In my line of work I meet people and work with individuals from every walk of life. I'm extremely lucky that being based in London means I'm working in the most diverse of cultures. One of the things that comes up frequently though is people referring to 'how bad youths are with their dogs' or how irresponsible youths are with their untrained dogs by their sides, attacking everything that passes. It suddenly occurred to me when I walked past a large group of dog walkers standing in a North London park, that there is another group of owners causing havoc. I call them the coffee cup owners. These are the owners who use their walk as a coffee morning, they carry a latte in a cardboard cup and stand slap bang in the middle of the park chatting. Their dogs run around off lead, weaving in and out of cyclists, chasing each other, invading others space and jumping up at strangers. Whilst their owners either ignore it or don't notice and carry on their discussions.
For me, this type of ownership isn't any less responsible than a supposed youth who has their dog off lead walking down the street. The issue is control and respect of other people's spaces. We have to share parks, streets, path ways and roads and in order for us all to do this, there needs to be some respect. In my opinion, the coffee cup owners aren't respecting others in the park. They just don't see what they are doing as wrong yet if a youth's dog ran up and jumped up at them trying to snatch a treat it would be totally abhorent. Yet when Phyllis the 5yr old Border Terrier does it, its either not noticed or just midly amusing. Its also worth bearing in mind that any dog of any breed can be deemed as 'out of control' they don't have to have attacked. And anyone can report your dog as out of control to the dog warden and the police, they just need to have felt threatened.
If we allow our badly behaved dogs to charge around shared green areas, sniff in dog free spaces and cause havoc amongst other users it isn't respectful no matter which walk of life you are from, what breed you own and where you live. Our dogs are our ambassadors and with many boroughs in London running consultations on whether dogs should be allowed off lead in public places and so forth, we need to bear this in mind. We need people who don't own dogs to back us up and fight for our four legged friends to be allowed exercise and stimulation in the London parks and green spaces. And if you cannot control your dog, please do not let it off lead!
Please note I'm not referring to you if you are just carrying your coffee around the park whilst you play, interact and talk to your dog!