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An Off Leash Dog Ruined My Life: A Service Dog’s Story

Service Dogs need space to work. But they’re not getting it from us. Turns out, off-leash dogs and dogs on retractable leashes, not to mention humans with no boundaries, are an epidemic for people who depend on Service Dogs.

The intrusions range from minor (people who want to pet their Service Dogs) to major (losing their balance and falling when their Service Dog gets chased by a dog on a retractable leash).

And then there are life altering encounters.  Attacked by a “friendly” off-leash dog, Kristel and her Service Dog, Murphy, had their world turned upside down in a single moment.

This is their story:

“Murphy has been prepared for service work since he was a young puppy. He was well-socialized and exposed to all manner of weirdness from the time he was about nine weeks old. He went to puppy-kindergarten, met lots and lots of new people and had a group of dog-friends with great social skills. He was easy to train, well-mannered and confident. He got through his basic training, public-access training and task-specific training without a hitch.

When he was about three and his training was complete, our family decided to move into town (we had previously lived in a rural area). The adjustment was challenging for all of us, but after about two weeks or so, we settled into a routine and Murphy continued to perform his job flawlessly.

One morning we were walking on the local bike path just for recreation and exercise, and we had a 30 second encounter that made our lives hell for the next two years.

It had always been my habit to stay in areas that prohibited loose dogs and to choose Murphy’s playmates carefully because of the importance of his work and the need to keep him physically and psychologically healthy and sound.

There was a clearly posted leash ordinance on the path. Even so, out of nowhere a loose dog came running toward us, his owner, about twenty feet behind shouting “He’s friendly!” in the usual manner of those who believe they are exempt from the leash laws.

The dog wasn’t friendly at all. He went straight for Murphy’s neck without making a sound. I had to kick him repeatedly to get him to let go, and even then he kept trying to latch on. The owner yelled at me to stop kicking his dog. I promised that I would the moment he had regained control of him. I was so angry to be put in a position to hurt an animal, but I would do it again to protect my dog. The owner finally arrived and grabbed his dog by the collar. He wasn’t even carrying a leash.

The owner wanted my name in case his dog had broken ribs. I agreed that an exchange of information was a great idea, so I would have all the information I needed when I called the police to report the incident. The guy just shook his head and said “I don’t get it, he’s so good with the kids”, and he walked away without either of us getting any info at all.

Thirty seconds of a pet owner’s bad judgement, that’s all it took. After the encounter Murphy became profoundly leash-reactive to other dogs.

This is a dog I depend on to live my life and get through my day, and now he would come completely unglued at the sight of another dog.

To say I had no life at all during Murphy’s TWO YEAR rehab is an understatement. I couldn’t work, it cost me hundreds of dollars in training and equipment, and I had to watch my previously confident and happy-go-lucky dog struggle just to be in proximity to his own kind. Years of work, years of careful exposure, years of my life shot to hell in thirty seconds.

We are ‘out-the-other-side’ now for the most part. Murphy is back to work and can handle most situations with other dogs again. He’s never going to be okay with a strange dog in his face, but I can live with that.

I appreciate your efforts to educate the public, so much. If people would just obey leash laws it would be HUGE. Any dog could be a service dog, just out for a walk; you never know. And it shouldn’t matter. Each of us should have the right to decide how we socialize our dogs and not have that decision made for us.  Thank you for calling so much attention to an issue that is not only relevant to many, but life-altering for some of us.” – Kristel S.

Devastating, isn’t it?

Leash laws exist for this reason. If you allow your dog to run loose, in a designated on-leash area, you’re making a choice that could profoundly impact the lives of those around you.

Leash laws are not optional.

If you think it’s oppressive, being required to use a leash: it’s not. If you think you’re the exception to the leash law, because your dog is friendly: you’re not. This is bigger than you and your dog.

People who depend on their Service Dogs for their lives should not be harassed, chased, intruded upon, or attacked because other people believe that the rules don’t apply to them or because they’re too ignorant or irresponsible to control themselves or their dogs.

All of us, whether we have service dogs or not, deserve to live in a safe, respectful environment. We can create that type of community by thinking about the consequences – unintended or not – of our actions and commit to not making poor choices or assumptions that could cost a dog or person their entire quality of life.

It’s time to leash up and give dogs some space. No more excuses.


Want to learn more about Service Dog Etiquette? Visit Please Don’t Pet Me

Do you have a DINOS (Dog in Need of Space)™ ? Join us on Facebook!

If you’d like to read more from Kristel, please check out her new blog: The Lighter Side of Darkness

Be responsible, respectful, and ask first!


  1. Jen #

    Thankfully, I’ve never had an encounter that was that bad with another dog. But it surprises me, daily, how ignorant people seem to be about their own dog’s body language and behavior. The fact that the dog attacked silently (and this is pure speculation on my part) makes me wonder if he was always uncomfortable around dogs, but the growling got punished out of him.

    Leash laws are not in place to “oppress” people and their dogs. They are for the dogs’ safety, and really, to protect the general public (and their dogs) from situations like this one. If your area, like mine, has no designated area where dogs can be off-leash, make friends with somebody who has a fenced yard. Don’t just decide the law couldn’t possibly apply to you.

    I’m glad that Murphy has been worked with, and seems to be able to work again. Poor guy 😦

    January 4, 2012
    • Harlie #

      Just a note: An actual attack rarely has any sound from the attacker, much like a wolf or other predator stays quiet to sneak up on its prey. If you see a dog staring intently at something, still and quiet, it wants to rip it to shreds. Growls are warnings to stay away, not of intent.

      January 5, 2012
      • Marie Moore #

        You are so right, I never heard the German Shepherd that attacked and bit me. Since then I am so afraid to walk anywhere I might encounter a dog off leash or on those stupid leases. Glad the working dog is getting over the attack.

        March 4, 2014
    • cxp #

      sorry folks but I am going to have to offer a different opinion on this…let me start with one simple question…what was the true root cause of the very unfortunate encounter…keyword being “root”…it wasn’t that the owner had no leash, it was that the owner didn’t know his own dog and therefore it attacked a defenseless animal. There are many problems with leash laws, the first being cruelty to the dog species. Many people forget that dogs are animals and require high levels of exercise throughout their short life to be happy and fulfilled. Statewide leash laws make it practically impossible anymore to achieve this. By confining a dog to a leash is the same as putting them in a cage for their entire life. Just think how you would feel if someone told you you were confined to your house and that you could NEVER move any faster then a slow trot FOREVER….cruel and unusual right. Although the incident above was unfortunate, it is extremely important that we focus on the true root cause to correct it. People need to be educated about dog breeds, tendencies and most importantly proper training. If your dog has a tendency to show any type of aggression then a muzzle and leash are required, but it shouldn’t ruin the efforts of good folks with properly bred and trained dogs not allowing their dogs to be the species they are. Now if that wasn’t a convincing argument enough let me end with a couple thoughts. How many times have you heard of a dog pulling out of the owner’s leash control and biting another? Then how come no muzzle laws? Will the next law be no dogs outside of the house? How many times have you seen a dog on a retractable leash stretch it beyond control of the owner to get to another dog it wanted to greet? Shame on leash laws…focus on dog owners and training to truly solve this problem.

      February 9, 2012
      • Yes, owners need to take more responsibility for their dogs, but leashes are still the most reliable tool for keeping the most dogs (and people) safe. It’s almost impossible to monitor and enforce dog training or dog knowledge, but it’s easy and affordable to require the use of leashes and takes little skill on the part of the owners. They don’t always work all the time, but leashes are the quickest, most effective route towards safe interactions, where the most amount of dogs are under control (regardless of their owner’s training skills).

        Sorry, but putting a dog on a leash isn’t anywhere close to locking it in a house all day and it’s not cruel. As a former shelter worker, having seen real cruelty, I think that’s so ridiculous. Beating your dog, chaining them outside all day, starving them, denying them medical care – that’s cruel. Exercising them on leash is responsible ownership. And if you need to exercise your dog (who is so good with dogs and so “properly bred” that they don’t need to be leashed), you can take them to an off leash dog park to run. Or play with them in your own yard or hit the off leash beaches and trails. Take your pick. But on crowded streets and neighborhoods – or anywhere with a leash law – leash your dog. No big deal. If you want to exercise them on leash, and walking at a brisk pace isn’t enough, take up jogging or rollerblading. And we covered retractable leashes here too:

        February 9, 2012
        • L. Waddell #

          Cxp, NFADW is absolutely correct in her reply, a dog owner thinking that their animal NEEDS to be off leash does not get to supercede the rights and safety off other animals and no dog is being cruelly treated if it has to stay on a leash.
          That being said, even the best trained animals can slip up, and while they may be domesticated pets, dogs are still predatory animals that can and will act like the animals they are.
          If you want something 100% reliable of leash, get something with a battery, not a pulse.

          August 21, 2012
        • Charlie #

          Dogs have teeth and all are capable of causing injury. Period. It does not matter how well trained a dog may be; it does not matter how well behaved a pet is with its family – they can and do react unexpectedly and without being provoked. A leash is not 100% – but will help the owner control their dog and hopefully prevent another dog or person from injury. I personally will do whatever it takes to keep my dogs safe and will sue the irresponsible pet owner in heartbeat for any injuries. My dogs are leashed before the door opens so they cannot dart out and interfere with someone else walking down our street with their pet. We have been attacked numerous times just walking down our own street due to ignorant owners who open the door and let their fido out without a leash. In regards to exercise, walks are not a sole source of exercise. We play fetch indoors or in the back yard (depends on weather) and my dogs love it. Oh, and I have to add that the dogs that have attacked on my street – their owners are with law enforcement. The dogs are not police K-9’s or trained…just your average dogs who are not so well behaved.

          April 4, 2013
      • cxp I’m kind of with you on this one. Among my dogs I have a Border Collie that I wouldn’t allow off leash in a new place as he is fear aggressive, and a big dog that is used at classes to calm other dogs. I would trust him off leash anywhere because he has natural “good dog manners” and wouldn’t approach another dog uninvited. Fortunately we live in a place where there are very few restrictions so I can exercise all my dogs on natural terrain, but I still manage their exercise and behaviour to suit their temperaments. I don’t believe it is about breeding though, fundamentally it is about socialization and training. Saying that my big dog taught me what it should look like, and I have taught the other dogs how to emulate the natural calming signals that he knew and I guess was born with. I would agree that this incident wasn’t about leashes, it was about an owner who didn’t have a clue about his dog.

        May 15, 2012
      • NUNYA #

        leash laws are in place because of uneducated idiots who think the laws don’t apply to them or thier dogs! like this CXP fool! i hope someday an off-leash dog tears up one of your “CXP” children, so you can understand the pain caused by an attack on an animal the another human’s very life depends upon. people like that deserve to drug down a dirt road with a chain around thier neck until either thier head pops off, or they become cheerful, which ever comes first!

        April 28, 2013
        • Wishing dog attacks on others and advocating murder through torture is hardly appropriate regardless of their advocacy.

          April 29, 2013
      • Rose Jones #

        And have you ever noticed that when someone’s big unleashed dog scares the crap out of that they NEVER apologize – they just act like you’re out of line for reacting to the situation? My solution is to help the irresponsible owners by training their dogs for them. Mace in the face has given neighborhood dogs a new respect for my space on the public street and is also quite effective on owners who decide to get ugly about it.

        July 2, 2013
        • Viviphin #

          Wow, Rose Jones, talk about “getting ugly about it.” I’ll assume you meant “scares the crap out of YOU,” although you left the critically important direct object of your rant blank. The key word you DO use correctly is “public street,” so kudos for understanding that you do not own, nor can you exclusively decide, how members of the public choose to legally employ said space.

          If another person’s legal employment of the public sidewalk or street (as in LEASHED) “scares the crap out of you,” why would you necessarily be entitled to an apology, much less be justified in using brute force?!

          Advocating such violence against dogs and/or other humans is beyond offensive. I honestly hope you live in a very rural area with limited exposure to your fellow human beings.

          July 18, 2013
          • Rose said “unleashed”, so her response (to protect herself) seems pretty reasonable, given that this is a blog about people who break the law and cause others harm. Nothing legal about that!

            July 18, 2013
      • If you want your dog to be “off leash” take it to the dog park. Leash laws are meant to protect the public and other dogs whose owners obey the leash laws. My daughters two Yorkshire Terriers were constantly threatened by a pit mix who’s owner lives in the same cul-de-sac and he would let his dog loose because he’s too lazy to walk it on a leash. We only walk our dogs on our property. The pit mix would run on our property and go after them. When we complained numerous time to animal control, they would arrive 24 to 48 hours later and state “dog was not loose.” We finally got a new head of animal control and they were cited. You have no idea what might tick off your dog and anyone who can guarantee the behavior of their dog is kidding themselves. If you think it’s inhumane to have leash laws, then don’t get a dog.

        March 5, 2014
      • Dawn #

        So you are one of the problem people then… How about the rights of people that are afraid of dogs? They should be confined to their homes forever so that your pooch can walk off leash wherever you deem appropriate? How’s about I take my pet tarantula or rat and shove it in your face and demand you to love and accept it touching and climbing all over you? That’s what ignorant dog owners who don’t leash their dogs do to people who are afraid of dogs.

        March 6, 2014
      • Cindi #

        I have always been very afraid of dogs. They always are barking at me from even across the street or walking by and at other people including children. I have been chased by a small dog barking at me for 10 minutes, until the owner finally came out of her apartment and called him in, and hade should have been on a leash with his owner! I have also had two other dogs with no leash jump on my thighs and their owner was right there.

        In June 2012 a medium sized dog without a leash came running up to me barking, and her owner only called her to come back from a distance, he didn’t even run after her up to me down the street.First she came back to him, but then she started running towards me again barking repeatedly! Her owner said sorry about that, but she wouldn’t hurt you though.Yeah right, did his dog personally tell him she wasn’t going to bite me? I was physically shaking for two hours after this.

        I checked with my local police department and asked them isn’t it against the law to have dogs in public streets and places running around with no leash,and they said yes, there is a 50$ fine it really should be a 100$ and told me to go to the .gov site about it.The Center For Disease Control reports that dogs killed 167 people over the age of 14 from 2001-2010! And they say *any* type of dog is capable of biting and or attacking people and that even small dogs can do real damage and harm.

        When I was five I was bitten by my uncle and aunt’s little grey terrier Heidi.When I 16 I was over my first cousin’s house and they had found a poodle type dog,I was standing across from her in my cousin’s bedroom and she was growling at me and my cousin yelled at her and said stop it! And then she said it was like she was ready to bite.

        I hate dogs, cats never come up to strangers ready to bite them the way many dogs do and you usually have to provoke cats to get them to hiss, bite or scratch, and they are beautiful and don’t make loud barking noises they just have a beautiful quiet meow and purring! I had a dog for about a year when I was 4 until I was 5, and then I had a gorgeous calico cat from the time I was 6 until I was 12.My former next door neighbor had such a sweet friendly beautiful orange and white tabby cat that I loved and he was an out door cat.

        Just last week I was down the street and I saw a German Shepard with another dog running back and forth with no leash at my apartment complex.I had to stand and wait for 15 minutes until I didn’t see them anymore and then I had to go across into the parking lot and I was still really afraid that they were still out there and would have run over to me and possibly worse.

        But also, for the first 18 years that I lived in my apartments they said in the lease and brochures that no dogs were allowed only cats.Then they put a notice under everyone’s doors unfortunately saying that now small dogs were allowed,and now with no notice in the last two years there are medium and big here now.

        PEOPLE WERE BITTEN BY A NEIGHBOR’S POODLE OFF A LEASH and went to court. 7036144.html

        A nun was mauled almost to death by three neighbor’s dogs and the dogs owner is a an owner of a dog grooming business,the dogs escaped from their fence and she was rescued by another nun.

        May 1, 2014
  2. Carlos #

    I really appreciate you sharing you story. Where i am from we never had leash laws but thats because my family is from a small country town in VA, but i strongly agree with how you feel about leash laws, they are definitely meant for protection for everyone. Dobies are great dogs, i had one growing up and he played a huge factor in my life. Im sorry that another dog owners ignorance caused a lot of problems for you, hopefully in due time murphy will be back to his old self in no time.

    January 4, 2012
  3. Zoey #

    Thanks so much for sharing this. My 10 month old dobie was attending an off-leash obedience class with 25 other dogs when he was attacked by a Jack Russell terrier. The terrier jumped up on his back and really bit into him. It took the me and the trainer to get him off. Bless his heart, my dog didn’t even bite his attacker. I believe that this attack occurred during a formative time in my dobie’s life. He has harbored a strong dislike for small, white dogs ever since.

