Question about small dogs and safety

alisandeApril 11, 2010

I have a friend who used to have large dogs. After the last one died in old age she bought a miniature dachshund puppy. Taffy is adorable, of course, and my friend adores her. There's nothing she wouldn't do for Taffy. But I think she takes risks with her safety, and I wonder if I'm overreacting.

Because Taffy is little, my friend takes her out in the car a lot. This is something she couldn't do as easily with her big dogs. Taffy is not secured in the car, and when my friend exits and enters the vehicle I worry that Taffy is going to jump out. My friend said this isn't a problem.

If we sit on a bench in the park, Taffy in my friend's lap, she's attached to a leash, but the leash isn't attached to anybody. My friend sees no need to hold onto it unless they're walking. This makes me nervous, because I can just imagine Taffy spotting something interesting and taking off into the street. Again, my friend doesn't think there's cause for concern. Honestly, I hope she's right. Maybe I'm reacting to the fact that the dog is so small, or maybe I'm confusing my dog history with this dog, who is very different from any I've owned.

What's your opinion?

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I have small dogs and I don't think these are specifically small dog issues. No dog should ride in the car unsecured IMO. Mine ride in their crates, which are buckled in with the seat belts. I'm more concerned about them being thrown during an accident or jumping in my lap and causing an accident than with them hopping out when the door is opened. If a dog is too big for his crate to fit, they make harnesses with straps that buckle into the seat belt slot.

The issue of holding the leash when she's sitting would depend on the safety of the surroundings. If there's a road nearby, I would certainly think the dog could jump down and run into the road before her leash could be grabbed. It would also depend on the dog's typical behavior. Some are more likely to bolt than others. Still, it's easy enough to just hold the leash and then she wouldn't have to worry about it.

It sounds like you've already discussed your concerns with your friend, though, and there isn't anything more you can do if she doesn't agree. If you press it, you'll probably just alienate her.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 8:23AM
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Yes Allisande! And this is exactly what I run into when walking large dogs: Small dog owners who don't comprehend that leash laws mean lead must be attached to owner at all times. I can picture the wee one jumping off of the owner's lap as I approach and running directly into my dog's mouths like a wayward stuffy while I yell 'call your dog' and your friend waves and says 'oh don't worry Taffy loooves big dogs.' Crunch. Darn, my dogs thought it was a squirrel. Well, that wouldn't actually happen with my dogs because I'd ask them to 'leave it' and they'd look at me for guidance. But this HAS happened with large dogs on lead and small dogs off lead or on flexi leads (you know - those 25 foot might- just-as-well-not-be-on-a-lead things many small dog owners use) And why should the rest of us have our relaxing walks interrupted because your friend isn't controlling her dog? Keep talking to her!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 11:15AM
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Thanks, Deb and Cynthia. Yes, I've had to back off because I was starting to annoy her. One time we were sitting at an outdoor cafe right next to a busy street. I was in the next chair, and at one point I reached over and picked up the end of the leash, slipping it over my wrist. She removed it and took it back. I figured that was my cue to stop hovering and asking questions like, "Are you afraid she's going to run off?" (She lets her run free on the property, not always in sight, and this is not a trained dog.)

I just don't get it. I know how devastated she'd be if anything happened to Taffy. This reminds me a bit of when I was a breastfeeding adviser and would occasionally see mothers who adored their children, and who did everything in their power to feed them well and raise them in a healthy manner, but who drew the line at car seats and seatbelts. I said to one of them once, "Do you love your kids until you get into a car, at which point you don't care what happens to them?" She was a good friend, so she didn't hit me.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 11:45AM
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You are correct to worry about your friend's dog, I've had dachshunds for over 30 years , right now I have three , two miniatures and a standard , whenever they are in the car I make sure that they are crated or wearing their belts ( yes , seat-belts for weenies ) when they are in public , they are leashed , here it's the law. And by the way, for the information of cynthia, take care when discounting the smaller members of the dog kingdom, particularly dachshunds ! Remember Dachshund means badger dog , and the standards , around 20 to 24 pounds were bred to go down a badger hole and worry the little sucker if not kill it ! If you've never seen a badger, look it up and you'll see that little dogs are not necessarily little wusses.

