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.