    January 4, 2012
  4. THANK YOU for writing this. A few years ago, my husband and I were on a walk with our dog (a dog aggressive pit bull) when a rottweiler came bounding across the street. The dogs got into a fight and the rottweiler even bit my husbands arm as my husband tried to separate the two of them. We went home as quickly as possible and then realized that our dog had a puncture wound in his chest that would not stop bleeding and my husband had been bit through the skin. We called animal control and posted flyers in the neighborhood so that we could find the owner, to see if the other dog was up to date on his rabies shot. We did find the owner and we negotiated with her to pay all of our dog’s vet bills. The reason being – she did not have control over her dog and let his leash loose as soon as he started pulling on it. It was a nightmare that only lasted a few months for us, but still a nightmare. It was awful and I would never wish that upon anyone.

    I am so so sorry for what happened to you and your dog. I HATE it when people dont have their dog on a leash or are walking a dog that they simply cannot handle. It’s completely irresponsible. I wish more people would take responsibility as pet owners, but I know that day is far to come.

    I hope Murphy is able to get back to his old self and overcome what has happened to you both.

    January 4, 2012
    • Randye (Pet Treat Lady) #

      Please don’t make this a “BREED” issue. It’s not about ANY BREED of dog. It’s totally about PEOPLE being RESPONSIBLE about their dogs & obeying the LAW.

      January 5, 2012
      • Renee B #

        Who made this a breed issue? I didn’t read anything about what they said, that made it sound like they were accusing the breed itself.

        January 5, 2012
      • carly #

        They said their own dog was aggressive..

        January 6, 2012
        • And maybe it is. I have a dog aggressive French Bulldog – does that make this a “breed issue”? Some dogs are aggressive, and that can be anything from a Chihuahua to a Pittie to a Cocker Spaniel.

          At least these owners are wise enough to understand their dog’s limitations and needs. Ignoring it because ‘admitting it makes this a breed issue’ is just ridiculous.

          January 7, 2012
          • I think we can all agree that any dog, of any breed, can become dangerous when not properly managed by a responsible human being. When a dog attacks another dog or a person, it’s because the human set the dog up to fail (by not using a leash, letting them run loose in the neighborhood, chaining the dog, or training them to be aggressive, etc.) and that can happen with any breed, like you said. And so there is no breed issue in terms of safety (that line of thinking leads to breed bans), but there is a reckless owner issue behind this.

            January 7, 2012
            • Kevin #

              Honestly, you are right to indicate this is not a breed issue. It is definitely a training issue. There are however certain types of dogs that are breed specifically to perform certain tasks well. The comment above form notesfromadogwalker # indicated that it is irresponsible or setting a dog up to fail if you train it to be aggressive. Some breeds are naturally more aggressive then others and that is a very good thing in my opinion. I would agree that a good portion of the dogs out there should not be trained to bite or attack and that there are many people out there that are not responsible enough to on or care for a dog with that level of training. When done properly though a sound breeding combined with extensive obedience then protection, attack, scent training, can actually save human life as well. If you have doubt then simply look at Police dogs or Military dogs which are both trained on and off leash. If you have doubt that some breeds are better suited for certain jobs I would ask when the last time you saw a small dog such as a toy poodle as a police or war dog?

              I also think that most of the people that work in animal shelters rarely see dogs that have that much training as their owners are very responsible people who love their dogs beyond words. Dogs trained at that level are sold regularly for prices larger then many homes in my area. Through education and training dogs save many lives and help law enforcement and military on a daily basis. That is not counting the many private citizens that are protected in their homes and lives from danger and violent crime simply by owning a well trained dog and taking care of it responsibly.

              March 24, 2012
              • Hi Kevin, I hear what you’re saying. When I wrote “trained to be aggressive”, I wasn’t talking about working dogs and didn’t mean to lump their trainers in with people that train their dogs to be aggressive through beating them, feeding them drugs, and using them for illegal purposes. What I was getting at is that there are irresponsible and reckless humans who are to blame when there is a serious incident involving their dogs. It’s the person, not the breed of dog, that creates an unsafe scenario. The people and trainers you are describing don’t fall into that category, as long as they are properly managing their dogs (just like all of us should be doing too). And just for fun (seriously, I’m just doing this for a laugh, not to argue), there is a famous war dog you might want to check out that’s as small as they come:

                March 24, 2012
          • I’m a huge champion and supporter of the Pit Bull cause, and true information is needed. The fact is that many dog breeds targeted by BSL legislation are more likely to be dog aggressive. Anyone who has a dog like this should know that the tendency is always there, it is genetic, and you cannot “train” it out. That doesn’t mean every Pit Bull or mix is a vicious dog aggressive dog or can’t live/play with other dogs, but it does need to be kept in mind when keeping multiple dogs of this breed as well as when having them around other dogs. Sweeping dog aggression under the rug and pretending this breed is the same as all others is not a safe idea and can cause more BSL – because these dogs frequently get adopted to owners who have no idea of this genetic propensity and then they go to the dog park, and a media blitz follows when one gets into a fight and finishes it regardless of whose “fault” it is.

            However, I also agree this is not a breed issue and that all breeds are capable of dog aggression. I’m merely pointing out some breeds do have a genetic predisposition to it, just as a Border Collie tends to want to herd.

            I think this is a wonderful article and I really am glad that you and your dog were able to overcome this. It is a sobering reminder for me to continue to be vigilant about the management of my own dogs.

            July 2, 2013
            • “The fact is that many dog breeds targeted by BSL legislation are more likely to be dog aggressive.”

              Is that actually a fact? Can you please cite a reputable source because I’ve never heard that. It doesn’t jibe with my own experiences, really.

              August 9, 2013
      • Nothing about what Clare wrote suggest that she believes this to be a breed issue. She is merely providing descriptive details to illustrate her story.

        January 26, 2012
  5. Sam Tatters ( #

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us, however it does pay to note that simply meeting “a lot” of dogs (or people, cars, horses, etc) has no direct effect on the temperament of a puppy, or adult dog.
    I’m obviously not saying they were for Murphy, but if the majority of encounters a dog has with another being are negative, then a dog will become fearful of that entity; and even if the encounters are simply neutral, it’s still hit-and-miss as to how the dog will feel about that entity in the future.
    Of course, we all know that fear is the number one cause of aggression in dogs – it’s just so heartbreaking to read stories like this, where a negative experience – whether one, or one of many – have caused such issues not only for a dog, but also his person, and family.
    Perhaps the reason the other dog ran over & attacked Murphy was because of inadequate socialisation, or a lack of ongoing socialisation; we’ll never know, but it’s a fairly safe bet.

    January 4, 2012
    • No,the reason that the dog ran over and attacked quite simply put was that he was off leash. Had the dog been on a leash the probability of a similar outcome would have been SIGNIFICANTLY reduced if not eliminated altogether.

      January 6, 2012
      • Sam Tatters ( #

        Yes Lori B, leashes are good *management* tools, and would have stopped the dog from physically moving towards Murphy; however a leash does nothing to change a dogs’ emotional response – and in fact the only way a leash can change any dogs emotional response is negatively, through what’s known as “barrier frustration”.

        The only way to change a dogs conditioned emotional response (CER) is, in this instance, to socialise that dog; whether as a puppy, or remedially as an adult. Changing the CER will change the way a dog feels about something and so change the behaviour of that dog around that stimulus. My dog was afraid of visitors when I first got him, know he knows that visitors = fun toy & games of fetch, and now enjoys visitors; same for men, he was very wary of men, and so I taught him a greeting behaviour that is appropriate to use with people, and would reward him when he carried out the behaviour, jackpotting him when he greeted a man; now he is starting to seek out men to greet.
        In both examples I’ve changed his CER to make him feel better about the situation, and thus change his behaviour.

        Of course, I could have done absolutely nothing, and let him live a life of fear, and run the risk of him one day biting someone, or something – but that’s not fair on my dog.

        January 6, 2012
        • I had same thing happen when walking with a friend and her 5month old french mastiff. Two dogs out of nowhere…we were in meadow came running towards us. This is off leash area but dogs should still be under control.
          Well the just completely went after the mastiff…my lab and cattle dog never have fought…actually tried to protect him by chasing the dogs away.
          I ended up throwing myself over the mastiff and got my leash out…my vet taught me technique Vets use….wrap leash around dog’s neck and choke them out…just till they pass out..than release.
          I urge people to carry leashes…even if in non leash areas so you can use it this way. But mainly …what about i really want a child to be frighten for life because a large dog walks up face to face with them. Sure they might be friendly but it is very scary to the kid.
          My husband and i are no longer amazed at number of people who never carry leashes….it always their dogs who create issues too.
          The mastiff, now has issues and we are looking for trainer with experience in training aggressive dogs,
          I did get a lab that was mistreated. So sounds a lot like how therapy dog is reacting…just a lot of calm socializing …plus i had older dog who was calm around other dogs that he looked up to.boy that helps to have dog they like , basically show them the ropes…or what is safe etc.
          It took some time but now he is very sweet friendly lab. Now if i can find a trainer for the mastiff.
          Good luck…you might look in Whole Dog Journal…there is great trainer in Chico her name is listed with ph number. She is not just “trainer” but accredited. It is online…of i can supply her name if you ask.
          GOOD sorry that it happen…

          February 8, 2012
  6. It only takes one encounter to have months, even years of therapy and re-training. The man whose dog “attacked” your service dog will also have repercussions, however, unlike you he will simply not do the training needed to change the dog. The “he’s friendly” statement is getting old. Responsible dog ownership indeed means reading – is this an on or off leash area? Dogs on leash in an off leash dog park are also a hazard (in a reverse manner that dogs off leash in an on leash area are a critical hazard).

    It is so sad a service dog depended on for their owner’s life is by one incident forced to fear things because of one careless encounter!

    January 4, 2012
  7. Diana #

    Even when I had a old beagle mix, I always kept him on leash, but for a while had issues with a neighbor’s dog that was not being treated properly & would get out of their yard & try to attack my old dog. I also had to kick at the dog a few times to get her to back off & called animal control. I don’t know what happened to the dog, but his owners were oblivious to the danger their dog had become. I now have a young pit bull I just adopted. Even though she is sweet, I would NEVER consider having her off leash in the neighborhood or any public place. I don’t understand why people choose to ignore leash laws.

    I am so sorry for what happened to you & Murphy. There was no excuse for that man to have his dog off leash. His comment about the dog was good with kids – kids are not dogs & it sound like his dog was not properly socialized. I wish you & Murphy the best of luck & that nothing like this ever happens again!

    January 4, 2012
  8. Lenita Vaughan #

    I had a beautiful confident sheltie puppy ruined by a similar situation.. She was 3 months old and I was walking her on lead around my apartment complex, when a dog ran up and attacked her.. she was so tiny.. I had to hold her up above the attacking dog by the her leash, while the owner got his dog under control.. The owner never apologized or even offered an explanation as to why his dog was off lead.. Sadly she became very nervous anytime outside and never really came out of it.. Such a shame.. Show dog to nervous companion in under 20 seconds..

    January 4, 2012
  9. Good luck rehabbing! If anyone has suggestions on the best choice in safe leashes please contact me. We are trying to get the best quality leashes in our online daily deal store.

    January 4, 2012
    • Sam Tatters ( #

      Yep, sturdy double ended leads/leashes – one clip goes onto the dogs’ harness, and the other onto the collar/halti. The collar-end is for steering only, and the clip on the harness is for starting & stopping; plus two points of attachment can make a dog feel more secure, and also acts as a safety feature, if the collar should break, or a dog should back out of an incorrectly fitted harness, you’re still attached to him or her 🙂

      January 4, 2012
    • The ones made out of climbing rope are clearly the best ….they are secure, last forever( i have have had 3 now for over 12 years and just like new plus I walk my dogs daily….that means they are leashed as needed.
      I can get you name brands if you like….but believe places like JB wholesale have them.

      February 8, 2012
  10. I would love to help get the word out—
    I am a radio show host of “Pet Prep Radio, with Sheri, The Organic Pet Lady”–
    This is a GREAT topic and I will be addressing this issue on one of my future shows–
    We sell training leads on our website for SAR and more- These leads are used with working dogs and are of the best quality and durability–

    Please visit our website and learn more about the leads and our Radio Show–
    We air on Saturday nights at 6pm Eastern…

    January 4, 2012
    • Hi there! You’re welcome to contact me at: info(at)notesfromadogwalker(dotcom)
      Thanks! Jessica

      January 5, 2012
  11. Sarah #

    Im so sorry to hear the pain you went through trying to help your dog over come this… i hate off leash dogs, both my dogs are ok with each other but are very uncomfortable around other dogs so when a free roaming dog comes both me and my fiance have to try chase it away… were i live there are dogs with out people, and that is far worse cuz they follow …

    January 4, 2012
  12. Cori #

    I, too have had my service dog attacked by an off leash pet in a public area, not once, but TWICE by the SAME DOG on the SAME DAY! The woman didn’t even try to get control of her pet. Guess she didn’t realize that it is against the law to harass a service animal while it is performing its duties. An attack certainly constitutes harassment!

    January 4, 2012
  13. Barb #

    Here’s a trick I learned from my daughter….if a dog latches to your dog just grab his/her back legs and lift them off the ground. They let go immediately. I had to use it a couple of times to pull apart our daughters dogs. They had a couple of bad fights when they first met. Now they are best buds. There is nothing scarier than a dog fight.. I had nightmares for a long time after that.

    January 4, 2012
    • Micki #

      This trick usually works, but not always. I think it may depend on what kind of dog you are dealing with. I have a boxer-hound-mutt, and a German Shepherd, who unfortunately don’t get along well. During one encounter I had all four of the mutt’s feet off the ground, but she would not let go of the shepherd. Needless to say, I have learned to NEVER give either of my dogs the opportunity to harm another dog, my own vet bills were more than enough.
      Folks need to understand that no matter how well trained their dogs are, they are animals, and we do not know what may set them off.

      January 4, 2012
      • Micki, can you say if you crate and rotate? How do you have both in the same house if they do not get along? I have two that love everyone, but each other. They are never in the same room. We rotate rooms or crate and rotate.

        January 7, 2012
  14. It isn’t just dogs who suffer from the irresponsible people who let their dogs off leash. I was mauled by a dog at the age of three and terrified of them for years afterwards. I got over it and became a dog owner myself, and have always meticulous about keeping my dog on-leash, but am continually amazed by how irresponsible people are about this.

    Any time a loose dog so much as barks at me I tell the idiot owner–who inevitably claims the dog has never done that before–that the dog is innocent: they, the owner, are to blame for anything the dog does. By putting it in those terms–that I am on the side of their dog, who I don’t want to see destroyed because they let it run lose and bite somebody–it leaves them with very little to say in their own defense.

    January 4, 2012
  15. OMG! Off leash dogs in on-leash areas are one of my biggest pet peeves. I share my life and home with nine (no that isn’t a typo I said nine) dogs. When I walk them they are leashed unless they are in an off-leash dog park, or in their own back yard.

    A few months before winter hit I was driving down a neighborhood street on the way to visit a friend when all of a sudden I had to slam on my brakes as an off leash dog darted across the road in front of my tracker.

    As I sat in my car shaking because I had almost hit the poor thing, I was assaulted by a voice screaming at me from the sidewalk “Hey bitch! Can’t you drive? You almost killed my dog!”

    I looked at the big burly tattooed gentleman in front of me who now had his huge mastiff by the collar and was yelling and complaining about how i should be a more conscientous driver and watch for animals, and I said “Excuse me? There are leash laws in this town buddy and just about everywhere else too. Your dog should not be running around the city streets unleashed!

    “My dog is a good dog,” was the answer. “I don’t need no freakin’ leash, YOU need to watch where the (Insert favorite expletive) you’re going!”

    “No sir!” I said. “You’re animal was not under control, and therefore became a danger to a passing motorist, perhaps I should call the police and have them sort this out? After all you ARE obligated by law to leash your dog whether you feel he needs it or not.”

    The man tightened his grip on the dog and dragged it away. I noticed he was carrying no leash, he is more than likely one of those people mentioned above who do not feel the law applies to them.

