniffing here and there. Suddenly, the jogger jumped over my dogs and ran on – he gave no warning of his impending presence. 

We didn’t hear him due to the wind. This frightened my dogs, who were keen to protect me from this ‘thing’ that had jumped over them. So they ran after the jogger, barking furiously. He continued running and tried to kick them, which made the situation worse. Fortunately for the jogger, I quickly got my dogs under control. He ran off shouting at me about unruly dogs. He didn’t stop at any point.

I went home angry and shaken – very much relieved that the incident hadn’t been worse. Mutual consideration and collaboration are required by everyone when sharing public paths – then we should all be able to enjoy the countryside together. 

Anne Hodges is a volunteer at Cadela Carlota, a charity that cares for abandoned dogs in the Algarve.


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