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And doggie makes three: Taking pets to public events

By Steve Hendrix

For plenty of dog owners, a public festival such as last weekend's Adams Morgan Day in the District is the perfect kind of outing for their beloved pooch. It's outside, active and full of the kind of stimuli a dog doesn't get during those long days in the condo crate. Dogs have been part of our society for centuries and people should expect to see them in public settings, these folks say. To them, the critters add to the festive air.

But for plenty of others, a crowded street filled with feet and kids and low-hanging snacks is the perfect place not to have a dog. For some, brushing up against an animal of any size is a nervous-making encounter. Some love dogs, but don't want them snuffling around their chicken-on-a-stick, thank you. Leave the leashed ones home, please, they say.

Which side are you on? Have you taken a dog, or had an unwelcome encounter with one, at a street fair or soccer game, on a running path or at some other public setting? What should the etiquette be when it comes to "taking the dog along?"

For a story I'm working on this week, tell me about your experiences here below in the comments sections, or by email at hendrixs@washpost.com.

By Steve Hendrix  | September 14, 2010; 11:02 AM ET
Categories:  Build-A-Story  | Tags:  anti-dog, dog shooting, dog wars, dogs, dogs at public events, pro-dog, taking the dog with  
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Comments

I am a dog owner and dog lover, but not everyone else is. Keep your dog under control in public. Those retractable leashes do not allow you to do this. Your dog is too far away from you and if you have to pull him away from anything, you can't.

Posted by: WickedRose | September 14, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Pets should be left at home.

Posted by: davehale | September 14, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Too many dog owners feel that everyone loves dogs and it OK to bring them to any outdoor event, even ones where the signs say No Dogs Allowed. Dogs and crowds of people don't mix, it's just that simple.

Posted by: oldwolf53 | September 14, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I have taken my dog to public places on occasion, when I know she'll enjoy herself and she isn't likely to bother others by her presence. Old Town, for example, is an extremely dog friendly place, with shop owners handing out biscuits and keeping water bowls on their sidewalks. I do think that owners need to know their dogs well. (It should be noted that the dog in Adams Morgan was there as part of an adoption event, which is a bit different than having been brought to a street fair 'just for fun.')

Posted by: gmch | September 14, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I take my golden retriever hiking a lot, and I have learned to step off the trail whenever anyone passes me. Only when someone approaches and asks if they can pet Penny do I let her near them. She's incredibly friendly, not at all aggressive, but so many people are uncomfortable around dogs that I'm not taking any chances.

All that said, however, I think a lot of parents do their children a disservice by not exposing them to animals when they are young. So many children that we meet are afraid of dogs. Even if your child never owns a dog, it would be better for them not to be afraid of them. Not to mention that they are missing out on one of life's great pleasures - petting a friendly, happy dog.

Posted by: jjtwo | September 14, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Lots of problems between dogs and those who don't want to deal with them in public places would be solved if the dogs were properly trained to walk on a leash. Your dog should be quietly walking next to you, not tugging your arm out of your shoulder, not gagging itself on its collar, and not straining to smell and/or jump up on people who obviously don't want to be approached by somebody else's dog. Leash training is not hard if you start when the dog is a puppy. Whenever you see somebody walking a dog with any kind of "restraint" collar, you know that the poor animal is owned by a human who's clueless about training.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | September 14, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I love my dog, but I wouldn't take him to a crowded, "people" oriented event. If he didn't have lots of things he was free to sniff and pee on, it wouldn't be fun for either of us. I'd have to keep him on track (he's a hound and follows his nose, so he doesn't watch where he's going), and he would constantly trying to go some place he's not allowed to go. It's much better to leave him at home.

Posted by: akchild | September 15, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

I will take my dog to public events - depending on the event. Would I take my dog to Adams Morgan day? Early in the day - maybe. Midday or at end of festival - no, too many people, too loud of noise or too much crap on the ground.

