Dear Dog Owners,

It's been a rough winter for everyone. Not because of the weather so much, but because of COVID restrictions. A lot of us have been cooped up at home unable to get out and enjoy fresh air like we usually do. Dogs are no exception. If dogs aren't out taking walks as frequently as they used to be, they feel it too and are just as happy as us to get out and enjoy a nice little hike as we are.

The weather in Maine over the past week has been what both humans and dogs have been craving. With highs in the 50s and 60s and lots of sunshine, conditions have been ripe to go out for a walk around the neighborhood, take a hike through the woods or a stroll along the beach. Things we all can really use right now to get some of that natural vitamin D back into our systems.

That said, if you're out with your dog, please remember that not everyone is comfortable around them. Especially a dog they don't know.

While out walking along a trail this past weekend, two dogs with no owners in sight, came charging down the trail barking all the way and stopped right in front of my group at our feet blocking our path and we were all startled and a bit scared. No one was in sight and  with none of us being dog owners ourselves, had no idea if these dogs were being friendly or not. It certainly didn't appear that way with no tails wagging. We then heard voice a yelling down the trail, "Don't worry, they're friendly!" Well you could have fooled us.

I know you love your dogs and that's great, but when you're out on a public trail or beach, please keep in mind that others are out walking those same trails that may have a fear of what appear to be aggressive dogs. That may not be the case. You know your dogs better than anyone, but other people don't have the knowledge you do about your dogs that approach them in this manner.

We all have the right to enjoy the trails and beaches of Maine with our dogs where allowed, but with that right comes a responsibility. Keeping your dog on a leash is a law in some locations, but it's common courtesy everywhere you may encounter other people. Having your dog under control either with a leash or voice command with a well trained dog, allows everyone to enjoy the outdoors without fear.

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