I live in Batchelor Heights, an area that offers superb hiking trails. Many of these are deemed off-leash, which in itself presents no problem for me.
However, most owners of the aggressive dogs that I come across are of the opinion that off-leash means that a leash is not required, regardless of the behaviour of the dog. Rules are posted on the bylaw website and include:
1) the owner must have voice control over the dog,
2) the owner must carry a leash,
3) unleashed dogs must be in control.
If a dog becomes unruly it must be immediately leashed and removed.
I am often accosted by unleashed, unruly dogs. An observation — if there are two dogs, there is an increased likelihood of aggression. If there are three, it is almost guaranteed.
On no occasion when I have requested the owner to use a leash has this been done. Rather I am generally informed that I am in an off-leash area.
I go out of my way to leave a trail where there is an unleashed dog. However, the dogs are often already aware of me and become aggressive.
Owners often provide excuses for the dog’s behaviour, among them: he knows you’re scared, it’s only because you’re moving, he’s afraid of your hiking pole.
As well, I am offered suggestions like: stop screaming, don’t run, they’ll chase you and if you don’t like it, go walk in the park.
I was recently held at bay by two large barking dogs while the owner yelled at them in vain. They refused to follow directions and stood in front of me barking.
I knew better than to run and froze. The dogs would eventually calm and I would attempt to move away slowly. Only to have them start up again.
After several minutes they appeared to be bored and went to their “master”’ who said to me, quite genuinely,
“Sorry, it’s off-leash though.”
Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Pepper spray?