Balancing on three legs he stands staring as I slowly swerve the truck to avoid hitting him. Buster has claimed the road again as his own personal space. Watching him limp down the roadway, I wonder how he lost his leg. Was his injury the result of a traffic accident, or did some other mishap befall him on his daily travels across the country side. Then I wonder if it was Buster who chased the neighbor's cat. Was he the one who barked all last night? Was Buster the dog who scattered the trash last garbage day? Left to his own decision making it could have been Buster, or it could have been any other dog; because let's face facts, that's what dogs are inclined to do.
Dogs love to explore. If you live in the city, they will want to sniff out the whole neighborhood. If you live on two acres, they will want to check out five. It doesn't matter how much space you have, your dog will want to travel off your property to check the smells which always seem richer on the other side of the hill.
Modern dogs face many challenges which didn't exist thirty or forty years ago. Increased urban growth has changed the rules for the family dog and the responsibilities for the family dog owner. Increased traffic and industrial growth has placed dogs who roam at very great risk. Concerned parents worry about the safety of their children and their property when dogs roam unsupervised. Responsible dog owners need to consider these valid concerns when managing their dog.
Dogs need to explore, to play, and to have fun like Buster. But it must be done in safe and responsible ways. Instead of letting them run loose, consider taking your dog to a dog park, or an area specifically designed for dogs. It will take a little more effort but your dog will meet many new canine friends. There is usually an off-leash area at these parks where dogs can run and play without you having to worry about traffic or other hazards.
Consider taking your dog to obedience or agility classes. Classes are a fun way to channel their energy through positive activity. Tracking classes are another great way to connect your dog with its natural hunting instinct. Dogs love to use their nose to explore scents hidden in a field or meadow.
The whimsical image of a dog like Buster roaming unrestrained is no longer practical or safe. Provide your dog with safe opportunities to get plenty of attention and exercise. Your dog will love you for it!Noel Pepin -- Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists