While we would all like to say we never get distracted when it comes to our pups, we can’t pay full attention to them all of the time. It just wouldn’t be possible. There are moments when we need to leave our dogs at home, focus on other things, or deal with problems that take our eyes off of our pooches. There are even times when we get careless, like when we check our phones when we’re out for a walk or when we have our headphones in when we should have our ears open. We’re not perfect. But there are absolutely times when we cannot give in to distractions with our dogs. Certain everyday situations can become very dangerous, and even deadly, if we don’t give them the proper attention. It’s easy to fall into bad habits, but our dogs depend on us to keep them safe, and we owe it to them to be vigilant when it counts. Here are five situations where getting distracted with your dog can cause some serious harm or death.
1. Using An Escalator
You may not take escalators with your dog very often, but many dog-friendly locations and transportation platforms have them. Service dogs, especially, may be required to ride on escalators, and while most humans can just hop on these moving stairs without thinking, dogs can find it more difficult. One of the reasons escalators are so dangerous for dogs is that they’re so routine for humans. We tend to forget that it’s a situation where things can easily go wrong.
One dog owner found this out the hard way when she was riding an escalator at Los Angeles International Airport. Her small dog was with her on the escalator. While she seemed to be paying attention to her dog in the video, I’m sure the thought of danger didn’t cross her mind, and she was also focusing on her luggage, which probably didn’t help. Her pup’s paw got caught in the escalator, and things could have been much worse if a concerned bystander didn’t push the emergency stop button.
This dog needed several stitches, but it is often far worse. Paws can get caught, limbs can break, and leashes can get stuck and cause strangulation. If you ride the escalator with your dog, it is probably best to carry them if you can or take the stairs, but always be aware and stay calm. If something happens, immediately push the emergency stop button before the situation–ugh–escalates.
2. Taking An Elevator
Most people think nothing of riding on an elevator. They get on while looking down at their phones, push the button they’ve pushed a thousand times before, and wait for the doors to close. This is another situation that is so routine, we forget to pay attention, which is especially a problem when we’ve got our dogs on leash with us.
A dog owner at a hotel in South Carolina wasn’t paying enough attention to where his dogs were when the elevator doors closed, and one of his pups got dragged upward as his leash snagged between the doors. It was lucky that the hotel manager saw what was happening and acted quickly, snapping the leash before much harm could come to the scared dog.
Some dogs are not so lucky, and a few have died when their leashes got stuck in elevators. Getting on and off the elevator while your dog is on leash can become deadly when you don’t pay attention. Always make sure your dog is past the doors when they are closing, and stand in front of the doors so they do not close until you know your pup is safe. It can be easy to forget to do this, but you need to take precautions when your dog is with you. They don’t understand how elevators work, and it’s your duty to protect them.
3. Riding On Public Transportation
If you live in a major city, chances are good that you use public transportation. Some of them have rules about canine riders, so you may or may not take your dog on the bus or subway, but service dogs are usually allowed. If you need to ride public transportation with your dog, you need to stay aware, especially when getting on or off.
A dog owner in Boston let her attention drift for a moment, and before she knew it, the doors of the train shut behind her, and her dog was left with a group of concerned commuters. It seems that in this case, the doors may have been malfunctioning because a worker had to pry them open. This time the owner and her dog were lucky because the problem was resolved before the train started moving.
If circumstances had been different, the dog may have ended up somewhere else and been taken by anyone. If the dog had been on the platform when the train took off instead, they may have been dragged. Always keep your dog at your side when getting on or off public transportation. Do not let them move too far ahead or fall behind and always pay attention. You never know when something might go wrong, as it did in this case.
4. Getting In The Car
You’ve probably gotten into and out of cars thousands of times in your life, so it’s very easy to stop bothering to pay attention. Additionally, if you’re busy trying to put a baby in a car seat, buckle up kids, deal with groceries or luggage, or trying to multitask, the distractions can add up quickly. When you’re distracted, your dog can end up paying for it.
This happened to a family member of mine. She had a beautiful Golden Retriever at the time that was getting in her car when she got distracted and closed the door a little bit too early. The poor dog’s tail got stuck in the door, and unfortunately, part of his tail had to be amputated. He went on to live a long and happy life without a full tail, but the incident could have been prevented.
Tail and paw injuries can easily be caused by car doors, as can injuries to other parts of the body if dog owners aren’t careful. Always take time to put aside the distractions, no matter how frustrating and demanding they may be, when getting your dog in and out of the car. This is an accident that is very preventable, so don’t let it happy to your pup.
5. Crossing The Street
No matter where you live, you probably have to cross the street at some point with your dog. In urban areas it’s very important to pay attention, but in rural areas it can be easy to stop looking before you walk because cars come by so rarely. You need to focus on your dog and your surroundings when you cross the street every time for both your safety and your dog’s safety.
One dog walker decided to take his focus off of his dog to yell at a driver for, according to the video, doing absolutely nothing wrong. The angry man was so distracted by his rage that he walked straight into a pole. While he and his dog weren’t too hurt–except for his pride–things could have been so much worse. If it had been a two-way street and a car had rounded the corner while he was looking away, his dog could have been hit. Any number of dangers could have hurt his dog while he was distracted. He should be thankful that his ego was the only thing that was harmed that day. Some dog walkers actually die when they get hit by cars or trucks.
When you’re crossing the street, put your phone away and don’t let anything impair your senses. It should go without saying that you should look both ways and keep your dog at your side, not out in front of you or behind. Make sure you have eyes on all the cars coming your way and any pedestrians or other dogs that may be approaching, as they can also cause a distraction. If you have to cuss out a driver, do it when you’re safely on the sidewalk and out of harm’s way. Your dog will be happy to bark along with you when they’re not in danger.
What other situations are there where you absolutely need to pay attention to your dog? Have you ever lost focus on your pup when it mattered? Let us know in the comments below!