Apologies for the text heavy post, but this is a topic that plays on my mind quite a lot. As from my previous posts you can see that we live close to Chester meadows, a stretch of land that runs along the River Dee, which is perfect for dog walking. There can be really busy dog walking periods on the meadows at the most suspect times, like afternoons on weekends and between 6/7pm on weeknights.
If we take Del for a walk during these busier times, I'm often left with the dilemma of whether to let him off the lead or not. There are two reasons why I often keep him on the lead:
1. He's bad at recall. We're working on it, but it can be hard to get him back, especially when there are other dogs around.
2. Other people's perceptions of Rottweilers. Being around 14 months old, he's nearly fully grown, and is getting to be quite big. Unfortunately, people stereotype Rottweilers to be in the dangerous dogs category, and can often be scared of them as they approach.
I fully admit that the first reason is our own fault, and it's something that we're trying to get better at. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do for point number two, because those fears are instilled in people at an early age. Kristine from RescuedInsanity wrote a brilliant piece on this over on her blog.
This saddens me because I know Del is the friendliest dog there is. He loves interacting with other dogs, and even though a few have snapped at him in the past, he's never retaliated. That said, I completely understand why people can keep their guard up.
So, do I let him off the lead and not care about others? After all, Del is entitled just as much as the next dog to be off the lead and get his exercise.
Or, do I keep him on the lead?
I find that dogs can appear a lot more aggressive when they're on the lead. For example, when Del is on the lead and he wants to interact with other dogs that aren't on a lead, he becomes quite boisterous and will try and get to them to say hello. This can be quite scary for an onlooker who has never met him- he just wants to play. We had an incident on Sunday where a male Labrador came (albeit quite quickly and suddenly) to say hello to Del, which made Del nervous and bark.