    I have had several similar incidents since then, and each time it happens all I can think is “these people should not have pets!” Keeping a dog on a leash on the city streets protects it from harm just as much as it protects other people.from the dog. It isn’t about how well behaved you THINK your dog is, it’s about doing the right thing and following laws that are in place not only to protect the public from off leash dogs, but to protect pets from the accidents that occur when they are running free in the city. Leash your dog, not only is it the law, but it’s the smart thing to do for all concerned!

    January 4, 2012
  16. Debi Davis #

    My heart goes out to you. As a service dog user and trainer, it’s the number one concern I have, knowing that each time my dog goes out in public with me, he’s at risk from off-leash dogs. A year ago while exercising my two Papillon retired SD’s, two large backyard dogs broke down a gate and attacked my dogs, both of whom were at my side in my wheelchair. In less than 10 seconds, the dogs had both of my old Papillons pinned to the ground going for their necks and bellies. Fortunately neighbors came out to help, or my dogs would have not made it out alive. From that incident, i realized I needed protection. I cannot pick up a huge dog by its legs, nor protect my animals with my level of disability. So I purchased a stun baton. It will not kill, but it’s strong enough to take down a Mastiff sized dog and buy me time to get out of Dodge. I am a pacifist, I don’t like weapons, but in this case, my dogs’ safety has to come first. It’s no longer save for me to even walk my dogs on leash anywhere in our area. However, I feel much more confident with the stun baton within easy reach, in case of another dog attack. Yes, the behavioral after effects take a long time to work through, once a SD has been attacked with intent to harm. Because I use small dogs, they are even at more risk, because they often trip a prey trigger in larger dogs, who see them as squeaky toys. This is something all service dog teams need to think about, prepare for, and use whatever resources are available to keep their canine partners safe. Having some kind of plan in place, knowing how you’ll react, practicing the movements–all help in preparation for future encounters. After 15 years with service dogs, I know it’s always going to happen again. Some dog will come out between parked cars and pounce quickly, or they will jump a fence, break through a less secured fence or gate. It will happen. We all need to be prepared, not leave it to chance.

    January 4, 2012
    • Hi Debi, Thanks for sharing. I’m so sorry this has happened to you. The stun baton seems like a reasonable tool to carry with you, given the seriousness of the situation. I like your advice to have a plan and practice the movements – that’s great advice for anyone. Be well, Jessica

      January 5, 2012
  17. Sofia #

    It’s a huge problem, especially in the cities. People think they’re exempt from the law just because (typically) their dog behaves well off leash… One person does it… other people see it and assume it’s okay for them to do as well.. then we have dozens of people not obeying the leash laws and the cops don’t ever do anything about it because it’s not a priority to them.

    I, too, have had to kick another person’s dog to protect my service dog.. in a public park at which dogs are not permitted to begin with. I felt horrible for doing it, but this very large lab-pit mix was running loose and I asked his owner to put his dog on a leash. I was also told ‘he’s friendly’ as the dog approached Monty, growling. I told the owner if he didn’t get his dog under control, I’d do whatever necessary to protect Monty. The owner called me a “fat ugly bitch” and told me to mind my own business and that his dog wasn’t hurting anyone.

    His dog snapped at Monty and when Monty tried to hide behind me, the dog almost knocked me over trying to get him, so I kicked the dog as hard as I could in the ribs. Had it not been for the fact that we were at a public event (Arts Walk), there wouldn’t have been any police in the park to help.

    Another huge problem is people not wanting to leave their little-medium sized dogs home alone, or in the car, so they intentionally misrepresent their dog as a service dog. I don’t know how many times pet dogs in stores (that shouldn’t be there in the first place) have jumped out of baskets and carts just to have a go at Monty… be it friendly or aggressive, it’s still not okay. Monty, too, used to be leash reactive toward other dogs because of this, but now he works well around other leashed dogs and has learned to be evasive around loose dogs (for the most part).

    January 4, 2012
  18. Cynthia Eliason #

    It’s not about the leash, and it’s not about the off-leash dog being “friendly” or not. It’s about training. It’s about a dog doing as he’s told, when he’s told, whether there’s a leash on him or not. It’s about irresponsible fools who don’t train, and allow their dogs to behave inappropriately or dangerously. The presence of a leash doesn’t necessarily prevent disasters like the one in this post – in fact I know of a case where the attacking dog KILLED another dog and the LAW said the owner did nothing wrong because the aggressor was wearing a leash.
    Leash laws are a symptom of the lack of effective training today. If every dog had a bombproof recall and a “down-stay,” we wouldn’t need leash laws. Where I live we don’t have a leash law, we have a “dog control law” and people are pretty clever about using leashes if they know their dog needs one – and not taking dogs out in public if they are out of control in spite of the leash.

    January 4, 2012
    • Sofia #

      Not everyone is responsible enough to train their pet according to the law or responsible enough to make the determination as to whether or not their dog needs to be leashed in public. At least leashes allow the majority of owners to have/regain control over their pets, and the leashes allow the owners to guide their pets away from other dogs that they believe will be an issue.

      Yes, it’s about training, however even trained dogs can become unruly. Say, for instance, your dog (well trained and socialized, with good recall responsiveness) were to have some kind of environmental influence that alters his behavior? How do you regain control of him if he won’t recall?

      Leashes are a ‘necessary evil’ to well trained dogs because they help protect them, other dogs, and the people nearby. To be completely honest with you, I think that a ‘dog control law’ should be amended to include mandatory leash regulations simply because the best interest of ALL dogs and people is not protected by it they way it is now.

      January 4, 2012
    • May I have permission to print this off and send to my local newspaper? I have a service dog that helps me with my PTSD. I’m afraid to go for walks, because of off leash dogs and idiot people that use flexileads. I can’t count the number of idiots that allow their dogs to interfere with both myself and my certified service dog. I’m seriously considering getting pepper spray, or mace to deal with the problem.

      January 4, 2012
    • Linda #

      Leashes are still necessary to provide for your dog’s safety. If a rabbit, squirrel, rat, cat, whatEVer flushes and your unleashed dog’s prey drive kicks in, just pray that the street they cross while in pursuit does not have an oncoming car. Get a leash.

      January 4, 2012
    • JenniferT #

      If there’s a leash on the aggressive dog, at least there’s SOME form of control of that dog in play. If the owner won’t snatch up his/her dog when it goes after a peaceful, leashed dog, the owner of the dog being attacked has something to grab hold of to help defend their dog.

      YES, everyone *should* have their dog appropriately trained, but then, all people *should* have their kids under control, and even that rarely happens anymore either. Since you can’t force people to train their dog, your locale can at least enact and enforce a leash law that gives you better odds of your dog avoiding or surviving an attack, and also give you a clear cut win in court if you have to go there to get compensation for the damage some idiot’s dog does to yours.

      January 5, 2012
  19. RedDonnaAnn #

    I almost killed my own dog getting him away from an off-leash Pitbull: male, no collar, unfixed. It was horrible and I was terrified, choking my dog with the leash and going around and around in circles to keep the off-leash from getting a firm hold.

    WHY don’t people just obey the law???

    I am so, so sorry for your traumatic experience. I am more sorry you didn’t get the a-hole’s name. What a shame. On all levels.

    Hope you are feeling better. I know I am now very edgy when out with the dogs. Sad, right?

    January 4, 2012
    • Jan #

      That is exactly what happened to me a few days ago. I was training my dog, and an off-leash Pitbull, intact male, ran over and attempted to attack my dog. I, too, choked my own dog, running in circles,screaming at the Pit, kicking him, until I managed to open my car door an slip my dog inside. The owners showed up, just as their Pit took off. I confronted the owner about her dog being off-lead and aggressive, and she said, “that is what dogs do!”. Forty-five minutes later they were still chasing their, at large, aggressive dog around the city. I know that because their pick-up was still where they parked when they came to get their dog earlier. I am so sorry for your experience. It took my heart an hour to calm down. Fortunately, neither my boy or me was hurt. I do know that my boy is now frightened when he sees another dog now.

      January 5, 2012
  20. Ao sorry about what happenned, but….You let the guy get away? Are you crazy? who knows how many other dogs/people his dog has hurt. Are you really walking around without a cell phone? You should have called the police immediately and photgraphed him and the dog. All those lost wages/training expenses – should have sued.

    January 4, 2012
    • Sofia #

      Woah, Calm yourself and think before throwing around accusations. Maybe she’s not in an area with cell phone reception. Maybe she’s not able to use a cell phone… she has a service dog, which means she suffers from a disability of some kind…perhaps it affects her in a way that makes her unable to use one.

      Not everyone has a cell phone. I don’t because there’s no cell reception within 50 miles of my house. Am I able to use one? Definitely…however I don’t see a reason to pay a ridiculous monthly fee to keep a cell phone on hand when I’ll rarely use it.

      Not everyone is sue-happy, either. I’m sure plenty of us Service Dog dependent people have had many an instance where we’ve had grounds to sue, but didn’t because we either couldn’t afford a lawyer or simply didn’t want that much attention drawn towards us. Everyone is different. Take that into consideration before attacking people, next time.

      January 4, 2012
      • Sofia #

        Besides, if they were the only two people around and there was no one to help her get his information while she was caring for her frightened, injured dog. What was she supposed to do.. run after him and risk her dog getting attacked again?

        January 4, 2012
      • Well said – thanks Sofia!

        January 5, 2012
  21. Kristel – Thank you for sharing your and Murphy’s story. I was just speaking with someone about this very issue and I just read a post about it from a woman with a dog reactive dog who was lamenting the same thing. I wish people would realize that they are responsible for their dogs and if a dog is not leashed and it is not in a designated off-leash area they are putting someone else’s dog at risk. I am so glad Murphy is mostly okay. I cannot imagine what you both have been through in the past two years, but thank you for sharing your story.

    January 4, 2012
  22. Heather #

    Same thing happened to me…twice…once when walking in my neighborhood with my pup and another time at the dogpark. Both times my dog was leashed and the attacking dog unleashed. Both times both owners reported that their dogs were friendly. Both times the dogs attacked as you encountered in your letter, without warning. I carry pepper spray when i walk my dogs daily. I would not hesitate to seriously hurt another animal or owner should this happen again.

    January 4, 2012
  23. Kristel S. #

    I didn’t have a cell phone with me at the time, but I carry it with me now, all the time. I was so shaken up I wasn’t thinking, there was nobody else around and I was two miles from home. I just wanted to get home ASAP; I wasn’t thinking about much else in the moment. I called the police with the descriptions of both the dog and his owner in the event it happened to somebody else who DID get names, at least there is a report on file. I haven’t seen them on the path since. There are many things we would all do differently in hindsight, this is definitely one of those things for me. Even so, I may have asked that the owner cover my expenses, but I’ve never sued anybody and it’s not really my ‘thing’.

    On the upside, I learned something. I carry bear spray with me now, and I would use it in a heartbeat. I am saving up for a walking stick. I know that if I call the police they WILL come out and issue a ticket. I have since learned that interfering with a service dog is a federal offense.

    I was lucky; Murphy eventually recovered with a lot of training and time. He even took his first airline flight last fall and handled it calmly and attentively. It doesn’t always happen that way though. Often, a service dog has to be retired as the result of an attack because they are traumatized to the point they can’t focus, or become aggressive.

    Thank you to those who offered support and kind words, it really means a lot. It’s just awful reading about how often this sort of things has happened to other folks and their beloved dogs.

    January 4, 2012
    • If your dog can’t or won’t defend himself, then that job falls to you. Good for you on getting the bear spray. You will never have to physically hurt an attacking dog again. Take 1-2 seconds to move so the wind is at your back, and the spray will go toward the dogs (and probably hit the other owner for extra bonus points, hee hee).

      It looks like the “bear spray” contains a maximum of 2% Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) per EPA regulations. That’s pretty weak. I would recommend you buy something stronger so you can use it against human attackers as well. Look for “pepper spray” instead of bear spray. Pepper spray is very inexpensive.

      Several years ago there was a dogfight in the front yard of a house in my neighborhood. The owner wasn’t home, so the neighbors were trying to bang on the fence or rig up a hose to make the dogs stop fighting. I sprayed the dogs with an old expired can of law enforcement OC spray (10% OC content). The fight stopped instantly, but the dogs had a weird reaction. Instead of coughing and wiping at their eyes like a human would, they stood completely still, looking around like they could hear a train whistle in the far distance. The only coughing was done by me and a few of the neighbors, because I had to spray it upwind.

      Again, good job on being prepared to defend yourself and your dog. If more people were prepared, there would be fewer successful attacks by both four-legged and two-legged attackers.

      January 7, 2012
      • In some places, it is illegal to carry pepper spray, so bear spray may be the only thing she can use. Generally I recommend citronella spray, because I have yet to hear of any town/county that doesn’t allow people to carry it. Whatever you pick, make sure you practice using it near your dog, and countercondition your dog to the sound/scent of it being sprayed. One of my clients decided to pursue this after her small dog was attacked by an off-leash dog, and she bought a stuffed animal that they practiced approaching. She would spray the stuffed animal, putting herself between the stuffed dog and her own dog, and then give her dog very tasty treats for observing her use the spray can. Now she is confident that she knows exactly what to do in case of an emergency, and that her dog will not panic at the sound of the spray can.

        January 8, 2012
  24. Kat #

    You know its not just service dogs. I’ve fostered and currently own a breed that is just not good with new dogs (especially small dogs (prey drive) or sometimes not good with any other dogs at all). And that’s fine and safe because I keep my dogs on a LEASH and under control. The problem is when people let unleashed dogs run up to my dog saying “He’s friendly” Does it occur to them that maybe my 90 pound dog is NOT?! I have to keep my dog from hurting their dog and its a pain. And I’m so ticked off about it that I scream and yell at anyone doing it now. Its a 250 dollar fine for an unleashed dog and I let them know I have animal control on speed dial on my cell phone. While I’ve done a lot of training to reduce prey drive and dog aggression I certainly can’t guarantee it. And I should be able to walk my dog around my neighborhood if she’s on a leash.

    Also if anyone is ever concerned there is a dog pepper spray that sprays up to ten feet. I started carrying one when too many friendly dogs ran up to me. But seriously don’t you just want to use it on the owners? 😛

    January 4, 2012
    • Yep, I’d love to use pepper spray on them too:-) It is a thought!

      January 6, 2012
    • ahhall hall #

      I have many German Shepherd Dogs. Each one with different dispositions but all high drive and alert. I am concerned about my grand daughter age 11 walking these dogs alone due to loose dogs. She is the dog trainer of the family. She has won trophies for dog obedience and all my dogs are loyal and sound of nerve. My worry is for the other dog. A loose dog going up to my grand daughter with intention to fight would be hurt and my grand daughter would protect her dog and might be bit… by the other dog. All my dogs are uncut and kept separate to avoid challenges. A loose dog would be fair game in their opinion, especially if it wanted to pick a fight.
      I like the idea of the stun stick, but would prefer not having to juggle it with a 90-110 pound dog. Pepperspray .. same idea.. but I plan to get both. Loose dogs are a liabilaty to dog walkers and themselves.
      Dog owners need to protect their dogs from the environment and realize leashed dogs can also pose a threat to the loose dog. Sometimes the only option is to drop the leash and give your dog a chance to defend it’s self.
      I love my dogs too much, not to mention the granddaughters attachment, to put them in a position where they have to defend themselves. Therefore.. Around here, People protect the dogs on dog walks. Granddaughter takes helpers along to chase off loose dogs… to keep them safe… just in case our dog on a leash decides the loose one is a threat and decides to eat it… so far.. the dogs she is training now have not been challenged.
      In my opinion.. friendly dogs are just plain stupid… especially the little ones… I need to do more research on pack law… point to ponder.. How do wolves react to members of a different pack approching them outside of their territory?

      January 31, 2012
  25. Nikki #

    I hate people who claim that their dogs are friendly when they clearly are aggressive.I think it should mandatory for anyone who wants a dog to read information on dog behavior and how to correctly interpret their body language.

