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“Don’t Worry, He’s Friendly!”

Imagine a dog and her owner taking a walk, minding their own business. Suddenly, an off leash dog is headed straight for them. If they can even see the dog’s owner, requests to have the owner recall the advancing dog are often met with that most awful of phrases, “Don’t worry, he’s friendly.” Sometimes, the owner does try to recall the dog, often without success, and almost certainly with no thought whatsoever that the leashed dog may not be.

Interestingly, confrontations such as this often play out in jurisdictions where leashes are mandatory. Yet, owners of off leash dogs still sometimes chastise their law-abiding counterparts as if accepting the unwanted advances of their out of control dogs should be acceptable. (It’s not.) Fearful dogs and reactive dogs have enough challenges without others adding to their problems in areas where they should be protected by the leash law.

I’m going out on a limb here to say that anyone who cannot confidently bet $50 that their dog will come when called away from another dog, has no business allowing that dog to have off leash freedom. Recently, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a man in his 80’s was knocked down by two exuberant Boxers while walking on the beach. These dogs already have a reputation for being out of control, but even if they were first offenders, no matter. Massachusetts is a “strict liability” state, so even if the dogs were legally off leash, the owner is still responsible for their actions. If the owner is found, he or she will undoubtedly be responsible for the man’s medical bill.

There are many great resources to help teach a solid recall. Check out the “bacon recall” on YouTube. Also, see Leslie Nelson’s “Really Reliable Recall” and Pamela Dennison’s “Whistle Recall.”

Even if you are in an off leash designated area, you have an obligation not to allow your dog to interact with dogs that reject his overtures. Not all dogs like one another, or appreciate each other’s play styles. No one likes a playground bully. If your dog is that “over the top” sort, best to find a couple of compatible dogs that do like him and set up playdates of a less public nature. Conversely, if your dog is shy, or always growling or snapping at dogs that approach, then the dog park or day care may not be the right venue for exercise.

If you are the owner of a fearful or reactive dog, and are observing local laws, yet still being approached by the dogs of scofflaws, do report this to your local Animal Control Officer. If you can safely do so, film or take pictures of the offenders. Carry a repellent product, such as Spray Shield, in the event that the oncoming dog is not listening to its owner, or is unaccompanied by a human. Your dog deserves not to have his or her personal space invaded without your consent.

About pawsforpraise

I own and operate Paws for Praise. We offer group dog training classes and behavior consultations in a dog and human friendly environment. We think training should be fun for you and your dog. Go ahead - make a tail wag!

3 responses »

  1. Thank out for posting this. We had a beautiful 60 pound husky (rescue) who simply did not like other dogs. We took her everywhere always on a leash (and it is the law in this state). Once in a park a little 3 pound dog came running up to our Husky yapping and yapping while I’m holding my dog so it doesn’t go after the little yapper. A minute later this lady is yelling “It’s okay, it’s okay he is friendly!’ This dog is literally jumping at my dog, my. Wife manages to pull the offending dog of ours and explains that our dog is not dog friendly and she needs to keep her dog on a leash. This woman started yelling at us that we shouldn’t have a dog like ours out in public if she isn’t friendly. I’m telling her our dog is the one under control and on a leash, it’s her dog that is out of control and offleash when leashes are manditory and pointed at the sign. She never got it, she walked away telling us how irresponsible we were.

  2. Very good advice. This is another very good article on this topic.

    This is a serious problem…many dog owners make light of it, saying ” this is my dogs way of socializing.” It is not and shouldn’t be. Others, with and without dog companions, have a right to not be accosted by unleashed and unruly dogs.

  3. Pingback: A Positive Connection

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