I know it’s tempting. It’s a lovely day and you don’t want to leave the dog stuck at home when you have an errand to run. You can kill two birds with one stone – walk the dog and pick up the dry cleaning all in one fell swoop, right? Or you stroll past the local farmers’ market that doesn’t allow dogs, but those strawberries and fresh flowers look so great, you are tempted to leave your pooch tied to a street sign while you take a quick walk around. You think to yourself that there are lots of people around so he’ll get lots of attention and won’t mind that you’re gone. Or it’s a hot day and an iced coffee just sounds so good during your walk with Fido. You’ll just be inside for a minute. It all makes perfect sense, right? Wrong.
Unfortunately, there’s so much downside for your dog that it simply does not justify the convenience for the human. Remember that the reason that you’re craving that cold drink is that you’re hot and thirsty, which means that undoubtedly your dog is too. Being left outside in the sun on the hot sidewalk is likely to be stressful for him.
Then in that state of heightened anxiety, they have to deal with a myriad of stimuli that occur on any given city or suburban street: pedestrians, children, other dogs, traffic, sirens, skateboards, etc.
So now you have a potentially hot, thirsty, anxious dog without any supervision. I have more than once witnessed adults encouraging their children to pet these dogs or bringing their own dogs over to “say hi.” Even if your dog is usually steady as a rock with squealing toddlers and rowdy adolescent pooches, when in this state, his tolerance is likely to be much lower. As with any living creature, when presented with something that they find frightening, dogs must choose flight or flight. Well, since your dog is now tied to a stationary object by a six-foot leash, he doesn’t have a lot of room for flight, so his tendency to resort to fight may be much higher than it normally would be. The chance of growling, lunging, snapping or even biting one of these “friendly” strangers is greatly increased. If he does try flight, he’s going to move away from the perceived threat and may head toward the street. Depending upon how much leash he has, he could end up in traffic. And I won’t even get in to the horrible, but real, threat of your dog being stolen.
So next time you’re tempted to tie your dog up, think about what the experience might be like from his perspective and skip the coffee!