Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's Time for Another Rant: Off-leash Dogs

::::Begin Rant:::::

I've blogged a fair bit about Zuko's on-leash growly behavior with some dogs and at Shibapalooza I started to get to the bottom of it (face-sniffing and rudeness). In general on our walks, things have been fine this summer.

The Prince
Gratuitous cute photo of Zuko

While Zuko is a confirmed Shibasquatch at a lake near our house and at the beach, he is on leash all other times. Recently on a walk back up from the lake, two very large dogs come bounding down the trail. These dogs were big - as in at least 70 pounds each. Zuko was on leash and there were no other humans in sight nor could I hear any walking / talking on the path up ahead.

Of course the dogs run up to Zuko. OF COURSE. I immediately get between him and the dogs, turning my back to them and moving to keep them away from Zuko (and watching Zuko's reaction). The dogs would not leave off and I had to keep this going for a couple of minutes before they lost interest and took off for the last leg of the path to the lake. Please note: still no other humans in sight / sound.

We walk on. A ways up the path I see two guys with leashes draped around the necks. I asked them if they had lost two big black dogs because they were down at the lake. The guys looked at me like I was speaking gibberish, grunted something and continued their conversation and their nice morning stroll to the lake. At the pace they were proceeding, they would arrive at the lake about 7-10 minutes after their dogs.

A lot can happen in ten minutes. I was furious, but I was also clear-headed enough to know that if I confronted them, it would make no difference.

The other recent incident was with a golden retriever. After big adventures on the beach, Zuko and I were coming to the top of the sand stairs. An off-leash golden was standing above us on the stairs in the "I challenge you" stance (as I call it, here it is called the "dominant" posture): tail slightly up, making eye-contact, stiff-legged posture. We had to pass him to get to the parking lot and of course - face sniffing happened. I tried to relax and ease Zuko away but I wasn't fast enough and massive snarling started on both sides and the golden began lunging and barking. I got between them (the owner is meanwhile calling his dog from down the stairs - no effect at all) and I even felt teeth on the back MY leg during all of this. Luckily I was in jeans and it wasn't even enough to leave a mark or bruise -- but the owner is damn lucky there wasn't more to it than that.

Again I stayed between the two and herded Zuko away from the situation. After calling the dog's name (Rusty) about 15 times, the owner got the dog's attention and Rusty took off.

Zuko's Shiba friend Sinjin has had recent issues with random dogs attacking him and drawing blood. I don't really understanding humans NEEDING to allow their dogs off-leash at all times, but if you NEED to allow your dog to run around to fulfill some inner need of your own for freedom, then do it responsively. Make sure your dog responds to your commands. Otherwise, you are a lawsuit waiting to happen. I happen to know a VERY good lawyer - she's a Twiba mom too. :-)

::::End of Rant::::

-- Posted by Zuko's mom


  1. We have a 15 month old shiba named Aki, and we have had a few incidents as well with other people allowing their dogs free reign of the neighborhood. We always keep Aki leashed and have spent a lot of time and expense to go through obedience classes so that she knows how to behave in public and have manners around other dogs and people. I supremely wish more owners felt the need to do the same.

  2. Off leash dog owners SUCK... I never realized how terrible it was to encounter until I fostered a reactive dog. I feel your pain :(

  3. Kaiju's kindergarten trainer wrote this post a while ago. I liked it. Really, please leash your dogs. There are people/kids who are afraid of dogs, to consider, too.

    We witnessed last weekend a bouncy happy off-leash golden retriever pee on a sleeping homeless man. It was in a park where dogs were not allowed off-leash. The owners stood there, watched it happen, and giggled. They did not bother acting (coming to grab the dog, to pull him away). After the golden was done, an Akita who was also off-leash went to the homeless guy, just to sniff. Thankfully, he didn't pee, but his owner also just stood there and watched, grinning. Sigh. It was almost depressing.

  4. Man, 'tis the season for off-leash inconsiderateness, isn't it? =( I feel like I've been hearing so many similar anecdotes lately. Sucks!

  5. I thought I'd share this link, too. The video in the main post is surely interesting, but a more hilarious idea is in the comments. Someone says throwing a poop bag (with poop in it) towards the charging dog works better than treats :D

  6. Thank you everyone for the support and nobuko - the article was awesome! I'm sensing a trend with goldens: "They are friendly and loveable!! They don't need training!!"

    What irritates me even more are the people who think I am cruel because Zuko is on leash most of the time. We use a flexi and I give him room to roam and sniff, but I also shorten the leash and lock it in busy areas, when on the sidewalk, crossing streets, etc. And frankly - I get tons of folks who see him on walks and say things like "what a happy dog!". So being on leash is not cruel.