My neighbor didn't listen to me at the cottage and would often allow his retriever to roam the area until one day he decided to jump over my fence to check out those little mobile lunches, unfortunately for him the weenies were a little more agile than he was and able to skip around and under very very quickly and now he isn't he anymore ! So watch the knobby bits ! Which is more or less what the judge said when the case came to court.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 9:53PM
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Not sure why you inferred that I thought small dogs weren't dangerous Paul. They've ruined too many of our walks. So the lecture was really off target. Large dog owners do not typically discount the terror and danger of small dogs but too many small dog owners sure do. This is not about large or small. This is about owner responsibility and training.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 1:40AM
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OMG! Pass this on to her:
A couple months ago I was traveling at 70MPH on a busy 3 lane xpressway in the right hand lane. Far up on my right I saw that a car had pulled onto the shoulder, brake lights on then off. I slowed a little to watch and move to the middle lane and as I drew nearly even with the car, I saw the drivers door swing open and a young woman stepped out. Immediately a puppy jumped out after her! OMG I screamed and my eyes were rivited to the rearview mirror in horror. I had passed by ok, but what of other cars? The pup and owner then did even more! The girl must have yelled because the puppy started running away from her toward the grassy median- across 3 lanes of highway! AND she ran after it!!! Half bent over at the waist she ran a foot or two behind it. By God's grace it was not rush hour and there was only one other car behind me aways back. My last view backwards was of a human and dog in the median and a car with a still open drivers door on the opposite side of the expressway.
I am praying and assuming that these two "made it". For God's sake always, ALWAYS at least leash your dogs in the car and preferable crate 'em! (Cats too.)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 11:18AM
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Thanks, Paul. Your eh, hem, "tail" here will be passed on to a good many of my acquaintances!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 11:25AM
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Biggest dogs we ever had were our 10 lb. mini Dachshunds - especially our 2 special guys - seriously Alpha - but benevolent. We had as many as 4 at one time, with the Alpha I "supervising" at the beginning and Alpha II, at the end - although I am sure the 2 of them would have been the best of friends. As others have pointed out, there are safety considerations in the car - not to mention finding your Dachshund straddling the head rests in the car. Re the leash issue - when your friend has her Dachshund on her lap, the leash should be held tight because if her Dachshund sees ANYTHING that he will consider prey - squirrel, etc. - he will be off - they are hard-wired that way. Then of course there are certain people they do not like. And other dogs that they might want to take on. There was once a calendar that pitted a Dachshund against a Rotti - and it was so true - because every Rotti we ever met wanted to eat our guys for lunch - and vice versa (but they got along famously with Dobes). It used to scare me because our Alphas - while realizing that danger might exist - were not about to shirk their duty to protect Mommy, the adored one (they loved Daddy, but Mommy was "it"). Dachshunds of course have back/neck issues - and yes, our special guys had worst case back/neck problems and each had full body surgery. A leap from your friend's lap could easily be the "event" that triggers a disc rupture (especially when it can happen just walking down the hall). Hopefully your friend's Dachshund falls into the mild temperament variety - our others did - so they were a happy family with a leader - but even they would try and dive bomb from our laps if they saw something. Personally, I prefer the super Alphas. I went to Woofstock in Toronto a couple of years ago and met a whole group of Dachshunds and the parents were all discussing how nervous their dogs were and there sensitive tummies???? Not my guys - the gourmets of gourmands - but then there is so much mucking about these days with dogs. I really hope your friend's Dachshund is not one of the toy dogs - I saw one in the U.S. that weighed less than 2 lbs. - a Dapple like my last guy - and he was on an extendable leash - full length - on a patterned marble floor. He blended right in and was almost stepped on. He was so small I felt sick - and the health issues this dog will have. All Dachshunds love me - with the most aggressive being the first to hug me when I see on on the street - love it! I think your friend needs to have a serious talk with someone who has lived with Dachshunds for some time and knows a lot about them. Personally, I am in favour of stopping breeding of the angels due to the back issues - the pain and heartbreak of the surgery is horrible. For this reason we now have an American Eskimo - I will never get over those long legs - and he worries when we meet a Dachshund because he senses the bond. Best of luck, but I am concerned. My Dachshunds were the dogs of my life. By the way, if nothing else, tell your friend that in Canada, Dachshund back surgery costs about $8,000 - that might scare her.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 3:41PM
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