Dogs Off Leash but Not Under Control: Many people these days are too complacent and have a “She’ll be right attitude”.
There is nothing wrong, with having your dog off lead but your dog should remain under your supervision and control at all times. In other words, dog owners should have their “Eyes Wide Open” all the time and be aware of their surroundings as well as having their dog in plain sight.
If you don’t have a rock solid recall on your dog, it shouldn’t be off lead.
Every second person I talk to, these days has a story to tell, of a bad experience they have had, while out walking with their dog. I too have experienced off leash dogs come running up out of nowhere, while I have been out training. The incidents of dog attacks and dog bites are on the increase world wide.
You would think with all the information available via the internet, books, education programs etc on dog safety the number of dog attacks and bites would be decreasing but they are not.
Through my own observations and from what people tell me on a regular basis. I personally believe, many people these days are too complacent and have a “She’ll be right attitude”.
Dogs are dogs not substitute human children, they are great to have around and they are lot of fun but they all have the potential to harm. All too often human expectations are too high, after all they are a different species.
Whether it is at a dog park, beach, or anywhere else, for that matter. Taking your dog for a walk should be a joy not a chore. You and your dog, shouldn’t have to put up with being harassed, startled, frightened or intimidated by someone elses dog or their owner.
“Its ok, my dog is friendly” seems to be a commonly used phrase these days, by dog owners who have little or no control of their dogs, when exercising them off lead. They think its ok for their dog to randomly run up to other people and their dogs.
As people we don’t take kindly to a stranger invading our personal space and staring us in the face, so why is it ok for a strange dog to do it to another dog? That’s how dogs challenge each other to fight. The act in its self, is considered threatening behaviour. Dogs naturally don’t greet each other in this way.
So Stand up and protect your dog, show your dog you have control of the situation, step in front of your dog and stop that strange dog from approaching. If necessary yell at it and don’t be afraid to tell the owner if they are there, to leash their dog.
Dog owners also have to be mindful, that not all people like dogs, they maybe scared or frightened of them, so that is another very good reason for having your dog under control at all times.
Cyclists and Joggers who exercise their dogs by letting them run free while they are biking or running, also need to keep their “Eyes Wide Open” and be aware of where their dog is and what it is doing at all times.
While your dog may listen to you, on a one to one basis, it may not, if distracted by another dog that is unleashed or not under control of its owners. If you don’t have good recall on your dog, use a long-line. They are a great way of exercising your dog, while still having it under control.
The Dog Control Act clearly states, as a dog owner you are responsible for anything your dog does in a public place such as: your dog rushing at people, animals or vehicles, causing injury, endangerment, harassment, etc and are liable upon conviction, of a fine of up to $3,000.
A few basic common sense manners would go a long way, to alleviating some of the above issues as well as helping to prevent, behaviour problems in dogs. Which often arise due to the bad experiences they have been exposed to.
1) If you haven’t got a rock solid recall on your dog, don’t have it off leash. Use a long-line.
2) If you see someone coming towards you, walking their dog and your dog is off leash, leash your dog.
3) Don’t go walking your dog without a leash, grabbing it by the collar isn’t an effective means of control
4) If your dog is dog aggressive, don’t let it off the leash and if necessary muzzle your dog
5) Take some time to read, Socialising your Dog, the Right Way When is a Dog Park not a Dog Park? When its a Public Park
6) Keep your eyes wide open be aware of your surroundings, and what is going on around you and your dog.
7) Contact your local Dog Control. They don’t know if you don’t tell them. if you have a problem with any dog or their owner. Most people these days carry a camera phone, so don’t be afraid of taking a photo of the dog & owner or if you can a photo of their vehicle number plate.
ZeroBites Dog Training
November 19, 2012 at 12:41 am
I really appreciate your reasonable approach to this topic. Too often, discussions about out-of-control dogs are dominated by people who think dogs should never ever be off leash, no matter how well trained, and people who think it’s fine to let their dogs do whatever they want, invade other people’s personal space, and cause trouble. Your attitude- fine to have dogs off leash if they are under control- is a sensible one.