    Oops...I think I started ranting again... :-)

  7. Goldens and labs, which are very prevalent around here, are always the crazy ones. "Oh, they are friendly." Yeah, well...what if my dog is not? Misaki will kick a dog's ass if she gets annoyed. (The nice thing about Shibas is if things start to get a little crazy, we can just pick her up - done that a couple times.) I wish people would realize that the "my dog is friendly" is a big bunch of crap. You know what? Mine might not be when another dog comes running up to her face. She may be very polite, may walk well on leash, but maybe she doesn't take crap. Our Akita was like that. She had dogs running up to her all the time she wanted to eat. And at 90 pounds and chiseled, we're just lucky I was barely strong enough to contain her from nibbling the neighbor's dogs. And the worst part about that? If she did, it would somehow be our fault and she'd be the one who ended up punished.

    Not sure if I've shared this with you before or not, but it's one of my first posts on my blog about this very thing.

    And you are so not cruel. That's exactly how we treat Misaki. We learned because of the Akita, having to be on the constant lookout because she was a big, badass dog. Now we do the same thing with the Shiba because she's the little one we need to protect. It's called good puppy parenting. :)

  8. @Jason: Yes, I remember your blog post - I commented on it back then and it all still rings true. You mention kids and I've been surprised how many people here in the Bay Area have really trained their kids to ask before petting a dog. It could be because we've had so many (and so very public) dog-maulings over the years, the parents here can't miss the memo. I always explain to try petting Zuko on the back and also explain that he will most likely back away - and that if he does, that is it. He doesn't want to be petted. The kids try, Zuko backs away, I apologize (the poor kids seem broken-hearted the dog rejected them) and keep going. Only a couple of times have we have a child get to Zuko before we could stop it and both times Zuko was trying like hell to get away. Still - Shibas have big teeth and if they graze you (even without being a "bite") they hurt like heck. So I prefer to avoid it altogether.

    Thanks for chiming in - everyone! I always say we Shibas have our Internet support groups and this proves that out. :-)

  9. So you did. :) I really should have checked those comments. :)

    Misaki, unlike many Shibas, loves kids. She is very patient, lets them pet her. I can't believe the number of them, though, who lean into her face first. Always a conundrum for me. Do I correct someone else's kid? Or ignore it? If they did that to Ruby they would have been missing face...

  10. Ugh man, it's "those dog owners" who have ruined stuff for the responsible ones.
    I do let Conker off-leash but only in secure areas or places I know and when no people are around. I leash him up for HIS safety, not yours, since he is scared of people and might run off. If other dogs come around, he goes back on the leash as well. He is never let off the leash in urban settings (except the front yard, he knows not to leave the grass.)
    I don't care how friendly your dog is, Conker sometimes isn't and he has gotten into arguments with dogs who bound over and get rude with him.
    Juneau WILL ATTACK dogs who do that, so when I get the "Don't worry, he's friendly!" When I have her I yell "Well mine IS NOT!" Amongst other nasty things.

    Back to the point I meant to talk about...
    Sometime in the past dogs used to be allowed in places like National Parks and such, the places I love to go. Well, they are allowed but not on the trails, which is why I go there in the first place.
    Since stupid down owners let their dogs chase wildlife, harass people and leave "gifts" all over the place, I can't enjoy some of my favorite places with Conker because of these idiots.

  11. @Losech - I've had to tell a number of people that Zuko is snarly on-leash because of the hated phrase "Don't worry, my dog is friendly!!" -- really I tend to want to say "bullshit" but instead I will either say "mine isn't" if I am in a bad mood or nicely say "mine can be a bit growly, that is why he is on leash". Funny how people get a different look on their face when they realize your dog might snack on their dog. :-)

    We are taking Zuko to Yosemite this fall. I was surprised dogs are still allowed on the paved trails. We are traveling with folks who aren't really hikers, so it should be good. I'll detail and post as we learn!

  12. i hate off leash dogs,, there's one incident on the beach during a shiba inu meet up when two pitbulls came running and attacked chloe, good thing no injuries were done, all of us shiba owners have their shibas leashed, and theyre small dogs, what more with those big pitbulls. sigh, really irresponsible owners. i hate it when this off leash dogs come running for my dogs and they'll be growling and snarling which is not good for their socialization traaining and makes it worse...

  13. @Magic: Agree! If the area is off-leash permitted, then I know it is my job to watch my on-leash dog. However, almost ALL parks are on-leash. Again, bad / irresponsible owners.

  14. I HATE IT WHEN people KNOW they have reactive dogs and still let them "hang out" in front of their house off leash. When I take Bea walking, there is this house with a chihuahua...UGH...this chihuahua is crazy!!! She would run after Bea and just start attacking, snarling and growling! Bea and I were caught by surprise but I was able to pick Bea up and run away. The owner just yelled come back (the chihuahua paid no heed). After that, we walked on the other side of the street, the chihuahua would start running after us. Sometimes, I just want "accidentally" let the leash go so that Bea could eat her. Ugh, I think that is why now Bea is so growly at female dogs (when she is) on leash when they growl, snarl or try to sniff her butt!