    January 4, 2012
    • Sarah #

      I totally agree with you !!My dog hates nearly evrything and im constantly telling people to leave her alone yet i have loadsa people comme running up… people need to learn to not approach dogs just as much as people need to learn to always keep a leash on their dog……

      January 5, 2012
      • I hear you there Sarah. I’ve even responded to “can I pet your dog” with “No, I don’t think that is a good idea.”. Or “does he bite?” with “Sometimes.”. Then there’s the time a youth of maybe 12 (with his father) approached me across a fence and told me he wanted to walk my dog. I looked him up and down. It was completely possible that he could handle my dogs *if he acts appropriately* because they respond to leadership. Once on the same side of the fence, within 10 seconds of interaction he shy’d, cowered, and turned his back with a sudden movement, which of course triggered prey response in my curious young GSD bitch and he got nipped on the calf. Suffice it to say my answer was ‘No, you may not walk my dogs.’ It was weeks before that drama shook out with no long term consequences, thanks to an understanding animal control and a bemused rather than angered father. But it goes to show that people often have lots to learn about dogs that they don’t even realize. (like if you act like a sheep, you’re going to get herded)

        January 5, 2012
        • Sarah #

          yeah my GSD is a terror for mouthing and she is three but I muzzle her on walks so the no prob on that, but the terrier is unreal i end up telling people nit so politly to go away because they think she all cuddly cuz she is small

          January 5, 2012
  26. Marguerite Maddox Jello #






    January 4, 2012
    • We love Jello already. Send us a picture!

      January 4, 2012
  27. Kelly, Fort Bragg, NC #

    This is terrifying to think about. I live out in the country on a ten acre horse farm so my guy is off lead a lot. Our state law is a dog control law allowing for non physical control of your dog. Even though my dog is a service dog in training and is perfect off lead not all dogs are capable or will ever be capable of that level of obedience. We have worked off lead or with a 30 foot training lead in private small businesses that I know personally (if only to know I have him solid enough that if my leash is dropped or breaks etc) but my dog will never be off leash among the general public. It’s bad manners for one thing and it sets a bad example for others. People with service animals could prove in a court that they had control over their animal because of the high degree and hundreds of hours of training to back it up. Most of the general public can’t do that. My dog is leashed more for the protection from the general public. Ignorant people grabbing and snatching at him when he’s dressed on heel is enough to make anyone want a leash.

    Oh and a lot of y’all are too nice, in the south were almost everyone conceal carrys a dog doing physical damage to my dog (considered property under the law) would get the offending dog shot out-right in protection of my life and property. I don’t personally carry but everyone I know down here including my spouse does. A by-stander who happens to carry would hopefully intervene if it was getting too out of control. Maybe some of the people who think the leash law doesn’t apply to them should think of a bullet going in there dog’s skull instead of it getting a kick in the ribs. Of course if they were dumb enough to have it off lease in the first place they don’t truly care about it’s safety.

    January 4, 2012
    • JenniferT #

      I carry, and I would use it to protect my dog, myself, or an innocent bystander. And I’d also win in court in my state. I’m crippled, and although my dogs are not needed as service dogs, I don’t think I could live without them. If anything threatens their or my life, I’m taking out that threat.

      January 5, 2012
    • All For Leash Control #

      Kelly, not every area allows conceal and carry. Also, while I am in full agreement that all dogs should be leashed when not in a dog park/owner’s backyard, and out in public, there are instances when dogs get out of homes by accident. I keep my dog leashed at all times, and she is trained (now), and will not leave my side, but there was a time when I first got her that she was still in the process of training, and an escape artist. She managed to get out and darted off into the park. I chased after her (with a leash in hand) but I am not fast. Thankfully she is not the type to be mean to anyone, but I’m also glad she never came across you or anyone like you (and same thing goes for you, Jennifer). I would hope that you would keep in mind that not all off-leash dogs are off leash with their owner’s consent.

      That said, I live in an area where there is a park very close by. I see people all the time, walking their dogs off leash and I live in a leash law area. And unfortunately, as someone else on here said earlier, the police often ignore the law because they “have better, and more important things to do.” It’s infuriating. Why have a leash law if people aren’t going to obey it? Also, when my dog got out, had a police officer been in the area at the time, and decided to fine me, regardless of whether or not I let her off leash on purpose, I would have accepted the fine without argument because I still would have been at fault. I just wish the police would put more effort into enforcing the leash law, because funny enough, if a dog bites someone, I know from experience (from my previous dog, who was people and dog aggressive) that they take THAT seriously. Better they should put more effort into the PREVENTATIVE measures, than react super harshly after the fact!

      At any rate, I’ll have to look into the pepper spray for defense against dog threats. And if the idiot owner happens to also get sprayed? Oh well. Maybe they’ll learn to leash their dog from then on.

      December 31, 2013
  28. I think that it is irresponsible to not leash your dog at all times when you are out and about. I don’t care how friendly you think that your dog is, things can happen. I go with my daughter to AKC dog shows and there is a lot of dogs there, can you imagine if someone doesn’t leash their dog? Sometime when we are there someone comes up to your dog with their puppy and lets the puppy get into your dogs face, are they nuts? I had to tell the person that her practice of letting a small puppy get into every dogs face is not a good idea for at least two reasons: First, you don’t know what the adult dog is going to do and second that dog could have something contagious and the owner doesn’t always know that ahead of time, not until the symptoms appear. So please, have common sense when it comes to your pets and keep them and everyone around you safe,

    I am so sorry to hear about your incident it is so unnecessary for something like that to happen to anyone. I hope the both of you get back to normal very soon.

    January 5, 2012
  29. and see, this is why I always got pissy with my now ex-husband. I worked really hard to get our very exuberant rottie to obey and be settled on and off leash. The idea being that even if she was on leash, I really needed to be the one in control and not have her yarding on me and possibly getting loose to interact with other dogs when it was not appropriate to do so. He, on the other hand, worked against her training and often lost his grip on the leash as she lunged to race and run in areas that it wasn’t appropriate. What can be a normally friendly dog, can take a dislike at any time to another living being. These are dogs, not humans. They do not have the same psyche nor body language. We can’t expect them to react the way we do.

    January 5, 2012
  30. Judith #

    I live in the country so my very friendly dog is off leash most of the time – we rarely see other dog walkers. He’s trained to lie ‘down!’ on sight of another dog and to ‘stay’ til I attach the leash. He’s leashed walking where there are likely to be other people with dogs eg through the village. Sorry, but I don’t think it’s possible to exercise a dog of any size properly on the leash – i can’t run that fast. Some breeds like collies NEED to run many miles a day for full fitness. All dogs need to make their hearts and lungs work, and not all of us have gardens or yards for eg throwing games

    Finally, I have no sympathy for anyone who walks a dog known to be aggressive in a public place, on leash or off. If your dog is aggressive, keep it in your own fenced property please – and don’t breed from it. We have one locally, a breeding bitch, which attacks anything which approaches. One day someone won’t be able to hold her and there’s already been trouble, and huge vets’ bills, from her attacking other dogs which are passing, while her owner tries to control her on the leash. It’s a pain.

    If you can’t dislodge another dog from your own by a kick to the ribs then try one to the cheeck/jaw area – it works. It worked on a huge Great Dane x Mastiff which attacked my previous dog, a hound breed. It at least gives your dog a chance to run off. If a dog jump attacks you and your dog going for the throat, esp your throat, the best thing to do if you have the presence of mind is to grab both front legs and pull outwards – this bursts the rib cage. Drastic and may be lethal but can be a life-saver. My husband was trained how to do that in the military

    January 5, 2012
    • Heather #

      Great info! Thanks Judith. I agree about the excersize comment. I have two sighthounds. They get walked twice a day total 4 miles. Its nothing. I have to take them to a fenced in ball field, dogpark at midnight so no other dogs are present, and I have also began riding my bike with one of them next to me but this requires only ideal circumstances as its extremely dangerous to the both of us should something happen.

      January 5, 2012
      • Heather, you want a double springer. Safe running along your bike for BOTH your sighthounds – they won’t be able to pull you over, and you’ll be able to keep them moving along. With one on each side, they’ll get high speed exercise, they’ll adore it!

        As an owner of two very good but very german shepherdish german shepherd dogs, I know exactly how it is.

        January 5, 2012
        • Heather #

          Thanks so much for the Double Springer info! Just made my order! Perfect. I haven’t seen this before! thank you thank you thank you!

          January 5, 2012
      • Do you have a treadmill or can you buy a used one for cheap? They’re a great way to exercise dogs inside when you need to!

        January 5, 2012
        • Heather #

          Great idea, especially with winter upon us! Craigslist, here i come!

          January 5, 2012
    • Tracy #

      I’ve been on both sides of this issue. I adopted a G.Shep in England that was VERY dog aggressive but I was fully capable of walking her on leash with a pinch collar. A woman with a little , white dog had let her unleashed dog torment mine on numerous occasions. I told the trainer I was going to about it and he said tell her you have no option but to let your dog protect itself. The next time her dog was off leash I told her I was going to have to unleash my own dog.
      After that she controlled her own dog.

      January 31, 2012
  31. Naomi #

    My dog is friendly, she also happens to have fear aggression because she was attacked at a dog park. I have been constantly working her since then and it has not gone away, but it is getting better. I still take her to public places to resocialize her even though i constantly get badgered about it because she does act up on occasion. I use a gentle leader on her and it works very well, nothing like having control of a 90 pound rottweiler! I firmly believe that ALL dogs need to be on a leash no matter what kind of dog it is or where you are at. It just makes sense.
    Akasha is very well trained but I would not trust her off leash in any situation because… well she is a dog, not a thinking, reasoning human!

    January 5, 2012
    • Sam Tatters ( #

      Naomi, just because your dog is a dog does not mean she isn’t a sentient, feeling, thinking, being.
      She thinks, reacts, responds, acts, and reasons, and has reasons – it is up to us to understand our dogs; rather than just muddle along because we don’t know how they think & therefore they can’t be thinking.
      Brenda Aloff’s “Photographic Guide to Canine Body Language”, and Turid Rugaas’ “Calming Signals” will help you to understand your best friends body language, if you’re interested 🙂

      January 5, 2012
      • Sam, I think you’ve misunderstood her comment. She’s simply agreeing with the blog in saying that dogs can’t be trusted to make the right decision 100% of the time, no matter how well trained, so leashes are necessary.

        January 5, 2012
        • Sam Tatters ( #

          And all I was saying is that just because a dog makes a decision that you or I necessarily wouldn’t, it doesn’t make it a “wrong” decision; being able to understand the reasoning for our dogs’ decisions makes it easier on us to make the right decision for our dogs before they need to make the decision themselves 🙂

          January 5, 2012
  32. I have a fear agressive autrailian shepard, and a timid border collie thanks to people like this. They are always leashed and I am always aware of what is going on around me, who is coming, and other dogs.

    $250 later at the emergency vet with my border collie with a puncture in her thigh, not offer from the other owner to pay. She is not fond of anything new.

    The aussie, went in the other direction. He is tired of being attacked, so he gets defensive and tells the other dog that I am going ot get you before you get me.

    I mourn being able to take them out in public because of this, but it is the way they are now thanks to formative encounters early in their lives.

    January 5, 2012
  33. I have had that situation with my 1st service dog when we were attacked by stray dogs. Fortunately DEVER my chocolate lab from Paws With A Cause was a big fellow ove 100lbs and was able to defend himself and me. He was not trained to protect me, but his canine instinks kick in. He never was the same after that and any stray dog wthout someone with them or not on a leash was in trouble.

    January 5, 2012
  34. Thank you so much for your article. I wrote a blog post towards the end of last year about people who ignore leash laws. In our county is it is $500 fine although I can’t think of one person who has ever had to pay. I am a pet sitter and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking dogs and a ‘leash free dog’ has come running up to us. Some of my clients are friendly, but some are not. I now carry a can of mace with me. I haven’t had to use it, but would to protect either my own dogs or my clients. I don’t advocate hurting any animal, but I must protect my dogs.

    January 5, 2012
  35. Sofia #

    You do know that there are more service dogs than the ones that help you turn on lights and pick stuff up, right? Just because they don’t state [in the article] what this woman’s dog does to assist, doesn’t mean it’s fraudulent. They’re simply respecting her privacy.

    Perhaps you should change your name from Nu Nu to Pretentious, Assumptive, Uneducated Ignoramus.

    By the way: My service dog doesn’t do either of those tasks either. You going to bag on him, too?

    January 5, 2012
    • Sofia, I deleted that comment from Nu Nu. It was really offensive. Sorry I didn’t see it sooner – I was out dog walking!

      January 5, 2012
      • Sofia #

        Sorry, It just really sticks my craw when people tout off half-cocked without actually knowing what they’re talking about :/

        January 5, 2012
        • Sofia, me too. I’m glad you spoke up!
          Kristel, some people are just jerks, looking for an anonymous, online argument. There’s no logic behind it!

          January 6, 2012
          • Kristel S. #

            Too true!

            I don’t know if NuNu’s post just reappeared or if it was re-written, but I just got a glimpse of a doozy.

            In spite of the fact that I generally tend not to engage AT ALL with folks who insist on an ignorant viewpoint, NuNu’s tenacity has inspired me to clarify a thing or two.

            First, Nunu and folks like Nunu don’t get to decide or define what is or isn’t a service dog, the ADA does. Until the Nunu’s of the world become members of the ADA, or have a clue as it regards to service animals, the opinions thereof are largely irrelevant to me.

            What my disability is, isn’t Nunu’s business. I WILL say that my dog easily fits into Wiki’s definition of a service dog, performs many of the tasks on the list (and since they are specific to my disability, exactly what he does is none of Nunu’s business, either) and that is all I have to say on the subject. My only real concern is what the ADA thinks on that point, not Wiki and certainly not Nunu.

            Okay, I’m done feeding the trolls…:-P

            January 6, 2012
            • KateC #

              “Imposter” or “fake” service dogs are a growing problem . This is the canine version of illegally parking in a handicapped parking space. Many people have forgone any type of morality and have obtained vests and attached patches to illegally gain entry to public places with their pet dogs.

              “This is the canine version of illegally parking
              in a handicapped parking space.”

              As unbelievable as it sounds, some offenders believe that their dog should be allowed to go with them everywhere and can’t see the harm in passing off just one dog. These folks pass off their pets, knowing it is illegal, but do it anyway because they lack any sense of wrongdoing. Still others believe that they are truly justified because they have an disorder and having their pet dog with them eases their symptoms; but they failed to do the research to learn how to become legally compliant with their dogs’ training.

              According to Federal law, in order for any type of service dog to accompany their partner in public, they must be individually trained to do specific tasks. There is an alarming number of handlers who have not done any required training of their dogs or learned the laws that govern service dog use. They carry notes written by their doctors testifying to the fact that their dog helps to ease symptoms of disorders; and so, they feel fully justified in having their dog in a public place, claiming it to be a service dog. However, there are a large number of these dogs that have not received the proper training that would legally elevate their status from pet to service dog.

              January 6, 2012
            • Ugh. Nu Nu keeps posting while I’m out dog walking. I deleted…again. Sorry you have to deal with creeps like that Kristel.

              January 6, 2012
              • Kristel S. #

                No worries:-)

                January 6, 2012
            • Sofia #

              Nope, that’s a totally different comment. xD

              Still touting off half-cocked, too. Autism dogs are service dogs, and they don’t fit in NuNu’s copy/paste definition of what a service dog is supposed to be. PSTD dogs aren’t listed either.

              -trollvoice- “Those are therapy dogs”

              Actually, they aren’t. PSTD dogs are trained to assist those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (especially for ex-soldiers) and diffuse/mitigate/avoid situations that can or typically would set them into an anxiety attack.
              Autism Dogs are, in my opinion, nothing short of little miracles and, since it’s harder for me to explain those, here’s a link:

              Kristel, I’m sorry that you’re being the target of an internet troll…People like these… they’ve got absolutely nothing better to do than be rude to people, cutting them down and causing drama, since their own life is unfulfilled and lacks social enrichment.

              @Admin- Maybe they know your schedule o.o

              January 6, 2012
              • Sarah #

                My young cousin had autism and his dog “sexi lexi” as he is well known save him from running out in front of a truck, he wanted to chase a comic that blew out into the road…. If that dog doesn’t fit as a service dog i dunno what does…. with out lexi my family would still be grieving the loss of a wonderful little boy… so trolls like NUNU can go to hell (sorry it just makes me so angry…..)

                January 6, 2012
                • Sofia #

                  While I understand your appreciation and affection for the dog who saved your young cousin, a one-time incidence is hardly grounds for an instant service dog title…a Service dog is trained for years to do what they do.

                  Yes, sometimes a dog’s intuition makes them do something unnatural or out of the norm, however, it’s not entirely unknown for dogs to occasionally do something seemingly miraculous, without training.

                  I’m not trying to be rude or say that it wasn’t incredibly fortunate that ‘Sexi Lexi’ prevented your young cousin from being seriously injured…I’m just trying to clarify the fact that dogs don’t just become service dogs because they do something seemingly extraordinary now and then.

