Be a responsible owner – Keep your dog contained!

It’s cold outside. I know it’s December, but this cold seems to have been thrown at us practically overnight and I’m ready for summer to come back. It wouldn’t be all that bad, but being in an apartment with three large dogs is a lot less fun when it is in the single digits and nobody seems to want to do their business quickly. Snow angels are so much more fun.

For the past two nights, a dog from a nearby neighborhood has been jumping through a hole in their yard’s fence and coming over to ‘play’ with my dogs during our frigid potty outings. I can see into his backyard, and the first time it happened the owner popped out about five minutes later looking for him. She screamed at him to come home once she realized I was struggling keeping him off of my dog… and then went back inside without so much as an ‘I’m sorry my dog just disturbed your dog’s pee break!’. Fortunately, my two are pretty friendly (although Versailles can be quite the vocal brat with new dogs) and so we have not any incidents thus far. My foster, however, can be pretty bossy while on-leash. We haven’t met this neighbor dog yet and so I cannot speak for how she will respond to being pounced on by a stranger.

This leads me to the point of this post – why should it be my responsibility to worry about the behavior of my on-leash pets when we are rushed by a strange dog? Leash manners and socialization are important, and I do not mean to downplay them. Still, why do some dog owners not understand the rudeness of letting their off-leash dogs run up on strangers and their pets? It is one thing to accidentally let go of the leash, or to not notice that the dog is able to escape and correct the situation. Two nights in a row, however, tells me that these neighbors simply do not care about, or are completely ignorant to, their dog’s whereabouts and are less than concerned about him receiving any damage from an aggressive dog (or an abusive person, or a coyote, or poisonous materials left outside, etc). A vigilant dog owner would fix their fence once the problem is discovered or, at the very least, monitor their dog while it is outside. This evening I was half tempted to bring the pup inside for the night in hopes that his owners would realize how easy it would be for him to end up missing. Instead, I took the time to walk him back to his backyard and tell him to ‘go home’, which he did.

It is your responsibility to keep your dog safe from harm, and to keep other people from being inconvenienced by your animal. Dog fights and fear bites can happen so quickly. It is not only unfair on the person who is bombarded by the strange dog, it is unfair on the dog who is put at risk by being allowed to participate in risky situations without supervision. If your dog keeps escaping, monitor him outside and then bring him back in until a solution can be reached. Keep him on leash in public and introduce him to other dogs only once you have received the owner’s permission. Simply yelling ‘Don’t worry, he’s friendly!’ is not fair to those of us who have an aggressive dog out walking on a leash. Following simple dog ownership manners goes a long way for everybody involved and we all greatly appreciate it.

6 thoughts on “Be a responsible owner – Keep your dog contained!

  1. I totally agree. Dog owners need to accept a few protocols. Yelling out “mine only wants to play” is not good enough. You might not want the dog to play, or your dog might not be able to cope with the approach. If your on-lead dog retaliates to provocation by another dog rushing up, guess who will be held responsible for any damage done?


    1. Exactly! It is a very irritating situation. I own strong dogs and would feel terrible if they did start a scuffle on leash since that is when they are their most defensive. There are plenty of off-leash parks for that kind of introduction.


      1. I had a very bad experience once. A client called me after her medium-sized dog, who was on-lead, standing still in a park, was rushed at by three LWDs (little white dogs) who were off-lead, and really got in her face. She grabbed one of them in her mouth, shook it and then dropped it. Unfortunately, the little dog died from internal injuries. Obviously, this is not good, as the dog did not have good bite inhibition. The grab, although brief, must have had considerable force.

        These three little dogs were often off-lead, including in the street where my client lived, just a few houses away from the entrance to the park. They would run out of the park and up my client’s driveway, where they would rush at the fence and bark at the dog who was behind the fence, in her back yard. So my client’s dog was used to being harassed by these three. This may be why she finally lashed out.

        My client was horrified at the incident and paid the other owner’s vet bills. She was still charged with having a dangerous dog, which under our legislation is very onerous.

        At the hearing, the chairperson conceded that she was a responsible dog owner, and that the other owner had been at fault. However, she asked the veterinary behaviourist who was an expert witness, whether he could guarantee that if the dog was tied up outside a shop, and a child rushed up and “got in her face”, the dog would not bite the child. Of course, he had to say no, he could not guarantee that. Of course he couldn’t. No-one can ever guarantee that a dog will not bite under certain circumstances. However, the dog had never shown any sign of aggression towards humans. As a result of that answer, the dog was declared dangerous. On those grounds, every dog in the country could be declared dangerous, without having done anything.


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