Herts Canine column: Reminding Dacorum dog owners about responsibilities and laws on exercising your pet

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There are a large number of owners who are not up to date with the law

As most of you know Herts Canine is very passionate about promoting responsible dog ownership.

We spend a lot of time educating owners on what their responsibilities are and what the law dictates regarding being out in public with your dog.

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Unfortunately, on a daily basis we hear, and while out with clients witness other dog owners with little control of their dog in public.

Mark Mayho, Herts CanineMark Mayho, Herts Canine
Mark Mayho, Herts Canine

I’d like to use this platform as a way of continuing to promote responsible dog ownership on a wider scale.

Sadly, there is a rather large number of owners who are not up to date with the law and believe because they and their dog are in a public place they can do as they want - WRONG!

So - what is the correct answer? The law is clearly set out! But what is the responsible approach when exercising your dog.

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I have been a full time dog trainer for almost 25 years. My dogs are trained to the highest standard. However, I would still not trust any of them to be off lead all the time. I go to some parks or wooded areas and sometimes feel the best option is to keep my dogs on leads in that particular environment for whatever reason. We must remember dogs have the ability to think for themselves and CANNOT be relied upon 100% for anything!

Herts CanineHerts Canine
Herts Canine

What can we do to improve dog ownership responsibly when in public?

We need to firstly keep in mind that yes, your dog is a member of your family and you absolutely adore them, but, not everyone you meet when out walking your dog shares those feelings. There are many people who are scared, worried or anxious when they see a dog coming towards them, on or off lead.

Even somebody who has dogs of their own can easily be intimidated by some of the larger breeds! People shouldn’t be fearful to exercise their dogs because of the lack of consideration of the minority.

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I’m a dog trainer and a dog owner, but I am also a dad. I’ve been in situations where I’m kicking a ball around with my kids and a boisterous dog has boldly charged over. It is infuriating and not fair.

The law states that it is a criminal offence if your dog makes a person reasonably fear injury. If this can be proven beyond reasonable doubt, the dog will be considered to be dangerously out of control under section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs’ Act 1991.

Before I release my dogs for off lead exercise, I am always aware of the following:

- Other dogs in the area (on and off lead)

- Members of the public

- Any activity that may excite my dogs, for example children playing ball games

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- People sat on the floor with food/picnics etc (remember dogs by nature are scavenging animals)

- Any discarded rubbish

- Where the nearest roads are

- Cyclists/scooters

- Anything that could potentially spook my dogs

The best approach is common sense and manners. Let’s all try harder to keep each other safe and not let bad habits ruin the reputation of man’s best friend.

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