                  January 6, 2012
                  • Sarah #

                    This dog is a service dog the spent years looking for a the right dog with the right training from accredited trainers I personaly dont know the in and out of it but i do know that it was a long lengthy process…. and he has all the legal qualifications a dog need to be a service dog…..

                    January 6, 2012
                    • Sofia #

                      My apologies, then… I misunderstood. From the comment, it sounded as if you were labeling the dog as a service dog based on that particular incident. Sorry for the misunderstanding. 🙂

                      January 6, 2012
                    • Sarah #

                      no no i re-read my question and i never stated he was a service dog sorry for going off on one…:)

                      January 6, 2012
              • Sarah #

                of course she is going to be upset over the no leash thing beause thats what cause it in the first place a service dog is still a dog and what one dog service or not may take in its stride another dog will not be able to handle regardless of training…..

                January 6, 2012
      • Sarah #

        may i ask what nu nu said …. or was irt really that bad…

        January 5, 2012
        • Sofia #

          They basically questioned the validity of Kristel’s service dog and implied that she was passing her pet doberman off as a therapy dog…and was very rude about it.

          January 5, 2012
          • Sarah #

            thats awful, my cousin has a service dog but hea has no “visible dissability” but with out that dog he would be lost….

            January 5, 2012
            • Sofia #

              I, too, have an ‘invisible disability.’ To make matters worse, I have a small breed service dog.

              Cesar Milan did a few web articles on Service Dogs for people with “Invisable Disabilities’ and Monty and I were interviewed for the Diabetes Dog segment.

              If you like, I can link you to the articles so you can cross post and educate those who don’t know much, or understand, the many ways dogs assist people in need of assistance.

              January 5, 2012
              • Sarah #

                that wud be v cool thanks

                January 5, 2012
                • Sofia #

                  Hearing Assistance Dog:

                  Diabetes Dog:

                  Guide Dogs:

                  They seem to have stopped continuing the series.. I don’t know why :/ They were pretty informative.

                  January 5, 2012
                  • LORRE LEON #


                    January 7, 2012
                    • I’m so sorry this has happened to you as well Lorre – it’s very upsetting. But I’m glad to hear they took responsbilty and paid for the care your dog needed.

                      January 7, 2012
                    • Sarah #

                      Im so sorry this happened to your dog, but I have to say i am delighted that the owners of the shepherd took full responsibility and thing like this go to show that there are people with such breeds that know how to and do take complete responsibility. I am also so glad that your dog is ok though 🙂

                      January 7, 2012
          • Kristel S. #

            Oh wow…that’s creepy! Thank you for stepping in:-) I wonder what led NuNu to this erroneous conclusion, since nothing at all in the article provided even the slightest insight into my disability or my life?

            January 6, 2012
  36. Joyce #

    This is a horrible thing that happened to your dog, I am so sorry. However, I would also like to educate in general. It is important to understand dog body language even your own dog. I was waiting to go into a ring with my male Sheltie when another dog challenged him aggressively. Both dogs were on lead so it was easy to get them separated. But when something similar happened a few months later, I started watching my dog more closely. I realized that he had a tendency to stare down other males in his proximity. That “stare down”can be taken as a challenge. Since then, I’ve learned to disengage him when he makes eye contact with other males and we’ve never had a problem since. He’s actually quite a mild mannered dog that runs loose with other males in my home and isn’t dog aggressive at all. This isn’t about who’s to blame as much as a lesson for dog owners about normal dog behaviour.

    Again, I’m very sorry that your dog was attacked that way. It is important for all of us to pay attention to what our dogs are doing!

    January 5, 2012
    • Kristel S. #

      I agree that to any dog handler, a working knowledge of dog body-language is very important. Murphy definitely didn’t invite this. I’ve been working with dogs for almost 20 years, so I’m familiar with body language to a point it’s nearly instinctive. Murphy wasn’t looking at the other dog; to him the other dog was nothing more than another tree or park-bench.

      And as far as blame goes, any altercation will ALWAYS be the fault of the owner with the out-of-control, off-leash dog, IMHO.

      I still think your point is a good one though, and an excellent reminder to be aware of what our dogs are doing.

      January 6, 2012
  37. Wendy Clark #

    I am so happy that you are both ok and back to your routine. I was also so very happy to see a doberman as a service dog. They are wondeful animals and get a bad rap. That dog was very lucky that Murphy had restraint because if he didn’t Murphy could have wiped the floor with him. Dobermans are very talented as working dogs but they are also very effective protection dogs. You are I. Good hands:) wishing you many years of happiness and safety. Great article.

    January 5, 2012
    • Kristel S. #

      Thank you for the kind words. Dobermans ARE wonderful dogs. Murphy tends to be on the ‘soft’ side, but I think a big part of the reason he was able to recover and go back to work is because of his innate Dobie stability and his work ethic. Any job you give them, they will give their all to.

      January 5, 2012
  38. As a professional dog trainer I am appalled at what people think is okay to do with their dog and I’m profoundly sorry to hear you had to go through the last couple of years in this way. It makes me sad for your dog too.

    My dogs are both completely under control without a leash, spot on recall etc. I live in Hawaii where things are a bit more relaxed, however, I do walk on a trail where lots of people with and without dogs walk. I keep my dogs on a leash out of respect for those who don’t have a dog with them. But every single day I see someone who has a dog that lunges at something, whether it be people or dogs. Sometimes out of play, sometimes out “get away from me”.

    Why people think that if they just keep doing it, the unruly behavior will go away is beyond me. These are the people who are ruining dog friendly anything and it bums me out.

    I do my best to continue to educate, educate, educate.

    Aloha wags!

    January 5, 2012
  39. I am so sorry that this happened to you and Murphy. 😦 I hope that the worst is over for you two.

    I will never understand why people think they are above the law, or that they are somehow the exception to the rule. I’ll be sharing your story – perhaps it will wake some people up to reality.

    January 5, 2012
  40. Ashley #

    I’m glad to hear Murphy’s on the mend! I’ve got two DINOS and I can’t help but get irked (and panicky) when off-leash dogs run up to them in areas that require leashes – not to mention the poop the off-leash dogs tend to leave behind because they are far from their owners……….or their owners don’t “see” it.

    January 5, 2012
  41. RichMC #

    I’m sorry for your struggles. Unfortunately, ignorance comes from both sides of this issue. Being on leash can sometimes help stop and aggressive dog attack, but it can make the situation worse as well. I’ve witnessed many such encounters and having a leash on the dogs can cause injuries and death as well. Both my dogs were hospitalized by aggressive on leash dogs. Clueless dog guardians/owners are somewhat the norm. All dogs need behavioral training. People who require service dogs need training to protect their dogs. I became trained by dog behaviorists three years ago and have successfully diffused hundreds of situations at parks and on the street since then.

    January 5, 2012
    • Kristel S. #

      I was able to protect my dog, but not all disabled handlers are physically able to do so (the blind, autistic children, folks who have very limited strength or mobility, etc), nor should that be an expectation.

      January 6, 2012
  42. I have a doberman. Well socialized and great with other dogs… same thing… another came running…. I yelled out your dog…….. they yelled back at me, oh dont worry hes friendly… ends up that dog wasnt and bit mine.. my poor dobie. They said… I donno what came over him.. hes never like this. Dobermans automatically get the bad name but its the other dogs that bite them.. i dont get it.

    This other dog was a bloodhound. … others have been Maltese, pugs, labs and the list of off leash troublesome dogs go on…. people need to keep their dog on leash.!!! My doberman has never went over another dog, but has been bit numerous times.

    January 5, 2012
  43. Thanks for the article. Even though people are stupid you can’t change that! You can make laws and try to enforce them and it it really doesn’t matter because people will do what they will do, so you have to be responsible for everything.

    January 5, 2012
  44. Jocelyn #

    In addition to protecting other people, I think it’s important to mention that keeping your dog on a leash protects the dog as well. Even the most well trained dog can get distracted, wander into an unsafe area, or accidentally step in front of a moving car. The only way to guarantee your dog’s safety is to keep him by your side at all times. This means keeping him on a leash when out in public. If you won’t do it for the safety of others, do it for your dog.

    January 5, 2012
    • Amen Jocelyn! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people saying things like, “My dog would never run in front of a bus” or “my dog always comes back” and we all know that just isn’t the case. Leashes aren’t perfect, but they’re the most reliable option we’ve got in terms of safety. There’s no reason not to use them in public.

      January 6, 2012
  45. leah #

    My husband and i walk our pomeranian and long haired chiwawa through out our neighborhood every day some times two or three miles and it never ceases to amaze me how many people just let their dogs out with out a leash or tye out. My pom is terrified of off leash dogs, shes fine with dogs on leash and she has never been attacked. I think she just knows its wrong. We had a neighbor across the street with a tiny mixed breed puppy and it was running around across the street with out a leash, it saw our dogs and came tearing across the street to play with our dogs it almost got hit by a car in front of its owner and their little girl. I told them they should keep the dog on a leash and they gave me a dirty look. The next time i saw the dog out side with out a leash i yelled at the owner and they got mad at me and said it wasnt their fault the dog just runs out the door. This summer i saw the little girl and no dog, i asked where the dog was and she said it had gone to sleep after an accident. Huh i wonder what happened there. I dont care how obediant, well trained or friendly you think your dog is, in a busy traffic filled neighborhood with small children, hawks, coyotes, cars even bunnies or squirrels you have no idea what distraction might make your dog run off and for its safety and others keep it on a leash! Even i am guilty of assuming that everyone should like my dogs they are small sweet and friendly even with two year olds grabbing at them, but not everyone likes dogs and some are terrified of them. I dont own the neighborhood and have to respect the people in it and keep controll of my girls. I get real tired of people who repeatedly appoligize when their off leash dog runs up to ours and scares the s–t out of them tge answer is simple leash!

    January 6, 2012
  46. Karin Cousineau #

    I feel for you. My little dog was attacked by two large dogs, grabbed by the neck and the back end and they tried to pull her appart. The owner said “they were just playing”. I don’t understand how people can be so naive and believe that their dogs can not attack another dog. I traumatized my dog, myself and my daughter. We felt helpless during the attack. Leash laws need to be enforced by stricter rules and punishments for those who do not obey the law. So sorry you had such a bad experience.

    January 6, 2012
  47. Marcia Martin #

    I am so sorry this happened and it is great that you were able to rehabilitate your precious service dog. I have a rescue Papillon, who was nervous and worried about other dogs when I got her and who got much worse when she was attacked by another dog (fortunately only about 30 pounds or so) who pulled its leash away from the owner to run at her and attack. I’ve been working with my dog for 2 years now to try to desensitize and counter condition her but she is still reactive if another dog barks or runs. She is always on leash when we walk, she is highly trained and shows in Rally Obedience. It is the clueless people with off leash and out of control dogs who cause this heartache.

    January 6, 2012
  48. j.carr #

    Off leash dog owners should be fined, and have the dog impounded for a second offensive.
    That said leave my flexible lead alone. Just as some people need a service dog I have COPD and need the flexi lead.

    January 6, 2012
    • Sam Tatters ( #

      As intrigued as I am as to why you *need* a flexi lead when you have a breathing issue; I’m more intrigued by the fact it seems you want no dogs off-lead at all, ever.

      I’m working with my nervous rescue so that he has a brilliant recall & is confident enough, so that he can run off lead in appropriate places – the beach springs to mind.

      We need to work with his confidence (having never been to the beach before I took him, he had never seen a rockpool), but his recall is 98+% there. Of course, I wont let him off the lead until both are 200%, but it saddens me to think you would confine all dogs, in all situations, to the length of their leash.
      I can throw his toys further than the 12 feet his long line (which he is only on when it would be appropriate for him to be off-leash) reaches, and I know, when he is able, he will enjoy running after them further than 12 feet too.

      January 6, 2012
      • Sofia #

        I kinda agree with J.Carr on this one. If there’s a leash law and it’s being disobeyed, I agree that the offender should be ticketed, however, the dog being impounded isn’t right. The dog hasn’t done anything wrong, his owner has.. so why punish the dog?

        Besides, off-leash dogs, no matter how trained and obedient, still pose a risk to themselves and to other people/dogs. Why not simply keep your dog leashed until you’re in an area appropriate for off leash dogs? Say, for instance, an off leash dog park?

        January 6, 2012
        • Sofia, I’m starting to have a commenting-crush on you. Well said again! It’s really so simple, isn’t it? Designated on-leash areas require that all dogs must be on-leash at all time, no excuses, because it’s the law. Designated off-leash areas are acceptable places for off-leash dogs to run free. Win-win for everyone.

          January 6, 2012
          • Sofia #

            Haha, no worries, glitches happen :]

            A comment-crush, eh? I’m flattered ^^

            January 6, 2012
        • ahhall hall #

          The beach… had a potential incident with one of my 2 year old shepherds.. he is now 13. On a virtually private beach at a resort in Washington state. We were having a great time with our grand daughter, age 1 year at that time and our happy active fast running 2 year old GSD. Until an elderly couple dared walk onto “our” beach.. The dog did not like the intrusion and went into a warning charging position.. Growling, barking and charging. Lucky for us he stopped when called off. However.. being the dominate male that he is.. He was not finished.. he continued to threaten the elderly couple.. charging a few feet at a time with full sound effects. He never got within 100 at least yards of them and they did not seem to even notice him… but It sure surprised me. Learned he was very protective.. would threaten and would stop when called off but would continue to alert IF HE thought there was a threat.. anyway. I trusted this dog and for whatever reason he reacted to an elderly couple. He had to spend the rest of the beach visit in the truck or on lead 😦 . My guys.. always on leash. if noone around.. off leash with me watching closely for anyone showing up in our space with full understanding of the liabillity of potential problems…. Needless to say, the dogs are on leash or have a drag leash at least. Too much energy spent watching for people and dogs appearing. If any of my dogs got into trouble.. I take that as my fault. I try my best to give them as much freedom as I can.. in FULLY fenced spaces.. and of course at home… I would never forgive myself if one of my GSD harmed in any way a person or animal.. I have cats and rabbits and so far all are sound. Rethink off lead on the beach. If the dog is running with you.. a lead is not a problem. My experience with my dogs, is, even loose in the wilderness, they stay within ???15 or 20 feet of me.. running circles around me.. get used to jumpping over the lead.. good exercize…lol.
          Our wilderness now has wolves… I have to be vigulent there too now:(.

          January 31, 2012
    • j. carr: Flexible leads can be dangerous, depending on how they’re used, so that’s why so many people dislike them. Here are some thoughts on responsible retractable lead use that might work for everyone:

      January 6, 2012
  49. HarryLogic #

    For the anxiety ridden dog lovers…..

    If you are not disabled, then your dog is a pet…plain and simple.

    If your anxiety is disabling, and your dog is not trained to do something to mitigate the disability, then your dog would be an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). ESAs can be in no pet housing and fly on planes (both with proper documentation from a mental health professional).

    If your anxiety is disabling and your dog is trained to do something to mitigate the disability, then your dog would be a service dog, and you would have the right to have your dog with you in public places.

    @ Bethany: A doctor’s letter does not make a dog a service dog. There is a 3-prong test that must be met.
    1st…The handler is disabled per the ADA
    2nd…The dog DOES something to mitigate that disability
    3rd…The dog is trained to behave properly in public.

    A doctor’s letter can attest to the handlers disability, but that is it. A doctor’s letter can help in making a dog an ESA, but ESAs are not allowed in non pet friendly public places.

    Many times doctors are not informed on the law and don’t know the difference between an ESA, SD, or TD.

    January 6, 2012
  50. caroline #

    A law that people don’t think about in regards to service dogs is, it is a crime to impersonate a disabled person and claim that your pet is a service dog when it is not. People that would like to take their pet everywhere with them and they either put a vest on the pet or tell business owners that their pet is a service dog are trying to obtain benefits that they are not entitled to and are committing a crime.

    A person commits the crime of criminal impersonation in the second degree if he assumes a false identity and acts in the assumed character with intent to defraud, commit a crime, or obtain a benefit to which the person is not entitled; or pretends to be a representative of some person or organization and acts in the pretended capacity with intent to defraud, commit a crime, or obtain a benefit to which the person is not entitled. Criminal impersonation in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000. Statute: §11.46.570

    January 6, 2012
  51. Kristel S. #

    I agree that’s a problem, but I guess I’m not sure why that’s being discussed in this venue. My dog has been a “legal” service dog for years, I have a recognized disability and my dog has had all the necessary training/screening…again, years ago.

