Balanced, composed dogs, happy at home or out and about on-lead and under effective control, are a natural and beneficial component of a healthy community. People showing their dogs strong leadership is responsible urban dog management.
Morning exercised dogs don’t usually cause nuisance barking and destructive issues. Getting out and about early sets a dog up for a quiet, restful day. But effective public exercise of dogs is all about how you do it, and in Suffolk Park dog laws and social mores are routinely trampled underfoot and paw.
With limitless tolerance for the mess of their own making, Suffolk’s entitled doggie deadbeats think it’s their right to inflict their annoying uncontrolled dog on anyone or anything else when out exercising or congregating at mobile coffee retail outlets.
Allowing uncontrolled, disrespectful dogs to stand over, menace, or otherwise force themselves on other dogs or people is about as inconsiderate and disrespectful as it gets, never mind the inherent danger the uncontrolled dog is placed in. Every off-lead genius has control of their unleashed dog – until they don’t.
‘He’s just saying hello’, ‘He’s just excited’, ‘He’s just being friendly’. The Suffolk doggie deadbeat demonstrates not only an extraordinarily advanced level of dog management ineptitude but also a total disregard for the law and others’ basic right to walk their own dogs unmolested.
Ask the Suffok doggie deadbeat to control their annoying dog and you get one of two practised responses. They’ll tell you to ‘go get effed’ quicker than you can say ‘under effective control’ or look at you like you’ve just snatched their latte out of their hand.
Suffolk Park’s responsible, law-abiding dog owners with microchipped and lifetime registered on-lead walking dogs are sick to death of being harassed by pushy, uncontrolled dogs and their incompetent, aggressive, bullying people.
Suffolk Park’s serial resident and visiting doggie deadbeats break the law and bully with impunity because Byron Council is not up to the job. Council’s rangers are invisible, and as is evidenced by this prevalent civil disobedience, plainly ineffectual. They are unable, or unwilling, to educate and encourage and, if necessary, force compliance from dogged doggie deadbeats in persistent breach of the NSW Companion Animals Act.
The off-leash areas are an actual danger at times because Council is too miserly and/or too cynically disinterested to pay the rangers a few hours overtime weekly to ‘fly the flag’ there to ensure everyone gets a safe, fair go. The off-lead areas and self-regulation in Suffolk Park are a demonstrated big fat fail.
There is a universal code of dog management etiquette on which commonsense dog laws are based. Council should be telling the dog-owning community this, but let’s not hold our collective breath. Basically, you train your dog to be a responsible, considerate citizen, like you should be. You teach your dog to walk gently to heel on-lead and mind its own bees wax and focus on you when out and about.
Your dog is never allowed to lunge towards other dogs or people or encroach upon personal space. It is not even allowed off-lead in an approved area unless you have reliable control over it when it gets distracted. And when it’s off-lead you need to prevent your dog getting too excited and you keep it under effective control. If you can’t manage all that, then you shouldn’t own a dog.
Self-evident truths are that dogs are what we make them; stupid runs down the lead, and invincible stupidity has no lead at all.
Competent dog management looks a lot like leadership, dog sense, decency, and respect. And for the last several years the Suffolk Park dog scene has looked nothing like that.
♦ Guy Hull is author of The Dogs that Made Australia and The Ferals that Ate Australia. He’s a qualified dog behaviourist, developer of The Urban Dog Project, and formerly a Kiama Council Ranger and Muswellbrook Council Animal Shelter Manager.