Freedom-constrained Fido

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Freedom-constrained Fido

Off-leash dogs in Durango are OK only at Dog Park
Trisha Wytas said the ticket she received for letting her dog run off leash was $48. It would have been $20 more, Wytas said, if she hadn’t had her dog neutered.
Javin, a 2-year-old pit bull mix owned by Trisha Wytas, no longer will be getting his exercise time at Riverview Sports Complex after Wytas was issued a ticket for allowing Javin to run off-leash at the park.
FAQs about dog etiquette

Annie Phenix, dog trainer with Phenix Dogs at the Durango Dog College, answers questions about dog etiquette:
What should a good pet owner know about picking up after his or her pet?
“First of all, with the city, it’s illegal not to. Rule No. 1 if your dog goes to the bathroom, you need to pick it up whether it’s on a hiking trail, within the city limits or anywhere in the county.”
If my dog is not behaving correctly around other dogs or people, what is my responsibility at that point?
“Keep the dog on a leash. If your dog has a history of aggression and is not trained, use a muzzle. If you have a dog and it has behavioral issues, inherited or not, it is advised to find a dog trainer. Aggression is the No. 1 problem people have with their dogs nationally.”
What is the appropriate amount of time to let your dog interact with another dog before pulling away?
“Not all dogs like other dogs in the same way not all people like other people.”
Dogs don’t need to greet each other. Her advice is to be picky. Trainers teach owners how to read canine body language to decide whether or not you want your dog to meet a nearby dog. If the dog looks stiff or uncomfortable, walk away.
How far ahead of you should you let your dog walk on a retractable leash?
Phenix is not a fan of the retractable leash and said many trainers don’t allow them in dog-training classes.
“They can cause injuries in humans and in dogs,”she said.
She’s even heard of a dog owner having a finger cut off by a retractable leash. And if you are using one on the Animas River Trail, keep your dog close by.
What is a pet owner’s responsibility while walking a dog off-leash on public lands?
“The No. 1 rule is, if your dog fights or is scared of other dogs, you don’t take it off leash, period.”
Dogs fighting on public lands can cause serious damage. Also, many trails are far removed from medical care.
Understand your dog’s limitations, she said. If your dog has an excellent recall (90 percent), then you might be all right, but if you are worried about the 10 percent, leash your dog.
Leash laws are in place for everyone’s safety, she said.
“Being off leash is a graduate-level skill.”
What are the different responsibilities a pet owner has if the animal is fixed vs. not fixed?
If you have an unfixed male or female dog, then the dog needs to be on leash or not in public, especially if there is a female in heat nearby. Voice control might not always work here, Phenix said.
“That’s biological nature,” she said. “Your dog isn’t trying to offend you by running off and mating with another dog.”
If your dog is in heat, keep her inside or in a securely fenced yard.
“Hopefully, owners know enough now to not have ‘oops litters.’ It’s up to the human, not to the dog.”
vguthrie@durangoherald.com

Freedom-constrained Fido

Trisha Wytas said the ticket she received for letting her dog run off leash was $48. It would have been $20 more, Wytas said, if she hadn’t had her dog neutered.
Javin, a 2-year-old pit bull mix owned by Trisha Wytas, no longer will be getting his exercise time at Riverview Sports Complex after Wytas was issued a ticket for allowing Javin to run off-leash at the park.
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