You’re out walking your pup, enjoying the cool evening after a long hot day at the office. All of the sudden a dog, unleashed, comes running over to you. Clearly he is friendly, wiggling his butt in hopes to engage your pooch in some playtime. But, your dog is dog aggressive. In spite of all your attempts at working on overcoming his issues, he doesn’t get along with all dogs, especially balls of high-energy canines that come out of nowhere.
You hear an exasperated voice shouting “Bailey” while gasping for air. He sees you and yells, “He’s friendly, he’ll be fine.” And you know it’s anything but fine. You respond with, “Please get your dog, my dog may bite.” And once again, you hear, “It’s fine, Bailey’s friendly.”
Not sure you can handle keeping your collie/retriever/boxer mix Jake under control much longer, you reply yet again “My dog is not friendly. Please get your dog!” In no hurry, Bailey’s owner comes over while your Jake is lunging, growling and carrying on. Bailey isn’t concerned and neither is his owner. You know all too well that this could end in disaster. Finally, Bailey is yanked by the collar but Jake is still on guard. You shout one final attempt to make clear how dangerous the situation is. “Please put your dog on a leash. Not all dogs are friendly and mine WILL bite!” Bailey’s owner gives you a hard stare as he drags his dog back home.
Once near his property, he releases his grip, and Bailey turns and runs right back to you and Jake. With a louder and even sterner tone, you shout at the top of your lungs “Come and get your dog. I cannot stop my dog from attacking!” As Jake‘s strength outdoes your own. There’s not much more you can do to stop this dogfight from happening. Once again, Bailey’s owner grabs him by the collar and you’ve lost it. “What is wrong with you? I told you my dog is NOT friendly! I’ve asked you to come and get your dog! Put him on a leash! There is a leash law. I should call the police and report you!”
Bailey’s owner turns and heads back home. No apologies. No understanding of what he has just put you and your dog through. Your heart is racing. You are full of anger over what just happened. How can people not understand? You warned this person that your dog is not friendly and will bite. What doesn’t he get? So what if his dog is friendly?
As a dog owner who has a pooch who doesn’t get along with all dogs, and as a professional pet sitter, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in this situation. It’s scary. It’s not fair. And it’s happening too many times. Sure, wouldn’t it be great if all dogs were agreeable and easy going? Dogs like my Kita aren’t aggressive. She just doesn’t like happy, wiggly ones that come out of nowhere and approach her at 50 mph. At least she’s small enough I can pick her up and hold her out of harm’s way. No, she’s never bitten, but she’s threatened to and one day, she just might. Then whose fault will it be? Not mine, yet I’m sure I’ll be blamed.
There are leash laws for a reason. With the popularity of dog parks and invisible fences, more and more dogs are allowed to run free. Owners think nothing of it. After all, their happy go lucky Golden Retriever wouldn’t hurt a fly, let alone another dog. Wonderful. Kudos to you for raising such a well-behaved canine.
But what about the dogs who early in life suffered in bad situations and were rescued? What about dogs who simply were born unable to tolerate other canines in their presence? What about the dogs like Kita, who weren’t socialized properly at an early age, but fortunately end up in good homes with owners who conscientiously work on training to change the way they react to dogs?
Be considerate. Obey the laws. Keep your dog on a leash. Always. Even in your own yard.
And when someone tells you that his dog is not friendly - believe it.
It's for your dog's safety as well as your own.