"Whenever you see somebody walking a dog with any kind of "restraint" collar, you know that the poor animal is owned by a human who's clueless about training."
Or that person is using a training collar/harness to train the dog (as not all dogs are owned since puppyhood), or there has been an area identified that is known, but training has not been effective, so the collar is used properly to restrain the identified issue while training continues.

But overall, I tend to bring my dog to friends places or to dog-focused events. Too many people of all ages do not act appropriately around dogs, and as a responsible pet owner, it is my job to not put her in situtations with people who are unaware.

Of course, too many dog owners forget that their dog is their responsibility 100% of the time. They are animals, and to treat them as anything else is an insult to the dog.

And, as dogs have been part of human existence since we were still hunting and gathering... they are a fundamental part of human societal growth. Unlike cats......

Posted by: Greent | September 15, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Due to having a small condo and long work hours, I don't feel I'm able to keep a dog myself, so I LOVE meeting my neighbors' dogs. The answer to whether dogs are taken out in public should depend on whether it's generally a well-behaved dog who isn't bothered by crowds. Dog owners need to be responsible enough to make that decision.

Posted by: lilkender | September 15, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

My perspective is based on years of dealing with dogs on the sidelines of youth sport events. The dogs tend to track towards each other. The kids tend to be attracted to the dogs. The nightmare scenario is when two dogs start to wrestle and there is a small child in or near the mix. A positive exchange between the animals can escalate into a negative encounter in a few seconds as the friendly sniffing goes beyond the tolerance of one animal. I do not think dogs belong in crowded places especially when a large number of children are expected.

Posted by: Spec128 | September 15, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Umm my dog is part of my family. He is less troublesome than the crying children/strollers that other people think they can bring anywhere.
But in all seriousness, dogs are very well behaved and trained. It's children on the other hand that always seem to be out of control.

Posted by: ashdaleuf | September 15, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Keep the kids home.

Posted by: jckdoors | September 15, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

the problem is rarely the dogs, it's almost always an issue with owners not knowing how to either train or handle them properly. or taking them into situations where the dogs may struggle with self control.

well behaved dogs on a proper leash who are under their owners' control are fine. the rest of them should keep their dogs in more appropriate situations until they're properly trained (whether it's the dog or the owner that needs the training, if not both).

sadly, the bigger dogs are more often the better behaved ones. many small dog owners don't see the necessity in training their dogs as well because they don't see it as a problem if their 15# dog jumps up to your knee or shows aggression to another dog. big dog owners are more likely to nip that behavior in the bud (not all, just more likely). i only wish more small dog owners would realize that it's a real problem when their little dogs have a chip on their shoulder and show aggression toward bigger dogs. that's how problems can start.

Posted by: sec231 | September 15, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

"I will take my dog to public events - depending on the event. Would I take my dog to Adams Morgan day? Early in the day - maybe. Midday or at end of festival - no, too many people, too loud of noise or too much crap on the ground.

"Whenever you see somebody walking a dog with any kind of "restraint" collar, you know that the poor animal is owned by a human who's clueless about training."
Or that person is using a training collar/harness to train the dog (as not all dogs are owned since puppyhood), or there has been an area identified that is known, but training has not been effective, so the collar is used properly to restrain the identified issue while training continues."
That's a cop out. We have a 7 1/2 year old dog that we adopted less than a year ago. When we first got her, she used to pull like crazy. Now she walks comfortably on a loose leash and we didn't have to use a "training collar" aka a torture device to train her. The biggest problems with dogs in public is the lack of intelligence on the two-legged end of the leash.

Posted by: Tex4 | September 16, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I took my ninety pound G. Shepard to AM day festival and we had a fine time. I make sure to keep only about ten inches of lead so that he stays right next to me and I only walk through when the space is not too close to others; we stand to the side and let folks pass by. I avoid other dogs since I don't know them or their owners and we stay in an open space when we are standing, that way, my friends or others come to us if they want to visit with me or my pet. A few times another dog barked at him and he ignores it even if he may want to bark back (I know my dogs very well). I have three dogs, but of course, only brought one for a good long walk while I was at the festival. We had a fine time. It's not fair to say no dogs allowed at all at public festivals based on this incident. By the way, there are so many humans who behave horrible that I wish some of them could be banned and I do believe there are more incidents with idiot humans than with dogs. Anyway, I'm sorry for what happened with Parrot on Sunday and I'm sure the foster meant no harm to anyone or another pet. He made a mistake. I question the officer's behavior after he had Parrott subdued.

