More about dogs

In response to Simon Knight’s account, yesterday, of being attacked by an out-of-control dog, Sarah Gould left this long and heartfelt comment on our Facebook page. It reflected so many of our readers’ concerns that we have decided to publish it in full.

I walk both my well behaved dogs here frequently and in general really enjoying my daily walks in such a beautiful place! But I get so frustrated by SOME other dog owners who seem to feel that as soon as their dog is off lead, it gives them the right do do whatever they want!

Some of the beautiful places to walk in our reserve

I too get charged at by dogs from across a large field and often without any sign of an owner! I’m also so sick of being jumped up at by over-excited and uncontrolled dogs absolutely covering me in mud during the wetter days. One owner told me I should be prepared for it and wear old clothes – well I do, but why should I have to get changed into old clothes if I want to just pop out for a dog walk? Especially when I’ve taken the time and effort to train my dog to not jump up at people.

Well behaved, leashed dogs with their owners in the reserve.

In the warmer months, I get badly scratched legs from dogs jumping up at me, sometimes even drawing blood. This happened just recently. The common phrase from the owners is “Oh, it’s okay he always does that.”
Well, no! It’s not ok and if you know your dog jumps up at people put them on a lead when you see someone approaching until you can train your dog NOT to jump up. It’s very simple training, there’s lots of on-line tutorials if you’re not sure how to do it.

I also get loads of other dog walkers feeding my dogs without asking even when I ask them not to. It might not seem like much but when you bump into 10 to 15 different people every day on a walk and they all think it’s OK to feed my dogs then it becomes a big problem.

Should professional dog walkers let their charges off-lead in the reserve?

I spoke with a professional dog walker after she let eight dogs off their leads and they all went in different directions and pooped. I asked her if she was going to pick the poop up and she said it was impossible to find each individual one to pick up. Over the course of a week, one dog walker with that many dogs, leaving all their poop, creates a huge amount of mess everywhere. I did suggest that maybe she kept them all on-lead until they had pooped so that she could pick up after them and then let them off the lead. She wasn’t very happy about that suggestion. 

As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a bad dog, just a bad owner!

Sarah Gould

Thank you Sarah. You have expressed what a lot of park-users have told us: out-of-control, off-leash dogs can hurt and frighten both visitors and wildlife. We will make sure that all your comments and messages reach the county’s Countryside Team.

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30 thoughts on “More about dogs

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  1. There should be notices up, all over, telling people to keep dogs on leads (not asking), reminding them that some dogs are nervous and people in general don’t like strange dogs jumping up at them.
    It would be a beginning.
    Such a lovely park – everyone should be able to enjoy it

      1. I am sorry to hear those bad stories and I hope you are all ok. I feel that yes sometimes dogs are out of control and sometimes things like described above might happen but I walk my dog there every day since 5 years and wouldn’t say it’s a dangerous or a bad place. Owners should definitely be more considerate and aware where their dog is, practising recall. Often you see someone with a dog on the lead and other owners let their dogs run up to those on the lead. Well there is a reason why they are on the lead and as a responsible owner you should clip on your dog too and give them space. Well behaved dogs should have a chance to be let off and whilst I understand people don’t want to be jumped at it should be up to the owner to control their dog. The rule of dogs on leads at all times would not be fair. There isn’t much alternative space in Trowbridge for dog walking. Also I would say a dog walker with 8 dogs at one go it’s a problem in itself, you cannot control 8 dogs that don’t belong to you. If there must be a rule in place for dogs on lead, I would suggest to make it on the main footpath, this is where the picnic area is and where most families go for a walk, side fields rarely have more than a few people walking at one time.

        1. You made a good point: there aren’t enough accessible open green spaces in Trowbridge. Part of the park’s problem is that so many people use it for so many different purposes. Lockdown showed us how important it is for people to be able to walk and play outside in the countryside. Perhaps we shouldn’t be talking about dog behaviour but about the county’s plans (or not) to improve our access to the countryside.

    1. This would be very sad if no dogs were allowed off lead at all in the park. I fear its the few spoilng it for the many. As a daily park user i will be really upset not to be able to walk the dog off lead. Most issues I find are at the weekends where people use the park who are not regulars who seem to have dogs that aren’t well socialised and maybe seem to care less about the park. The regular dog walkers are a lovely community in my experience. I think generally humans are more ignorant to the countryside code and if we spend more time educating people the situation can improve. If rules change and no dog is allowed off lead I would have to stop using the park which over the last 3 years has been a real lifeline for me. But I would happily compromise and have certain fields where you can still walk but only on lead. Ultimately humans are worse than dogs…. for example the rubbish bags dumped in the car park this morning… and people not cleaning up after their dogs.