    There was no mention of what my disability is or what my dog does to mitigate it because it wasn’t at all the point of the story. It rarely is. I doubt most people would start ANY discussion with a disclosure of their medical issues or medications, and of course not; that’s personal. I try to live my life with my disability not being the primary factor or focus. With my service dog I can do that, without him I felt like my whole world was suddenly about my disability. That was the point. That somebody’s loose dog could, in an instant, impact my quality of life severely.

    Most service dog handlers know far more about the laws and rights of service dogs than the average person; they have to. We tend to be pretty decent dog trainers too:-)

    January 6, 2012
    • Kristel, I’m so sorry – I have no idea why the issue of fradulent service dogs is even being discussed here.

      The bottom line is that no dog (of any kind) deserves to be harrassed (or worse attacked) by an off leash dog when there are leash laws in effect.

      January 6, 2012
      • Kristel S. #

        No biggee…I think it’s the ‘Nunu-effect’ 🙂 Hey, at least now there’s a name for it, lol.

        And your bottom line is exactly right!

        January 6, 2012
        • Sofia #

          Haha, “NuNu-Effect.” xD I think that needs to be coined >.<

          January 6, 2012
  52. Sarah #

    sorry guys that was meant to be HAS autism…

    January 6, 2012
  53. Sofia #

    I’m not quite sure to whom you are directing your comment toward, but it popped up in my email as a reply to my comment.

    Monty, my Diabetes Dog, is a service dog, certified and always carrying 3 forms of ID to avoid conflict from businesses and patrons alike. While he’s needed some ‘follow up’ training, he’s never needed ‘re-training.’ He’d been attacked by several dogs (from poodles to rottweilers) and had started becoming leash aggressive and wary of other dogs in our home. We acted quickly to correct his behavior and how he works just fine around other dogs.

    January 6, 2012
    • the comment section has gone bananas – replies are showing up in all the wrong places!

      January 6, 2012
      • Sofia #

        I’ve noticed, haha. Like I said, Glitches do happen now and then. Hopefully wordpress will fix it 🙂

        January 6, 2012
  54. MK Welch #

    My experience is a bit different in that my (then) 7 month old female GSD puppy was attacked and chased by an off-leash Delta therapy dog, a male GSD. Up until then, my pup loved other dogs and had a number of canine buddies. After the encounter with the older male, who by the way did NOT respond to his owner’s commands, she became reactive to other dogs. She and I have worked many hours on control, but I never let my guard down if we’re approached by an unleashed dog.

    Frankly, I think communities could write laws that made owning an unleashed dog which attacks a service dog equal to attacking a human, just as killing or injuring a police dog is treated the same as harming a human police officer.

    January 6, 2012
  55. I got bitten as a child when a beautiful Shepard came up to the fence i passed on my first day at school. He was wagging his tail and i thought he was friendly and reached in a finger to let him sniff it like my own dog. Well i ended up with a bad bite down to the bone and then ripped down half the length of my finger. Children need to be trained about how to behave around dogs, it wasn’t the dogs fault, it was mine.

    My spouse was mauled on his street by the-across-the-street-neighbor’s big mix dog as he was going to his friend’s house down the road. He was knocked down (rural area at the time and only going two houses down) and the dog was snarling and frothing all over his face, the dog’s teeth brushing him with each snarl and bark he made, he was staring down this dogs throat paralyzed with fear… it changed his personality greatly, becoming timid and fearful…. he is so terrified of dogs, that I have seen him freeze at the sight of a dog a block away. Of course dog parks or dog friendly parks are now forbidden zones, and we get ambushed in stores all the time by dogs in bags and cart. I think he is so scarred emotionally that he got limited help from the therapists his family sent him too.

    This was not the dog’s fault either, but the neighbor’s that did not have a fenced in yard and let the dog out the door without a leash. I can only imagine how awful it must have been for you and your service dog. I want to thank you for your article and I will now see what I can do enforcing leash laws in my area. God Bless you and your beloved SD

    Hugs, Louise

    January 7, 2012
    • ahhall hall #

      I disagree.
      “I got bitten as a child when a beautiful Shepard came up to the fence i passed on my first day at school. He was wagging his tail and i thought he was friendly and reached in a finger to let him sniff it like my own dog. Well i ended up with a bad bite down to the bone and then ripped down half the length of my finger. Children need to be trained about how to behave around dogs, it wasn’t the dogs fault, it was mine. ”
      Again the owner is responsible for this dog. not your fault… kids are kids. The dog needed to be trained to the human hand, and not to bite a child at least. IMO there is no excuse for a dog bite.. especially a child. Anyone keeping a dog that would do this kind of damage needs to keep this dog far away from fences where public walk and kid fingers…lol. I have many GSD… they are watched like a hawk with kids until trusted.. and all get the training of kid hands… and are given treats by babies with no problems… they also know not to take food unless offered. Shepherds have big teeth and are a powerful breed. Only those dedicated to training and controling these dogs should have one.
      My opinion… it all falls to the owner…even if the kid is abusive… the owner needs to protect the dog from the kid.

      January 31, 2012
  56. I’m coming to this post a little late (and from another blog entry ( and I’ll admit the comments here – tl;dr, so I don’t know if someone else has said this … IMNSHO, I really wish you’d been able to exchange info because, not only should that careless dog owner been cited for violating the leash law, he also should have paid for the hundreds of dollars in training and equipment, although that $#%^#%^$%^# wasn’t responsible enough to obey the law, so I seriously doubt his ability to be responsible for this either.

    January 26, 2012
    • Marguerite Maddox Jello #


      January 29, 2012
      • Sam Tatters ( #

        While I agree wholeheartedly that other dog owners should not be allowed to ‘get away’ with things like this, but it is not just in the domain of service dog teams; I’ve spent the last 6 months remedially socialising my DINO, teaching him that other dogs and/or people aren’t scary, and there’s no need to be reactive towards them.
        All of his & our hard work was very nearly undone in less than one minute yesterday, by a dog who very clearly has issues & shouldn’t have been off-leash.

        We all, as dog owners, need to be polite & where possible let people know that there is help available for their dogs where it’s needed (as per the dog from my encounter yesterday); or that their dog needs to stay on lead, whether there are leash laws in place, or whether their dog clearly is not happy around other dogs.

        January 29, 2012
  57. S. #

    I would like to know more about the rehabprocess, my dog got bit twice and we’ve been training for months now. I did the mistake of not keeping the training at the level she could handle, I should have stayed at the same level at least one month longer. She was in pain before it happened and was also on medication which probably made everything worse, since she feels a little fuzzy on them. The fact that I was completely unable to fend off the dogs right away made things even worse, mostly because it left me feeling like the worst human in the world. I’m still struggling with the guilt of lettting her down.
    She didn’t touch a hair on either of the dogs that bit, but she sounds like Cujo now (to scare them off), if strange dogs comes to close and stare at her, which is very unpleasant to say the least. She’s my best friend, my family, and pretty much all I’ve got and I can’t bear the thought of her being this scared for the rest of her life.
    But we’re doing progress now, she has “only” barked at four dogs the last two weeks.
    I shall do my very best not to fail her.

    January 30, 2012
    • Hi S.
      I’m sorry this happened to you and applaud you for your efforts to help your reactive dog (she sounds like she is reacting out of fear and rightly so, given what happened to her. The poor girl!).

      There are a lot of ideas for training methods, reactive dog classes, and other techniques that might assist you in this blog:

      I hope that helps and feel free to join us on Facebook – there’s lots of support on the DINOS page.
      Best, Jessica

      January 30, 2012
  58. Shelly #

    I don’t think people think. I have a GSD who I was training in SAR. He was amazing. He got attacked by another GSD at a dog park, seems some guy’s little girl had issues with males. I had to break them up, the other owner just stood there and watched. The guy said he thought a male would ‘put her in her place’, and then she would be fine. *rolls eyes* Since that day, my dog was too anxious around other dogs (especially other GSDs) to continue with the SAR training. He still enjoys all the dogs we worked with previously, and we’ve got to where he’s ok with dogs that are behaving well on a leash. But he’s decided he needs to stop the other dogs before they get him. I’ve been working with a trainer to help him out, but it doesn’t appear that he’ll ever be able to work again. So, now our training is to get him ok with other dogs being around. He’s one of those dogs that just loves to work, and that’s a good thing for me, it helps. I just have to teach him different work skills now.

    So glad Murphy’s story turned out better. Best of luck to the two of you!

    January 31, 2012
  59. Jenn. #

    I had a similar incident when my German shepherd was a pup. We were walking down the sidewalk in town where there is a leash law when this woman pulls into her driveway and let’s her two dogs out of the car. Both came towards the street she managed to wrangle one of them. The other crossed the street in front of cars and went after my pup. I pulled him up into my arms and kept kneeing and shoving the other dog down as it continued to try mauling my shepherd. Eventually the dog must have gotten the idea and it bolted acrossed the street again almost getting hit. The woman never left the spot she was standing on until she had both dogs and she ran inside and never returned to even ask if me and my dog were ok. I can’t believe the ignorance and gal this woman had and then to hide? What if we both had serious injuries? It took years for my dog to be tolerant and not threatening to other dogs we met. Just for us to go to a training facility and have a womans off leash, out of control dachsund come after my dog. My dog responded immediately to my commands but another dog owner had to come grab the attacking dog. I was surprised the dogs owner and trainer were too busy gawking to get it under control on their end. Now my dog is a sink when he sees other dogs. I certainly don’t let him off leash in public. And when people stare as he’s flipping out I just say people like them created this monster. The people who think discipline and leash laws are only suggestion. My dog is five now and I have tried everything but he is still reactive to a large number of dogs and I’ve come to the conclusion that it will probably never change. So thank you to all those selfish, rude, dangerous asshole dog owners out there that make it so uncomfortable for my dog to trust other canines.

    January 31, 2012
    • ahhall hall #

      this is a tragic story, so sorry for you and your dog. I do hope the off lead people can see the potential damage their dogs can do. The pack law is alive and well in our domestic dogs and they are just being dogs. With their owners they are hopefully well behaved. When in public and being introduced to other packs…. It is the owners responsibility to keep their instincts under control or they should not own a dog.

      January 31, 2012
    • Vanessa #

      The second day after adopting my hound mix (Aera) from the humane society I took her out for a walk. I was walking along the street (my dog wasn’t on this other dog/persons property) and I look to the side and see a dog (happened to be a staffie but this isn’t a breed issue) on the other side of a screen door; that door happened to not be closed so next thing you know I have this snarling dog charging at me and my dog. Thankfully it didn’t get my dog but I was left there screaming for help for a good 40seconds while this dog kept growling and lunging at my dog. The owners came out and dragged him back in and didn’t even apologize,

      My hound mix I would never trust off leash except in a dog park, since almost all the people there have well socialized dogs. I think its just common sense to keep your dog on leash in places that ask for it since its for your dog’s safety, no need it in approaching a non-friendly dog. Which is why its important to always ask permission to introduce your dog or yourself to another person’s dog (and assess body language).

      I only know one dog that is basically flawless off leash. He just sits on his lawn and doesn’t move from the borders of the lawnl not for squirrels or other dogs or anything. The only time he does if he knows you and you call him over, even then he only walks to the curb.

      February 8, 2013
  60. Debbied #

    So sorry that Murphy was put in this horrible spot (and you too of course) by an ignorant owner. Leashes are to protect and control for the unexpected (another dog, person, car, etc.)…Letting your dog off their leash “cause you know they’ll obey” is pure ignorance. Sure our dogs can communicate with body language, facial expressions, and such, but it’s not like they can speak and exactly explain their mood of the day, or moment for that matter, and a moment of uncontrolled instant dislike for another dog, or a quick trot into the street to check out something insanely interesting, like an empty bottle, could prove to be a disaster! Not just for the ignorant owners dog, but for others. We as humans have made split decisions that are against our own personalities, so why can’t these owners realize that their dogs are also breathing, living creatures with a lot of the very same qualities of us “humans”. Even those retractable leashes can prove a problem too. And to add one last thing, are the owners that don’t use a leash, but yell commands. Again I feel “wrong” for the reasons I’ve mentioned, but also, how would those owners like being yelled at all the time. We are to love, respect, and protect the animals that we have taken ownership, and care with the utmost responsibility as we would our own children. Bravo for Murphy for over-coming this!

    January 31, 2012
  61. ahhall hall #

    I admire service dogs very much. Thank yoou for shareing your story.

    January 31, 2012
  62. kirsten #

    my service dog (still in training for more tasks but already working) is a BIG dog. she has to be for my specific needs… and it seems to set some medium sized dogs off. like they have to prove they are as big as she is..she has already been attacked repeatedly.. including sad to say by two service dogs…:( yeah…bad bad bad.

    Now my Bella is a odd ball for her breed, she is mellow and dog friendly and stranger friendly, but i knew when i got her that the BREED is not. i also knew that she is very powerful and could easily cause massive damage with one snap. what i didnt know was that every single day i would meet idiot humans trying to get their hands taken off (luckily my dog is stupid friendly) and idiot humans who let their dogs come running right up to my poor dog who is trying to work.

    so not only does she get socialized to the point of obsessiveness, she is NEVER anywhere that isnt pretty darn controlled. the only off leash time is my fenced back yard and completely fenced in dog parks (where i have had to deal with idiots who bring their UNfriendly dogs, sigh). i know for a fact that if she DEFENDED herself it would be the “big scary dog” that got blamed.

    oh, and since on a good day my mobility and balance issues can be invisible, i get the whole “she is just a ESA!” all the time, and my friend gets the whole “fake SD” accusation because her dog is small… people seem to only see Labs as “real service dogs” its very frustratiing

    February 11, 2012
  63. I am so sorry this happened to you Murphy. I hate retractable leashes and dogs on no leashes they are even worse. I grew up knowing about service dog etiquette and didn’t realize how many ill-mannered people are out there until I became a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions. I expected to hear “oh cute puppy” or “look at that pup over there” I was shocked that people would try to pick up my puppy, feed her, and the people I think are the worst would whistle and cat call to distract her. I wish you both long and happy service partnership.

    February 25, 2012
  64. Kayla #

    for any of you who say the leash law is dumb, or it “constricts the dogs natural behavior”, you are being ridiculous! First of all, the leash was invented for a specific purpose, for the CONTROL of your dog. As a dog trainer, I know that when you train a dog, you do everything on leash until the dog has perfected everything, only after you can have the dog listen to every single command off leash in a familiar area, do you take the dog out of that space ON LEASH, and work them in an unfamiliar area still on leash. If the dog is distracted, even on leash, you have a good idea that if the dog sees something, or hears something, or smells something more interesting, you have lost his attention.. If the dog succeeds, DON’T STOP THERE! practice in other unfamiliar places, until you know you have total control of your dogs behavior Not only does the leash provide safety for ones around you, including people, and other dogs, it provides safety to the leashed dog preventing the dog from running into traffic or getting lost. MOST OF ALL AS A DOG OWNER, YOU SHOULD BE CONSIDERATE AND WISE ENOUGH TO KNOW THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO DO NOT LIKE DOGS OR ARE AFRAID OF THEM, THOSE PEOPLE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH YOUR DOG WHETHER IT IS FRIENDLY OR NOT!!!!
    I believe that it should be a law that not just anyone can own a dog… some people cannot even care for their own children who speak the same language and can converse their feelings in an obvious fashion. Let alone a dog, who communicates in body language. ALL DOGS should be REQUIRED to have at least a basic obedience class and PASS it, and all dog owners should be responsible to make sure that their dog understands the persons communication and has a solid knowledge of that obedience.
    ONE MORE THING TO REMEMBER.. even if a dog is taught obedience, it can quickly slip away if you are not consistent with the training or practice. And honestly, it doesn’t take much to take 10 minutes out of your day while you watch your show on TV to leash your dog so you have control, grab a few pieces of dog food and practice the sit and down commands. Go out in the back yard and call your dog to come, when he gets to you give him a piece of food. this is very easy, and it doesn’t take much. Dogs learn from repetition, so the more often it is practiced the better you dog will become. The reason I say to leash while practicing, even if your sitting on the couch as I explained, is because if you tell your dog to sit and the dog just wanders off, you didn’t accomplish anything!!!! But with the dog being leashed, the dog cannot wander, and you can redirect him by taking the piece of food to his nose, you’ll have his full attention. Not only can you use food, but use your dogs favorite toy, some dogs are even just as happy to get some petting and a “good dog” along with a hug and a tight squeeze.