November 19, 2012 at 10:42 am
Thank you for your comments, I try and see things from both sides. Unfortunately, There are alot of irresponsible people out there who spoil it for everyone else. I see the aftermath, re dogs with behaviour problems and traumatised owners. I have to try and build them both back up so they can get their confidence back. If something really bad happens, it gets reported in the news. I wrote the article because its getting quite bad in NZ. A common sense approach and a few basic manners, would go along way to making things alot better.
October 6, 2018 at 12:38 am
If you can’t run as fast as your dog you DON’T have it “under control”. No matter how “widely you open your eyes”. Dogs simply dont have the impulse control of humans. It will only obey you as long as its in the dogs interest to do so. Running after him screaming wont cut it. Leash him in public at ALL times. Its the law
No its not. If not in a designated off leash area, t’s illegal.
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January 10, 2013 at 2:00 am
Fairly insightful post. Never thought that it was this simple after all. I had spent a good deal of my time looking for someone to explain this topic clearly and you’re the only one that ever did that. Kudos to you! Keep it up
January 11, 2013 at 5:30 am
Thank you for your comments, much appreciated, I try to keep things simple but still get the message out.
March 25, 2013 at 12:58 am
Thank you for this article! I totally agree with you! I just wrote a letter to our local paper on this very topic. We have two dogs – one small and friendly, one medium size who we recently rescued from a hoarding situation (he was one of 149 dogs). He is very reactive to strange dogs and we walk both dogs on leash. (We have hired a qualified trainer to help us socialize him as much as he can be socialized.) Our city has a leash law, but almost all dogs are walked/exercised off-leash. It’s a known problem. Anyway, on today’s hike all the dog owners were great – they leashed their dogs when they saw us and controlled their dogs as we passed them, sometimes either they or we stepped off the trail as the other passed. There was one exception – a woman with 4 very large dogs who did not come when she called them. They ran 50 yards, en masse, to “greet” our reactive dog. My husband was able to pick our dog up and remove him from the situation. I had some not-very-pleasant words with the woman. She didn’t get it. So I had to write the letter. And I shared some of your advice. I made sure to say that my concern wasn’t about the leash law, but about having dogs under control…and what that actually means.
May 11, 2013 at 11:09 am
Thank you for your comments, much appreciated. I too still meet people who just don’t get it. If that happens to you again, which I hope it doesn’t, you could try shouting at the dog, often they will run the other way. I had to do that a couple of weeks ago again. I stopped the dog from coming over to where my client and I were, it took the owner of this dog, 3 go’s to call it back. I wish you and your dog well and hope the trainer you have hired can help you. I have just started urban agility classes overhere, something like that may help your dog. All the best Elayne.
March 1, 2014 at 1:42 am
I do not agree with your statement that it is ok to have your dog off leash if it is under your voice control only because in my experience, EVERYONE THINKS THEIR DOG IS UNDER THEIR VOICE CONTROL even when clearly THEY ARE NOT. I have friends who allow their dogs off their leash all the time and the dog will never come when it is called! These two dogs have subsequently had to be put down because they kept attacking other animals and their owners just make excuses for their behaviour like they had been traumatised or something similar. It took a few attacks for them to be eventually put down as well. You would think the owners would have learnt to be careful and keep their dogs leashed but they didn’t and I feel it was completely their fault that the dogs had to be put down! That is why I think when dogs are not at home, they should be leashed because a lot of owners are idiots and cannot be trusted to have trained their dogs properly. I am saying this because that’s what I see! I have been attacked by a dog and constantly having to fend them off from rushing at me and jumping all over me, head in crotch etc and generally being a nuisance whilst their owner just looks on even I am always looking distressed and uncomfortable. Please take note dog owners!
October 30, 2014 at 8:45 am
I let my dog of leashe in the park and he listens and has good recall but a lady that Ive seen before with her poodle witch is also of leash called him and petted him and after he started following her idk how far he could have gone if i didnt call…why!?