Posted by: shejoy | September 16, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm a dog foster mom and I take a dog most every weekend to adoption events, which are often held at events such as these--it's how we get dogs out in front of possible adopters. An area is set aside for people to come meet available dogs.

Posted by: JulyAugust | September 16, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Given how trigger happy cops are when they see a dog, I think dog owners are nuts to take their dogs to public events.

I don't have a dog but if I did I would be very wary of taking it anywhere there were likely to be police. Heck, they'll shoot your dog even if it's in your front yard!

You can't be too careful.

Posted by: solsticebelle | September 16, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

And, as dogs have been part of human existence since we were still hunting and gathering... they are a fundamental part of human societal growth. Unlike cats......
----------------------
Greentea you had me until that last sentence. As a proud owner of BOTH a German Shepherd and a Somali (very outgoing friendly breed of cat), I can tell you cats have helped out mankind just as much as dogs have by killing disease-spreading vermin. As a matter of fact, one of the theories about the plague being even more devastating in the middle ages was from the practice of killing cats due to religious hysteria that they were creatures of the devil. No cats to kill the rats... rats thrive and carry the diseased fleas with them.

Posted by: sickofit66 | September 17, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Sickofit66: my cat comment was sarcasm, sorry if I shoulda put a ;-P on that. i love cats, and have owned 3 in the past. If I could have more than 1 pet in my place, I would have a cat. I always house sit my friends' cats - and my dog LOVES cats more than other dogs.

"Or that person is using a training collar/harness to train the dog"
That's a cop out. We have a 7 1/2 year old dog that we adopted less than a year ago. When we first got her, she used to pull like crazy. Now she walks comfortably on a loose leash and we didn't have to use a "training collar" aka a torture device to train her."

No, Tex4 that isn't a copout. If appropriately used, training collars are training collars, not "torture devices" as you claim they are. I have had been to classes where certified professionals talk about proper use of these collars, and what situations would benefit from these collars. But the key note is: appropriate use.

Example: Shock collars are training tools, but they are also used for the "invisible fences". I would not have such a fence (as I live in the city), but could see these in areas where the acreage is large - keeps the dog inside "their area".

I have used a "shock collar" in training my dog (in conjuction with a certified trainer). Why did we choose to use this collar? Because, when training off-lead recalls, if my standard gets too excited, she will not return - she will look at me, and decide not to do the command. One "shock" is enough to remind her to listen to the command - it refcouses her concentration to what it should be on: my commands.

After the 1st training session, the setting on the collar was changed from the mild shock to a hi-pitched buzz. After that, all the training was done with the collar, and the buzz was all it took to refocus her attention on what it should be. Proper use of a traingin device.

"The biggest problems with dogs in public is the lack of intelligence on the two-legged end of the leash."
Couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Greent | September 17, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I think we can take it as a "given" that a lot of dogs are a lot nicer and a lot better behaved than are a lot of humans. But I have to ask:- Is it fair to Buster the Wonderdog to take him to an event where there will be lots of noise, lots of strange feet (including strange feet not looking where they're going), often lots of heat, and generally not much water?

Of course, a lot depends on the nature of the event -- I don't know many dogs who are enthusiastic about fireworks, for example. But if the event is something that you would likely want to leave after an hour or so, why do you think your dog would enjoy it more than you do?

Posted by: edallan | September 19, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

What makes you think I enjoy having your kid around?

Posted by: jckdoors | September 20, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I prefer the 4 legged kids to the 2 legged kids- the 4 legged kids are usually much better behaved!

Posted by: 10bestfan | September 20, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

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