    I myself trained service dogs for many years, it is sad that Murphy’s partner had to lose her independence due to one of these irresponsible, naive owners. I’m sure Murphy could have behaved properly off leash… to become a certified service dog, Murphy and his handler had to PROVE this in order to become a team, but yet Murphy was leashed… out of the respect of everyone else in the world, and for the safety of himself.

    People, open your minds… think about things from views other than just of yours, think of the big picture of why there is a leash law… and the terrible things that can happen without a leash, just like this instance here. If only your freedom was sacrificed due to the consequences… SHAME ON YOU!

    March 29, 2012
  65. Wendy #

    I had the exact same thing happen to me. Having German Shepherds I have found whenever I happen upon someone walking they react like they are aggressive, which they are not. Anyway after encountering a few people who didn’t have their dogs leashed I decided to go for my run early in the morning. All was going well, my GSD attached to me when all of a sudden this cocker spaniel takes off from his owner running right at my dog with hackles raised. I grabbed Marco by the collar as the owner yelled “It’s ok, he’s friendly” Yeah tell that to my dog, the one your dog is rushing at. The guy of course couldn’t catch his dog, the dog lunged at my dog, who took him by the scruff of the neck and tossed him about 6 ft. away.

    This made it easier for the guy to grab his dog. He was quite sheepish and said I don’t understand he has never done that before. I said “that is why I always leash. You never know how your dog will react.”

    Needless to say even though Marco was unhurt, he was only 4 months old, now whenever a dog approaches we go through a lot of anxiety…he is getting better though.

    April 5, 2012
  66. Chantal #

    As much as I agree and understand a lot of whaa coming fro here in the article and comments, the issue comes down to training. And the city. If the city doesn’t have designated offleash areas, but yet has plenty of trails and parks (most don’t, and a tiny “dog park” doesn’t count) then people, I included will let their 100% recall dogs go offleash. I have put years of training on my dogs recall, and yes we go places designated with leash laws. There’s tons of hiking trails here, and parks and backcountry, not too mentione way too many unused soccer fields.. yet they all have a “on leash” sign at the beginning. And all the city gives us is a single “dog park” made of dirt the size of a baseball infield?!?! Yeah people are going to continue letting their dogs offleash because small dog parks are not safe. And they are dirty. Dogs need room to exercise, A tired dog is a happy manageable one.

    It’s training. If people work their dogs to 100% recall, with all levels of distractions, then they too can reap the benefits. I don’t are why owners putting so much work into their dogs be punished

    May 1, 2012
  67. Sarah #

    A similar situation happened to my dog, a pit bull mix, and I while out hiking. I am an extremely responsible owner, as all pit bulls parents have to be due to their bad rap. He is ALWAYS on a leash, neutered, utd on rabies and other vaccines, microchipped, licensed (I even carry the paperwork EVERYWHERE I go with him even though he has tags for it all) and he was trained and socialized from 10 weeks old when I adopted him. We were with about 10 friends, kids and my sister’s Labrador and Chihuahua at a very popular hiking trail. We had stopped to make lunch on a little off path spot, we tied the dogs to a few tree stumps where they were able to sit next to us. We were taking some pictures of the dogs when all of a sudden this rambunctious Labrador runs up and makes a bee-line straight to my dog and bites his face a few times while I’m trying to hold my sister’s chi back (I figured my dog could protect himself a bit better then she could) the owner of the dog is scared to grab his dog because mine’s a pit bull! I’m like c’mon dude my pit bull is sitting there getting his face chewed off by your LABRADOR, so I had to risk my safety and pull HIS dog off of mine! After I pull his dog off my dog snapped back towards it, but did not bite. They dragged their dog back to the trail and frantically searched it’s body for bite woulds and I could hear them saying “that damn pit bull”. Seriously? My dog was tied up and didn’t even bite UNLIKE their dog. Needless to say, my dog usually ignored all other dogs and now he lunges and snaps at just about every dog bigger then him. Now I have to put him in a muzzle and yank on his poor neck to block eye contact with other dogs and just all around retrain him ALL because some idiot doesn’t know how to follow a leash law and I have to pay the price! I chose to take on the responsibility of owning a pit bull but I never knew I’d have to take on the responsibility of other people’s dogs as well!

    May 3, 2012
  68. sharon #

    so sorry about the attack on murphy & the major upset to your life…WOW !!! you two went through a lot !!! and i’m glad he’s doing better now !!!

    after reading about a dozen or so of these comments i was wondering if anyone had any advice about dog parks. i currently do not go anymore…what a bunch of hooey in there !!! so many badly behaved dogs & their humans. i was so excited when we got a puppy & the dog park was one of the reasons…i was really happy to go to dog park BUT that dream soon turned into a nightmare. i’ll admit my dog did some dominant humping but i was ALWAYS there to stop & correct that behavior. some folks never even watched their dogs !!!

    my dog was easy to train, very eager to please, got his AKC good citizen award, but all that went out the window too after so many scraps at the dog park. we also lived in a rural area & he was trained on & off leash…i thought the off leash training would come in handy in case of emergencies. he was really pretty good off leash…but as he got middle aged he started testing me…stubborn little guy…he’s very interested in mamby pambying around & smelling every little thing. all this in the rural area where we lived.

    anyway, we’ve moved away…far, far away…across the ocean in fact. and it’s very different for him here…more urban too…yikes…& i swear by everything that is dear to me i think he hates his leash now !!! he seems apathetic on walks, sad & depressed, no interest in even going outside…even for potty. if there’s anyone out there who knows about this & has any suggestions, words of wisdom, or training techniques that would be greatly appreciated. i’ve tried starting over…food rewards, but it isn’t working !!! HELP !!!

    May 15, 2012
    • Hi Sharon, Dog parks are pretty chaotic – you’re not the only one here that avoids them! I’m sorry to hear your dog is feeling so out of sorts. It may be worth a vet visit, just to make sure this big change in his personality isn’t from something medically related. I also wonder if adding some fun games or puzzle toys to his day might help him perk up. Something like Nosework at home could be a confidence boost and it takes no training – it’s just fun. There are lots of tools and tips in the Resource Guide too: I hope that helps! – Jessica

      May 15, 2012
  69. angela ward #


    June 30, 2012
    • That’s some story Angela, and I’m sorry you’ve had such a life changing experience. I thought this article was about dogs approaching other dogs without permission while out in public, and the result has/is changing the lives of valued service dogs. Perhaps you don’t see you where part of the problem, and likely 50% responsible. You choose to go public and ‘off-leash’ and have your dog unsupervised (you said you didn’t watch all the interactions of your spaniel) and then let your dog approach dogs you didn’t know. By letting your dog loose in public parks and areas, you are contributing to the problem, now your complaining about the jerks you meet as the consequences can be server or fatal. No yelling caps here, just say’n.

      July 1, 2012
      • Angela, what a horrid story and my heart aches for you. With an open mind I will respond to Renee comment about you sharing responsibility. She certainly has some creedence to statement. I never could understand how a multitude of dogs could been penned together off-lease to “mingle”. Then in your case a mix of dogs of small and large. As much as I love Doberman’s (and all dogs), the owner of the dog, if he had half a brain, should realize that purely due to his size he could cause damage, with as little as a running over a small dog,leaving injuries in the quake of his free, happy romp. Now taking into consideration that this very large dog was large enough to actually take down a person leaves me certain that this is not the first time and has happened a multitude of times. A friend of mine had a couple of large dogs and when I would enter, they would happily run to greet me and every time take me down, pin me and lick and slobber till my fresh hair and makeup was soaked. It was like this with all people. This sweet, compassionate friend just someway just didn’t get it that it was fearful entering her home. I had to insist that they were secured and then I could then safely pet & show them the love they wanted…..In my opinion, I honestly feel that the owner of the large “over-powering” dog should absolutely take FULL responsibility. He should have even expected this behavior from his dog, and therefore problems. We need to make level headed decisions for our beloved pets to protect them and others. I wish you continued healing. Debbie


        August 23, 2012
  70. Well said, Every second person I talk to these days has a story to tell, of a bad experience they have had while out walking their dog. I have just written an article titled “Dogs off Leash but not Under Control”

    November 17, 2012
  71. i have two passive females, an irish setter and a smaller mixbreed. both adopted, yet well behaved, and always on leashes.

    i have this problem with one of the family’s down the road. not only do they not put their aggressive large dog on a leash, but they themselves(father and pre-teen son) ride around oblivious on bicycles.. letting the dog run amuk. And occasionally the dog charges at mine. at first i changed my schedule, to avoid running into them, but now i’vve realised that they don’t follow one.. so finally today i told the guy to either put his dog on a leash or stay away from my dogs. he said: “Why? he’s not doing anything.. its a public road..”

    Dude! … I mean really?!

    i have anger management issues when dealing with stupid people like this. Also his son was watching, and i didn’t want to have a child watch his dad get messed up.. so i took a deep breath and walked away.
    now I just visualize the guy getting mauled by someone else’s off leash dog.
    maybe i’m sick in the head

    it really is frustrating. i get what your going through. thanks for the excellent post

    before you start a rant about leashes being cruel to dogs, Please Note:

    i am a reformed off-leash dog walker. i used to let my last dog, a large labrador, run amuk.

    And one day he got stolen.. i somehow managed to recover(long story) him, and then he hurt his leg during another leashless walk.

    After that i grew a brain. kept him on a leash for the rest of his long happy life(14years). He became so well behaved that i could even take him to my office with me and keep him off leash there. and because of him they officially turned it into a dog-allowed workspace!

    February 16, 2013
  72. scott young #

    I disagree as I find leash laws very oppressive to my way of life. In most cities, it is very difficult to find places that allow dogs off leash except dog parks and they are the worst place for good dogs (no space, bad dogs). Maybe cities should do a little more to provide areas to play with dogs off leash. I live in the middle of the rockies where bear are everywhere and even my home owners association has a leash law policy. Sorry, I do not follow it. My dogs are fantastic and have never shown aggression towards anything…dog or other animal. I have no kids, no relationships whatsoever, so my dogs are everything. And I like to play with them off leash. There simply are no options. Even the hiking trails around here have leash laws. So if you make oppressive laws, expect that people aren’t going to comply.
    So maybe the focus should be on people raising and training better dogs. I know you will disagree, but such is the debate that continues in every corner of society. And it will continue. Sucks that the “bad” dogs (bad people) ruin it for everyone. But I will always disagree with leash laws as extensively and as oppressively in place as they are now.

    Oh, and I’ve been around service dogs plenty so I know enough not to interact with them.

    August 19, 2013
  73. Laury #

    My sweet canine good citizen was killed by a dog on a retractable leash that pulled free from her owner.

    September 21, 2013
    • Oh Laury, I’m so sorry. My dog was also attacked by a dog that pulled free of her owner while on a retractable. I wrote about that here:

      I’m just so very sorry for your loss.

      September 21, 2013
      • Andrea Goody #

        every single person I see with their dogs on flexi leashes in pet stores at the dog park you name it I just kindly reference this blog entry. I was in petsmart a few weeks back and a little Pomm is just standing there like 5 feet from the end of the aisle, his clueless owner is about 12 feet away from him, her little dog was very interested in my two big pit bulls, who were leashed with a short lead and wearing the horrendous prong collar as dictated by PA state law, she spots my two and she pulled that poor little pomm right off his feet to get them away from my boys, my boys mind you where way more interested in the turtle tank…I said you woulnt have to do that if you weren’t 15 *blanking* feet away from him, use a short lead in public! flexis should be outlawed.

        March 4, 2014
  74. Ellen McCarthy #

    I know where you’re coming from. My service dog of five years was attacked by a “fake” service dog at Veterans Admin Hospital. What they do — Told me to leave because I didn’t have papers — I told the VA cops I will not leave because READ what’s on his harness ‘CERTIFIED MOBILITY SERVICE DOG” – I said he’s part of my VA medical records and that the VA required the certification even thou its not covered by law. I did have the ADA business brief with me and that’s the only section of a Federal Bldg adheres to.. I said — Out of control and you can have the dog removed — So, remove him, not me… When I get mad I get mad (call me Irish) and finally they got my message and the other dog was removed by the cops.. Well, since that incident his attitude around other dogs change .. It took him over a year to recover his mental scars. It also was time to think about finding another pup to train to replace him. When I got the new pup the scared dog came back.. He didn’t like the pup to be in his face and so I had to separate the two for two years now. FINALLY, in the last two weeks they have accepted each other. I still have to correct the pup from getting to close, but I think he’s finally at peace.

    November 26, 2013
    • WOW, WE, PAWS #




      November 26, 2013
  75. Shaun Adams #

    Kristel, I have a nearly 10 y/o female Doberman (Dana) retired medical alert dog, and a 17 m/o female Doberman (Ava) taking over for her, and we are doing OTJ brush ups now, since she has mastered her basic cues, leash manners, PA manners, and her task training, so we are left with only OTJ brush ups now when we go out. We live in Chicago a few miles SW of downtown. When Dana was 5 y/o, as we were stepping off a CTA bus, a Chow came out of nowhere and attacked Dana. Lucky for you, the owner was behind his dog. This dog had no owner (who was anywhere near him, anyway). Like you, I began kicking the dog, and he wouldn’t let up until I killed him with a real swift kick to the head. So, I know exactly how you felt at that moment. Lucky for me, though, Dana is an incredibly resilient dog, and not a dog who suffers trauma from an attack like that. Dana did what LITTLE she had to do when the dog first showed up, but I was on him in the blink of an eye, and Dana just stood back and watched me kill him. When I was done, I picked up our bags while Dana sniffed at the dead dog, and then we just walked away leaving him lying up against a curb in the street. We did call dead animal removal, but that was it. I really wanted to just leave him lying there until someone drove over him. Attack my dog, suffer the consequences. Good luck with Murphy in the future. Shaun Adams, Dana the Doberman SD (CGC) (PAC) (ret), and Ava the Doberman SDIT (AKC S.T.A.R puppy) (PAC)

    November 26, 2013
    • I’m so sorry this happened to you and Dana and I’m glad to know that you’re both ok. I’m also so sorry that this happened to the Chow. Somewhere down the line, a human is responsible for setting that dog up to fail. Had the dog been properly managed, it might not have suffered such a terrible death and you and your dog would have never been put in a position where you needed to (understandably) defend yourselves that way. It’s a terrible story all around. Wishing you and your dogs safe walks in the future.

      November 26, 2013
      • Shaun Adams #

        Yea, it wasn’t very nice for me, a boy who has trained and raised 14 Doberman and one GSD companion, and 4 working Dobermans, and obviously a dog lover to be pushed to have to do what I did, but I’d do it again if I had to, I’ll say that much. I am INCREDIBLY protective of my dogs. My life all doped up on opiates over the last 10 years is safe only because of them. I would lay down my life to protect them, because without them, I have no life. Well, I have a life that is extremely dangerous. I suffered numerous falls, started 2 cigarette and 1 stove fire, and flooded my kitchen before I got Dana. I am on 3 times the amount of morphine now than I was on then. So Dana and Ava are an absolute necessity in my life, and I would do anything to keep them just as safe as they keep me. Dana is actually retired for the most part now, but I still take her on at least one errand a week that includes a public access venture somewhere, just so she gets some exercise, and doesn’t feel left out because I take Ava most of the time. I really am so sorry that Murphy didn’t get over what happened to him like Dana did. Stories like this are horrible. I mean, ppl can be so ignorant. I walk Dana off leash all the time, but she stays within 10 feet of me, and if I ask her not to play with another dog that’s walking by she won’t. She’s very good about that. Dana isn’t really into other dogs anymore like most dogs are anyway. She was when she was younger, but not anymore. Still even back then she wouldn’t play on the sidewalk.

        November 27, 2013
  76. Rob #

    My dog is on the opposite end of the spectrum. I have a pitbull that was horribly abused, most likely used as a “bait dog.” I have spent hundreds of hours training her and being a responsible dog owner and have her to the point she is wonderful around people and kids. She has no problems with people pulling at her ears or tail and I have never heard her growl at a human. But she does not like other dogs. When I take her anywhere she is always on a leash but my biggest fear is that someone will have their dog off leash and will come in my dogs space and get bit. This not only impacts my dogs well being but the other dog and any people that might get bit just from being in the middle of it.LEASH YOUR DOGS ALWAYS!!!

    November 26, 2013
  77. Kirra #

    Hi Kristal,

    The same exact thing happened to my little sister and her Autism Service dog. I would love to ask you some questions about the aftermath for Murphey. Would love to hear back from you. Thank you so much.