October 30, 2014 at 8:47 am
Why would he go with her?
Zerobites Dog Training
October 30, 2014 at 11:47 pm
I have had that happen to me, dogs come up to say hello then want to follow me. Some dogs are just too friendly and trusting which is not always a good thing.
She may have been carrying food plus she had her dog with her. He may have thought being with her and her dog was more exciting to him than being with you. It was good that you went and got him. I often say to people you have to be more exciting and fun than that dog or person over the other side of the park. In other words you have to get your dog focusing on you, What motivates your dog is it games, toys, canine parkour etc Good idea for you to practice in the park maybe have your dog on a long line.
October 8, 2015 at 6:54 pm
Thank you very much for this article. We had a not very nice experience this afternoon when we were walking our two dogs. We are extremely careful with our dogs when out walking. They are friendly but we always have them on a leash. A shorter one when there are lots of other people and dogs around and a very long extendable one when it is quieter or where there are large open spaces. This afternoon a very large dog came bounding up totally terrifying our dogs. My husband shouted for the owner to please call their dog off. The owner was too busy chatting to even know what was happening. The owners response was extremely rude and she shouted that my husband must be deaf as she was trying to call the dog back. I told her she should not have a dog she could not control off its lead and she told me to shut up. Charming! A few heated words were exchanged and what had been a pleasant walk was ruined. It has really upset me. Owning dogs is so lovely it’s such a shame that some people cannot be more responsible. I found this article when we came home and it made me feel better but shocked at how common this problem is.
Zerobites Dog Training
October 8, 2015 at 7:22 pm
Hi Kaycee, thanks for your message, I am sorry you, your husband and dogs had to experience that. unfortunately it seems to be getting worse. Many dogs owners are just too complacent and don’t give a toss. I too have had heated words on many occasions with dog owners who have no control of their off leash dogs. I have had to start teaching people how to defend themselves and their dogs, from the unwanted attention, of off leash dogs. I have 4 clients at the moment who’s dogs have been attacked by off-leash dogs. My clients dogs where all leashed so now I have 4 people with dog aggressive dogs because they were attacked. When you go out again, take some biscuits or something tasty with you, its not for your dogs, its for any off- leash dogs you meet, that you have a problem with. Now keep in mind this doesn’t work on all dogs, throw the biscuits at the off-leash dog, don’t stop walking, if necessary turn around and go back the way you came. I would say 80% of dogs will stop and smell or eat the biscuits, this can buy you a bit of time to get away. The other thing you can do, again doesn’t work on all dogs, is to take a water pistol with you, filled with vinegar and water and spray that at the dog. These people who don’t have any control of their dogs I think don’t realise they are legally responsible for the actions of their dog. I would also suggest if you have your mob with you to take a photo, of the dog/owner also if you know where their car is, take a photo of the license plate. Then ring up your local animal control and report the incident. Even if you don’t get a photo, report the incident anyway. I tell my clients to do that. I hope you don’t have any more issues with off leash dogs. Take care, Elayne.
October 8, 2015 at 7:43 pm
Thank you so much Elayne for your reply and for such sound advice. I am going to learn so much from your website. It is on my favourite list and I will be referring to it a lot for tips and advice and learning as much as I can. You have made me feel so much better now and I really, really appreciate it. Thanks again. Best wishes Kim
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April 28, 2016 at 2:21 pm
Nice Article, I found this article when we came from office to home and it made me great relax but i am shocked at how common this problem made
Zerobites Dog Training
April 29, 2016 at 10:49 am
Hi, thank you, and yes it seems to be getting worse, human complacency and a “she’ll be right attitude, as well as people looking but not seeing is a recipe for disaster. I am now having to teach people how to protect themselves and their dogs, when they go out walking from unwanted attention from off-leash dogs. Not the dogs fault but the owners. Who seem to be oblivious to the problems their dog can cause.