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"Why has this become so difficult?" Dr Katrina Warren has 5 rules every dog owner should follow.

Dr Katrina Warren is sick and tired of dog owners not knowing the correct etiquette when it comes to their pets.

In an Instagram post in October, the TV vet - best known for co-hosting Harry's Practice - explained how she's baffled by the number of owners not putting their dog on a lead.

"Why has this become so difficult? Do people now buy a dog and forget to buy a lead?" she wrote.

"Your dog should be on a lead at cafes, walking on the footpath and at parks that are NOT designated off-leash. It’s for your dog's safety, as well as the safety of other dogs and people.

"I've witnessed some dangerous things with fights, knocked-down tables, terrified kids and boiling coffee going all directions, as well as timid dogs and puppies being terrified."

But that's not the only thing dog owners are getting wrong. We spoke to Dr Katrina to learn about five other "rules" dog owners should follow from the moment they get a puppy or adopt a dog.

Here's what you need to know.

1. Train your dog before you allow them to run off-leash in a park.

It might sound like a simple ask to train your dog before you take it for a run in the park, but according to Dr Katrina, more and more dog owners aren't doing it.

"These days, there seems to be this emphasis that it's more important to let your dog go out and play and have a social time over training," she said told Mamamia.

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"Playtime will tire out a puppy and people think that's fantastic, but they're not learning any skills or manners. And if people don't have a recall on their puppy in the park and it's in a fight or whatever..."

Yep, that might not end well.

Watch: The dogs are not okay. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

2. Don't allow your dog to say "hello".

If you let your dog wander up to other dogs to "just say hi", stop it. Immediately.

"You don't know the other dog," Dr Katrina said. 

"So, your dog might do that 10 times and it's okay with the dog that it says hello to, but on the next time, you might have someone that is very stressed because their dog is dog reactive and doesn't like other dogs."

"If you let your dog do that in that dog's face, you may have a big incident."

Here's what Dr Katrina suggests you do instead.

"You're much better off training your dog to have obedience and focus on you," she said. 

"So, when you're walking in the street, you're not stopping to say hello to everyone. [Instead] you can walk past the other dogs with no reaction."

3. Don't take your dog to the dog park unless they know the other dogs.

While dog parks seem like the most appropriate place to take your dog to tire them out and socialise, they are also one of the most common places for things to take a turn for the worst.

"I personally don't like off-leash dog parks. I don't let my dog run in an off-leash dog park with dogs I don't know," she said.

"If you know the dogs, or if you can get a feel for the dogs by talking to the owners, then absolutely let them run around. But sending them to play with dogs that you don't know can be very problematic. Particularly when you've got dogs of different sizes and ages all thrown together.

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"People need to understand that running in a group of dogs can go wrong very, very quickly," she said.

"Dog parks are fraught with danger because you have people that are standing around talking on their phone and they're not picking up the body language," Katrina continued.

"They often bring toys, as well, like balls, and dogs can be incredibly possessive over that. So, lots of fights start because of that."

4. Don't buy a retractable lead.

Many people with smaller dogs use retractable leads. They make walking the dog easy, allowing them to wander and sniff until the lead eventually stops. 

But there's a very good reason Dr Katrina doesn't like them.

"Being on a retractable lead is not teaching your dog to walk nicely on the lead. What you're allowing your dog to do is behave like it's off the lead, but it's got a restriction," she said.

"It's a lazy way of saying 'well, I'm going to let my dog do what it wants to do'."

Not only do they not teach your dog how to walk properly, but retractable leads can be dangerous.

"I know of more than one dog who has been on the retractable lead and it has run out and been killed by a car because they've managed to get onto the road. So, you're just increasing the opportunity for something dangerous," she said.

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There is only one situation where Dr Katrina understands the use of one.

"The only place for it is if you don't feel comfortable letting your dog off the lead," she said.

"[For example] you're on a walk, you're somewhere quiet with your dog, and you want to let it extend out a little bit, that I understand. 

"But there's [no] place for them walking around the street."

5. Don't let your dog play with sticks.

Lastly, if your dog loves to play fetch, Dr Katrina suggests playing with a ball, not a stick.

"Sticks can easily splinter and get caught in the mouth and throat of your dog and cause all sorts of problems," Dr Katrina said.

"And what [can] happen - which is a really common one that is dangerous - is people will throw a stick, the dog bounds towards it, the stick bounces off the ground or gets stuck in the ground, the dog will run at it and it gets impaled through the roof of his mouth.

"People don't want to believe it until they've experienced it. So you're better off going for something softer, like a rubber toy," she said.

No more sticks. Noted.

Feature image: Instagram/@drkatrina

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