    January 22, 2014
  78. tam #

    I have had this happen a few times upon walking my big malamute, that a dog would run up to mine, and the owner would yell out he’s friendly. I let this happen twice, with my dog going crazy being leashed. Finally the third time, i just yelled back mines not!! and you should have seen how fast the owner would run to get their dogs back on a leash. This was always in a public place, with children, other dogs etc. I got really really tired of having to deal with some morons irresponsibility and lack of control over their own animal. One day i simply let go of my leash and told cole to sit. When the owner saw me not holding the leash he ran to pick up his dog.
    It is NOT my responsibility to control someone elses dog, only mine. I found that someone who would yell out hes friendly! to me while i was holding the leash of a 100 pound plus dog who looks like a wolf is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Now i own three golden retrievers and when i walk i will probably bring a walking stick along with me.

    March 4, 2014
    • Same here. One jerk with a mop dog thought it was cute to let his leash out at my two German Shepherds. The rescue female still has issues and, of course, the male gets protective. Neither of them really like other dogs much. But they were good, thanks to my practicing and actually following directions from people who have also had issues with these idiots. I proactively cross the street, etc. but if that doesn’t work I holler out ‘I have pepper spray and know how to use it’ and they RUN to grab their dog. Of course, I don’t have it, but I do have another spray that I keep forgetting to carry LOL

      Plus, I was in Petsmart one day ::eye roll:: I know, and someone came up to pet my dog without permission. Luckily he is polite but I could tell he didn’t like her and he usually is such a ladies man. So I asked her to step back and she just kept on petting him saying ‘oh well, if he bites me I will just sue’. I just turned around and walked away. Food for thought

      March 4, 2014
  79. L M Ashley #

    My Rottie Mobility Assistance dog was attacked by loose dogs on on 4 separate occasions while she was working in harness. Fortunately for me, she just stood there by my side and turned her face away while the small dogs repeatedly jumped up biting at her until the owners came to retrieve them. After the 4th time she kind of lost her good humor and patience towards obnoxious small dogs.
    We were in the grocery store where someone had brought in their little pet dog that reacted to spotting my dog by barking furiously. My dog surprised me, because she always had been quiet and nonreactive on the job, and let out one huge threatening WOOF that meant, ‘Back off, I’m not going to take any crap from you.’ It did the job, the little one immediately stopped barking.

    March 4, 2014
  80. Mary Taylor Hundley #

    When I walk my dog (puppy mill pomeranian), I keep him on leash. His training is good but he does bark at other dogs. Since I do not know how another dog will react with him, I do not take any chances. When I walk my sister’s dog (rescue mutt), I allow her off leash but I am observant and call her back when I see another dog. I do not allow her to meet other dogs off leash. She is timid and I want to be in control in case of dominant behavior from other dog. I believe that well educated owners can walk dogs off leash. It’s the ones who don’t understand dog behavior that cause the most problems.

    March 4, 2014
    • Good call with your small dog! However, if there is a leash law then dog owners aren’t allowed to walk their dogs off leash, even if they are well educated and their dogs are well trained. It’s the law and no one is exempt from obeying the law. If there is no leash law, then allowing them to be loose but under your voice control and close supervision (as your sister’s dog is), is a legal option.

      March 4, 2014
      • JenniferT #

        Actually, in PA there’s a law that says your dog must be on a leash, *or under your control*. This means if you have a dog that will do a reliable recall and come to heel when told, you can walk off leash. However, should your dog choose not to obey, and causes harm or damage, you are liable just as much as any owner of a loose dog would be. So legal? Yes. Smart? Not so much. Even teh best trained dogs can take a vacation from obeying a recall.

        March 5, 2014
    • Andrea Goody #

      I hope the rescue mutt has a good recall word and that your eyesight is better than his. Observe the leash law even for your own safety keep your dog on a leash.

      March 4, 2014
  81. Jason #

    Similarly we have a pack of 7 dogs at the dog park. It has been formed for a few years now and contains my 4 dogs, a lady’s 2 dogs and another lady’s 1 dog. For the most part all get along and play together well. The other day a lady came to park with her dog. The dogs were jumping at the gate and barking. She just opened the gate exposing her new dog to the pack. Her dog was swarmed. My Aussie was pecking him on the neck trying to get him to run. My Aussie mix wanted to let him know that he was boss. No one was hurt but her dog was a Pitty and the situation could have went south quickly. I’ve had other complain when I asked them to go to the other side or to wait till we get our dogs leashed. There was even one person who dragged his scared dog (tail between the legs) into the park. Another situation I asked someone to wait and got 2 quickly into the area between the 2 gates and went to get my other 2. While doing so the people decided to come in to the park (exposing my dogs to the possibility to leave the park). Then proceeded to open the inner gate when their dog was swarmed. The quickly closed the gate and left the park (exposing my dog again to the outside world). I was at a loss for words. They would not have been able to stop my 90 lb Samoyed. This has become more frequent lately and hard to believe that people would put their dogs into that situation or put other dogs in jeopardy by leaving the single back gate open. A friend’s dog wondered out the back gate and luckily came back in about 20 minutes (parks and rec has since put auto-closers on the gates to solve this). I know my dogs are not the best but at least let me get them on lead. Half-way tempted to put up a sign but I doubt they would read it.

    I really like the point you made about introducing dogs and many people don’t get it.

    Have you heard about The Yellow Dog Project?

    March 4, 2014
    • Dog parks present us with a whole different set of challenges and most people have differing ideas about what the “rules” are for appropriate dog park ettiqutte. Dog parks a little like the Wild West – fun, but risky. Because of what you mention, many of us skip them in favor of off leash areas where we can control who enters (like someone’s yard). If that’s not possible for you, maybe your group can rotate a person standing right at the gate to slow down incoming dogs. Few people will know what a yellow ribbon means, so I’d guess that wouldn’t improve communications at the dog park much!

      March 5, 2014
  82. Jennifer #

    Thank you! I do not have a service dog, just the opposite, I am my Dog’s service person. My dog was born with a high anxiety disorder and as never been completely comfortable around people or other dogs. The worst is when an unleashed dog comes up to us. I have to educate the other dog owner that while their dog might be “friendly” my dog is nervous and has no where to run. A leash is a protection for everyone.

    March 4, 2014
  83. Cat S. #

    My co-worker and her Pomeranian were out for a walk in a local park recently when they were rushed and attacked by an off-leash Rottweiler. My friend was bitten on the arm when she tried to get the Rott to let go of her dog. The Rott’s owner looked her dog over, said “It looks like she’s fine,” and walked away before my friend could even ask for his information. Her dog was not fine, her thick coat hid the fact that she had been torn up during the attack. Her dog required surgery and afterwards refused to eat. It took weeks for her to recover. Both my friend and her dog came out of the experience traumatized and depressed. If you insist on walking your dog off leash, muzzle it for it’s own protection, let alone anyone else’s.

    March 4, 2014
    • Sam Tatters #

      Do you know how psychologically damaging it would be for a dog to either be walked on leash or off-leash in a muzzle? For a small amount of dogs it’s a necessity (or law, in the UK), and if they have a responsible owner they will do what they can to ensure that the dog in question receives adequate free exercise in a manner which is safe for everyone.

      But all dogs need some time to be free, to be a dog, to explore, to put things in their mouth. The problem here isn’t the un-muzzled dog, it’s the irresponsible owner…

      March 5, 2014
    • laureen #

      I think attacks are more common than are reported. We only hear about pitbulls. I’ve endured 3 dogs attacks on my dogs and 2 were fatal. It can be split second before you can react. The other owners always act shocked. Our dog can never have enough training. Train. Train. Train.

      March 5, 2014
      • Im very sorry that happened to you. So many of these incidents happen when the dogs (of any breed or mix) are loose and out of their owner’s control. So while training is very important, it’s not enough on its own. Proper management (obeying leash laws, supervising our dogs, etc.) is critical too.

        March 5, 2014
  84. I am so genuinely sorry that you had to experience this. I can’t imagine the sense of helplessness that both you and Murphy had to suffer through. I work at a vet hospital and I try to educate everyone that I can about basic proper K-9 handling. Owners truly are ignorant of the seriousness of situations such as yours. They will let their dogs bump noses with strangers dogs and strangers kids without a second thought. And when things go wrong the act like they have no idea what happened and of course it wasn’t their fault. Best we can all do is educate, educate and educate some more. One person can teach another and so on. It broke my heart hearing your story. Thank God that Murphy was able to recuperate. I hope neither of you have suffer like this again.

    March 4, 2014
  85. Andrea Goody #

    I have a dog selective dog, he LOVES his pack but he is super unsure of new dogs…we try to go to the dog park at least twice a week but sadly being pit bull parents we go at really odd times of the day when there are hardly any people and dogs there because I hate to keep Charlie leashed while his brother and sister run wild playing and retrieving their bird dummies (they think they are black labs but I don’t tell them otherwise) we often go to a park with 3 large areas all separated by fencing…we go in the enclosures alone with our dogs while 5 or 6 dogs play on the other side, I cant tell you how many times another owner will say “why don’t you guys just come over here, don’t be anti social” I explain that Leo is super dog friendly but Charlie was rescued from a shelter from a hoarding situation and is a crap shoot so we prefer to play alone. One woman went as far as to say “oh just let him come in and we’ll see what happens” NO….I would never put Charlie in a position like that and went on to explain to the woman that even if we came in there and Charlie was fine with your dog but a while later a different dog came in and upset the balance I couldn’t ensure the safety of everyone’s dog. Don’t try to force yourself on a dog whose owner has already told you they prefer being in the enclosure alone, don’t try to just see what happens, let Charlie enjoy those 45 minutes of being able to be off leash and run free for a change.

    March 4, 2014
  86. Ben #

    It bothers me that people argue for leashes. That’s not the problem. The problem is having control of your dog. This type of encounter can still happen if the owner has the dog on a leash, but is otherwise irresponsible. If you can’t control your animal, you shouldn’t be in a position where others have to defend against your incompetence. Also, you should have gotten the other person’s info and pressed charges. There’s no reason you should have to suffer for their lack of responsibility. I really hate leash laws and wish we could change them out for control laws. If your dog is well trained, you can give others all the space they need without tying your dog to your hip.

    March 6, 2014
    • I agree with you that dogs on leash can still do damage and need to be trained and properly controlled while on leash. I’ve written about that here as well. However, leashes are still the most basic, affordable, effective, and easy to use form of control and management available for all dogs and owners. Training is awesome, but even the best trained dogs have off moments and wind up getting into trouble. Plus, it’s far easier to regulate and enforce leash laws than control and training laws.

      Further, there are many people, including the disabled and senior citizens, who are afraid of dogs, even well behaved ones. Just seeing the leash helps them to feel more secure around strange dogs. Here’s a great cartoon that helps us all empathize and better understand what it’s like for people who are afraid of any off leash dog:

      And here’s more from me on the topic:

      March 6, 2014
  87. Lori #

    Hi,I totally agree with u all dogs should be on leashes ,I have service dog also he is small 9pds,he is well trained and I always get afraid that a bigger dog is going come up to him and bite him,when he trying to do his people let there dogs are off the leash..he does let me know when something not right with another dog also…good luck thanks for the update ,

    March 11, 2014
  88. Leah #

    I feel your pain. Me and my 2yr old shepherd, out on a walk get attacked by a dog as well. My dog gets an infection from the puncture wounds in his neck and is terrified of all dogs. Trying so hard to re-socialize him…..what is wrong with the owners these days?

    March 15, 2014
  89. Freddy #

    I am thankful that your SD was able to recover from such a traumatic incident. My *now former* SD ( a miniature poodle) was attacked by a large dog on a retractable leash about 15 feet from my front door. I was able to pick her up before he had her caused significant harm to her. He jumped up on me in an attempt to get her out of my arms knocking us both to the ground. Thankfully neither of us sustained any serious physical injury from the incident. However my former SD never psychologically recovered. She would cower around other dogs, even those she had been around her whole life. I worked with her for over 2 years to attempt to correct the behavior. Finally I accepted that she would not be able to do SD work any longer. She was retired in 2012.

    June 17, 2014
  90. Allison #

    I wish people would obey leash laws too!! For everyone’s sake. I carry “Stop That” spray when I walk my dog because off leash dogs run up to us all the time in our neighborhood where dogs are supposed to be leashed. Dog friendliness is not black and white. You cannot ask a dog to get along with 100% of other dogs anymore than you can ask a person to get along with 100% of other humans. The irony is that most of those people are afraid of my dog because she is a mixed breed shelter dog that most people would label a pit bull. But, I am the responsible dog owner. Not them. She is trained, socialized, confident, and walked ON A LEASH. I am sorry for what you went through. People need to realize that it’s not about how good their dog is, or what their dog’s breed is or isn’t- it’s THEM. Be a responsible owner!

    July 15, 2014
  91. Megan #

    I completely agree with this story. You have to leash up you dog, because dogs are animals and so are humans. Everybody is unexpected at one point. You might just get mad and dogs are the same. It doesn’t matter how nice your pooch is, anything could happen. Also, I know this is irrelevant, but does anybody know a way to get a dog walking certification? Believe me, I’ve looked everywhere and found nothing. Have I not mentioned too that I’m almost 13. I cannot find a program that allows 13 year olds to earn a certificate to officially become a dog walker. I love dogs and all animals. I sometimes just spend the day at my local pet shop to play with the dogs, cats, and birds too. See, the pet shop lets the cats and dogs and sometimes the birds roam around and do as they please. They are all well behaved and create amazing fun. They have let me walk two of their dogs once, except the owner passed away, and the new one says I need a certificate. Although it may seem selfish, I would love to play with those animals and walk those dogs again. I loved them! And I still do. My point is, I would love to continue walking those dogs and also expanding my dog walking to walk my neighbors dogs too, but I can’t. Not without a certificate at least. Can somebody help?

    July 17, 2014
  92. hazel #

    what a shame glad he is getting better i have to say as a dog owner if there is a leash law i would do as asked and leash my dog otherwise she’s off lead but ignores dogs unless they come to her then she plays i have had a few dogs charge at my girl and go to attack her luckily she was off lead and was able to run off behind me while i gave the owners a good talk telling them to control there dogs around other dogs and also reported it my dog is very friendly and will not fight she will just run and hide behind me. I the only affect it had on my girl is she will now bark if a dog barks at her but will never attack if the other dog did she will run away from it i wish people would train there dogs right no dog should just run up to another dog hope Murphy gets better as the days go by good luck xx

    July 25, 2014
  93. Roland Magill #

    I am alarmed and saddened, being the owner of a service dog, about this situation. If your dog is outside of your residence, it needs to be leashed at all times! It is the law. Also, being an individual that grew up on a ranch around all types of animals, I understand and so should others that previous good behavior by a dog is not a guarantee or indicator for future behavior. Don’t think your previously well-behaved dog can’t get into a scuffle with another dog. It happens all the time. This is after the fact, but if you are the owner of this service dog or any other dog with the aim to keep safe during a walk, consider carrying a stun baton for the protection of yourself and your animal if they are legal where you live. I don’t walk either of my dogs without one.

    August 14, 2014
  94. Rusty #

    “Each of us should have the right to decide how we socialize our dogs and not have that decision made for us.” You just contradicted yourself. It should be the owners choice to allow their dog off a leash if the dog is under full control of the owner. Everyone human being is unpredictable as well as dogs, that’s the way the world is. You’re telling me you would want to live your life with a string attached to your neck wherever you went even in the woods? That is not a life to live and dogs don’t deserve it. I’m sorry but I will happily walk my two dogs unleashed while abiding by others. I know other people may not like dogs that’s why I call them and have them sit next to me until they pass. Everyone has their own opinion doesn’t make the government law correct. Every state’s law is different concerning leash laws, so quit with the harsh thoughts of people being unresponsible who walk their dogs without a leash safely.

    September 12, 2014
    • That’s great that your dogs are so well behaved, but even the best behaved dogs have off moments. Therefore, we all have to obey the law. There are tons of designated off-leash areas (many hiking trails included) where dogs are legally allowed off leash.

      For some people, particularly the disabled, just seeing a dog off leash is scary. The leash is a visual signal that they’re less likely to have an unwelcome interaction with a strange dog and therefore they don’t need to panic. Take a look at this guy’s post to get a different perspective on why we all need to obey leash laws. It’s a matter of empathy:

      September 12, 2014

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