Intense bright blue skies, fresh temperatures and colorful foliage. Who doesn’t love Fall? For those of us lucky enough to stay and enjoy them, the autumn months on Nantucket are truly sublime. Along with scalloping, warmer clothes and everything pumpkin however comes hunting season. All dog owners should be keeping to designated walking trails, wearing bright clothes, and of course ensuring the safety of their dog by keeping them on leash.
Having a dog run-off on you can be a terrifying experience at any time. But in hunting season, you’re putting both yourself and your dog at risk if they go awol. Now is a great time to take stock of how you’re keeping your pet safe and whether you’re taking unnecessary risks. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Ensure clear and up to date identification – your dog’s collar is it’s driving licence/passport/ voter card. Make sure all phone numbers are up to date and legible. There are some great collars out there with name and phone number woven into the design so anyone can identify the pet even at a distance.
- Check your dog’s equipment regularly – flat snap buckle collars should fit snuggly (you should only be able to fit 2 fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck) and should be replaced if showing wear and tear. Harnesses should be checked to ensure they’re still a good fit for your dog. Metal clasps on leashes can seize in salt-air. Check that they open and close easily when depressed. While GPS collars provide a level of reassurance that you should be able to locate your dog if they get loose, they provide no measure of safety and are not a substitute for taking the time to train your dog a solid recall. Keep in mind that batteries die, cell reception on Nantucket can be sketchy, and collars are designed to snap off if caught on something.
- Assess your surroundings – healthy young dogs are naturally inquisitive. While you may think your dog will stay by your side come what may, the truth is that unforeseen events will cause any dog to do surprising things. A sudden noise, a friend across the street, a dog barking in a nearby car, even a blowing leaf or bag will get most dog’s attention. Dogs have been known to jump through open windows, tear leashes from their handler’s grasp, and run out of doors left ajar in order to check something out. Always have a good grip on your dog’s leash when out walking and especially when near busy roads, never leave car windows so wide that a dog can jump from them, and ensure doors are properly closed.
- Keep in mind that relationships take time to develop – your dog may be your best friend but the trust you share doesn’t immediately transfer to another care-giver/dog-walker/pet-sitter. Ensure that whoever is looking after your dog puts pup’s safety first and foremost. Neither you nor they should assume that your dog will respond to them in the same way they do with you. Newly adopted dogs and shy or fearful dogs are even less predictable and should always be carefully leashed when in un-secure locations – it’s far easier to catch a run-away dog trailing a leash than trying to corner a terrified dog by it’s collar. Specify your dog’s needs and choose your sitter/walker/groomer carefully.
- Train your dog – accidents happen and management strategies will fail. But a dog who whip’s his head around when he hears the sound of his name, comes when called, and is comfortable with stranger’s approaching them and taking hold of their collar will make all the difference in situations when, despite the best intentions, your pet has gotten loose.
Tips for what to do if your dog does start playing “keep away” to follow in a further article.
This post was written by Als