      1. Georgia Hoad: well said . Mine are off lead at the park but I pop them back on if I think someone is coming that may not appreciate a hello.

    1. This would be a sensible solution for a nature reserve. There could be fields in which it’s OK to let your dog off the lead and then fields where your dog has to be on a lead.

      1. This has been suggested before, as a way to protect or encourage certain species. We have discussed asking people to put their dogs on a leash in Sleepers, where we were/are hoping that skylarks might nest.

  2. it’s a big enough area to turn and walk in a different area , if there are other dogs, walkers about , or to just put your dogs back on lead until other dogs or walkers have gone past . it just takes a little consideration for others , but of course people or some people don’t think

  3. My dog is well controlled and I would really be unhappy if she wasnt allowed off her lead. I use the park regularly and have generally found the regularly park users to to warm and friendly. And lets be honest if you tried to force dogs on leads how would you inforce it. I regularly see dogs in the “no dogs” picnic area.
    I love nature and feel I have helped contribute to the park with photos and information but the main reason I am there so often is to walk my dog, and at times I feel that dog walkers aren’t so welcome anymore. I love that we have such a wonderful natural environment but lets remember without people using it for recreation it probably wouldnt be there anymore to protect, its about balance.
    I actually have more problems with runners getting to close and feeling that everyone should get out of their way. There are good and bad dog owners please dont lets the bad ones ruin it for others.

      1. Susan Brett: it always is. The country park has such a bad reputation for bad dogs but I’ve only once had an issue in many years of using it.

        1. I have to admit the only problems I have ever encountered have been from so called professional dog walker dogs… too many in the pack! And the occasional Alsatian /lurcher may lunge towards us.

  4. You could have areas (maybe on the paths) where dogs have to be on leads, that way parents would have some reassurance that dogs weren’t going to jump upon their small children in that area, and it’d give the parents the right to complain to contravening dog owners. But I think dogs should be allowed off in the fields and wooded areas, they need the exercise too

    1. We have SO much trouble raising volunteers for anything. We need young, fit, IT aware, eco-conscious volunteers by the dozen but we rarely get any at all.

  5. Can I just add, I’m not recommending dogs go on leads all the time….
    My dogs walk off lead in the park because they are trained to come back, or wait.
    Then, I will pop them back on their leads at any point in the walk if needed, such as if I see people picnicking, if we are near the car park or sheep in a nearby field, or toddlers walking along, or if I see another dogs on a lead I always put them back on the lead or hold their collars until I can call to the other dog owner and ask if they would prefer me to put them in a lead.
    I think if there were areas where dogs were allowed off/on lead it wouldn’t make a difference to the dogs that just run across the fields to other people and dogs because their owners allow them to. For example, If you had an untrained dog you couldn’t stop it running on to areas where off lead dogs aren’t allowed.
    Also, just to add, a lot of the professional dogs walkers I meet are very conscientious. 
    Unfortunately the problems arising are from the minority of folk not the majority.
    It would be a shame if we weren’t allowed to let our well behaved dogs off lead but feel some owners need to be far more aware of their dogs behaviour that they are allowing and ‘read the room’ a bit more.

  6. Sarah Gould: I put my dog back on his lead yesterday when I saw a toddler toddling towards us,then found the family had two dogs of their own off leads.

  7. Lots of people telling us how well their own dogs behave but not so many suggestions for what to do about the dogs that don’t behave.

  8. Why punish the masses for the actions of a few – having an out of control dog is an offence and instances like this need to be reported to the police and dealt with that way. You could also explore taking a proactive approach by inviting the local police and dog trainers/behaviourists down for an ‘open day’ to give tips and advice. I’m sure when people see the benefits and difference a bit of guidance can make they would make their money back in bookings

    1. Simon Henstock I don’t think anyone has talked about punishing the masses or even the few. I personally feel it’s down to the individual dog owners responsibility but it’s hard to encourage that when they don’t feel they are doing anything wrong

      1. Sarah Gould: I was referring to the idea that all dogs should be kept on leads with my punishing the masses comment as there were a few particularly on yesterday’s post suggesting that. You are right as it is the dog owners to take responsibility for their dogs behaviour which is why I think a proactive open day might help 😃 I’ve been walking down here for over 20 years now and this place has had such a positive impact on my health and wellbeing I’d be gutted if I had to keep my dog on the lead because of a few irresponsible people

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