Responsible dog ownership and the Dog Owner Liability Act are under review at the City of Toronto. This is something the TDWA feels is long overdue. We hope that 2016 will see at least the beginning of a shift towards more compliance and better enforcement.
The fact of the matter is that our laws haven’t been reviewed in over a decade. During that time, the number of dogs living in Toronto has grown exponentially. We all need to find a way to exist together peacefully, in a minimal amount of shared space.
Here’s what means the most to us as professional dog walkers:
Most obviously, pick up after your dogs. It’s really just a matter of self-respect, respect for the city you live in, and respect for your fellow residents. There is no doubt, if you take a look around any sidewalk or park, that too many owners aren’t carrying poop bags. They have no fear of any enforcement or fines for this disgusting oversight.
We see a lot of dogs tethered outside stores, cafes, restaurants, etc.. This practice causes stress for most dogs as they sit waiting, vulnerable, and passerby after passerby stops to talk to/pet him. It’s not comforting to most dogs and you can see it in their body language. Aside from that, imagine the worst things that can happen to your dog while he/she waits for you to come back. We’ve seen it all, from stolen dogs, to dogs injured by passing off-leash dogs. We know that you want to include your pup, but we can’t stress enough that it really just isn’t worth the risk.
Recognize what is actually appropriate behavior for the dog park. Left on their own, dogs do not “work it out.” If yours tends to get into fights often, then he/she isn’t meant for an off-leash dog park setting. In time, and with some training, perhaps you’ll get there, but it takes work. If you’re up for it, it will make your life together much better. In the meantime, enjoy long walks on leash, and discover your city together.
If your dog has ever bitten someone, or you believe he’s capable of biting, then muzzle him. If you don’t, you’re not just putting other people and dogs at risk, but you’re also putting your dog at risk of impoundment/quarantine, or worse.
Respecting other dog owners and non-dog owners by obeying leash laws. This issue causes a major rift between the aforementioned parties. Some dogs are fearful of other dogs, some people are fearful of dogs. Obeying leash laws isn’t a hardship. There’s a time and a place for off-leash activity. No matter how awesomely friendly and obedient your dog is, you are not entitled to infringe on the rights of others. Lately, the number of people walking their dogs off-leash on sidewalks is surprising given the level of danger. It just doesn’t seem worth it.
If your dog isn’t perfect in the eyes of others, don’t take it personally. It’s not a refection of your personality, it’s just what is. And it’s ok. We see owner conflicts on a regular basis, and usually they’re the result of one owner asking another to leash their dog, or asking them to call their dog off if its playing roughly or unfairly. It’s ok for owners to advocate for their dog, and they shouldn’t be made to feel badly when they do.
Above all, we believe owners need to be held accountable/liable for the actions and behavior of their dogs in public spaces, and on their own property. We’re all in this together, and as with any culture or society, respecting the code is integral to a cohesive existence.
To read about the city’s review, click/tap here.