Stepping out on my small 5×8 patio, I gaze carefully around my apartment building. Thinking the coast is clear; I take my two leashed dogs onto the waiting grass surrounding the stucco building. My dachshund, Sam, immediately begins his business while his sister, Eris, gazes around taking in our surroundings. Eris is an excitable Blue Heeler and is always ready to play. Walking to the corner of the building I hear it, the piercing laughter of a group of young children. Not again…
I do not have some child phobia. Quite the opposite, I normally love children. Except when I am walking my dogs around my apartment building. My dogs are friendly and have never harmed anyone but, when provoked, they get excited and sometimes jump on the focus of their affection. With this being said, every time I take my dogs for a walk I am petrified. Running into the children of the complex around turns into a loud frustrating situation. The second they notice my dogs they run straight to them without fear.
I have always loved showing off my dogs however; yelling and running at top speed at two leashed dogs is not wise. Seeing these excited children, my dogs get nervous and excited. They begin to yip and bark. The children are typically unphased by the yipping and run straight into the dogs. My dogs are decently trained and well behaved but Eris is a jumper.
Anyone that has ever owned or met a Blue Heeler knows they are high-energy dogs. Mine loves to jump. Over the years Eris has learned when jumping is appropriate, but she always tries to jump on the pack of 4-7 year old children (seriously, they are out roaming the complex that young). I have repeatedly and politely asked them not run at the dogs and to not just launch themselves on the dogs but it never seems to get through. I end up looking like a lunatic holding Eris by her collar singing a chorus of “sit, good girl, sit, sit, sit, good girl.” Trying to stay calm so I will not feed into the excitement, it stresses me out. I truly fear that one of my dogs will pounce on a kid and injure them. If this were to happen the accident would be blamed on the dogs.
My partner and I have no children, so I can only speculate the ins and outs of parenting. I seem to remember as a child my parents putting the fear of some deity into me, telling me to stay away from any dog that was not ours. I understand it is my responsibility to keep my dogs under control but am I the only one with any responsibility in this situation? My polite requests seem to pass through the kids and there is never an adult to be seen.
Due to these issues, I have had to develop strategies when taking my dogs for a walk. For short potty breaks I now take them one at a time. One dog is easier to handle than two and they don’t feed off each each other. I also try to scope out doors before I take them out, especially when I have both and we are trying to make it away from the complex area for a longer walk.
I believe the kids are not trying to be rude, they just want to pet the cute dogs. Even with their good intentions, their behavior could get them seriously injured should they come upon the wrong dog. I have wanted to track down their parents and talk to them about their children’s behavior but felt it could be taken as me being rude and stepping on their parenting toes. Unfortunately, all I can do it take care of my dogs and hope for the best.