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Many cities or towns have local laws regarding when and where dogs need to be on leash. Dogs on leashes are assumed to be under the caretaker's immediate control. But just because your dog is on leash does not mean it is not a potential hazard for those around you. For example, a dog that is on an extremely long leash can still run up to people or across a path or road. If your dog is dog aggressive or can be aggressive to people, including children, it is especially important to have your dog in your control. Also, more caretakers are beginning to take cats out on leash and many dogs cannot resist chasing these animals. Some caretakers do not like to keep their dogs on leash because their dogs pull constantly. Head halters, such as the Gentle Leader, are new training tools that make it much easier to walk your dog. Generally fitted by a veterinarian or animal care professional, these halters increase good behavior in the dog without the discomfort of a choke collar. Ask your veterinarian or local sheltering agency for dog training classes that help you learn how to appropriately walk your dog on a leash; this should be comfortable for both the dog and caretaker.
The State of California requires that all dogs in the back of open pick-up trucks be tethered in some manner to prevent them from jumping from the bed. It is important that the leash be short so there is no possibility of the dog jumping out of the truck partially and then hanging off the edge by the leash.
Some caretakers will leave their dogs leashed in a yard that does not have a fence. Many dogs cope with this situation with no problems, but others can tangle themselves, causing severe injuries from the leash and cutting off circulation to legs or other body parts. Dogs have also been known to try to jump into a low window to the house and have hung themselves until they die of suffocation, unable to climb back out.
Many areas have local dog parks, either enclosed or not, that allow dogs
to roam freely. These areas allow dogs to play together off-leash, offering
an easy way for caretakers to allow their dogs to exercise. These may be
privately or municipally governed. Rules are often enforced only by those
who visit the park, including feces pick-up and refusal to allow aggressive
dogs. Mutual cooperation is required by all parties involved for these parks
to remain clean and safe for the dogs and caretakers alike.
When selecting a companion animal, be sure to consider how close your
neighbors live, whether your dog will necessarily be outdoors, and how much
noise can be tolerated in your neighborhood (See Choose wisely
Dogs). Constantly barking dogs can be a major nuisance. Authorities
can be notified and you can be fined or if consistently causing disturbances,
your dog may be taken away. Dog trainers or behaviorists can also help you
prevent or stop your dog from barking excessively.
As a courtesy to those who follow, pick up feces from your animal on walks for appropriate disposal. Feces are unsightly, presents a health hazard, and prevents others from enjoying public areas. Dogs who are kept in backyards and freely defecate in the yard must be cleaned up after as well since this can cause a significant odor and fly problem for your neighbors. Many dogs are taught from the time they are puppies to eliminate only in certain areas, such as near bushes or away from the lawn. This training simplifies the cleanup task for family members.
Many caretakers forget about the feces their cat leaves in neighboring
yards. Many cats like to defecate in vegetable gardens which can lead to
the spread of disease to people. Cats also cause a problem since they usually
return to the same toilet area so may be consistently defecating in one neighbor's
yard. Cats also can spray urine on vertical surfaces such as people's cars,
Besides cleaning up feces after your animal, keeping your animal vaccinated
and healthy when going outdoors helps prevent the spread of disease. If your
animal has signs of illness and you are not sure if is contagious, take
your animal to a veterinarian who can help you decide if your animal poses
any threat to other dogs and cats. State governments invariably require that
dogs receive rabies vaccinations and most municipalities also require licensing.
Keep current on these requirements for you, your dog's, and your neighborhood's
health. Fines are often charged to caretakers who do not license their dogs
regularly. Usually, licensing fees are significantly reduced for those who
spay or neuter their animals.
Many people will feed neighborhood feral (domestic animal that has gone
wild) or stray cats and feel this helps the community. While living animals
require food, the reproduction of feral cats needs to be stopped so that
more and more of these "unowned" cats do not appear. It is estimated that
2 cats with 8 kittens per year (not uncommon) can produce 174,760 cats in
7 years. Take responsibility for spaying and neutering any of these cats
that you feed. Many local shelters or veterinarians will work with you on
management methods and defer costs for procedures. Diseases such as feline
leukemia can spread through these colonies and also to the companion cat
population. Cats brought in for spay and neuter can also be tested for the
fatal diseases, feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus (the cat
equivalent of HIV), and those having the diseases be removed from the population.
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