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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

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The author and her beloved pooch.
The author and her beloved pooch.

Train your dogs, people

There are two kinds of dog owners out there. Good dog owners and bad dog owners.

You qualify as the latter if you let your untrained dog wander off-leash. An untrained dog is one that does not obey commands and/or attacks people and/or other dogs/animals unprovoked.

The other morning, I met just such an "untrained dog" and "bad dog owner" on a trail that is OK for off-leash dogs.

I have, in fact, met this particular dog and its lovely owner a few times. I jog on this trail and this dog owner walks with her friend and a pack of five dogs of different sizes and personalities.

The untrained dog is a small, Chihuahua mix who – like a bull seeing red – charges me upon each encounter.

I had enough the other day and decided to address the issue with the owner I stopped my workout. (Mind you it takes quite a bit to motivate me to stop mid-fitness. I just don't do that.)

I said "hello" and calmly asked the owner to please keep her dog on leash, as every time we meet on the path, her dog attacks me.

She proceeded to tell me to, "Go to hell."

Yes. This is one BAAAAAAAAAD dog owner. And obviously the apple does not fall far from the tree. I explained to her that I was not trying to pick a fight; I was merely trying to share the path with her and her dogs.

That incited more curses, yelling, her telling me I scared her dog by "running at it" and then turning her back and walking away.

Now, I may be a bit hypersensitive about this issue, as when I lived in Los Angeles, Bo – my blind, almost toothless, angel of a rescue dog with dislocating knees – was attacked not once, but twice by off-leash dogs.

Both times, I was walking Bo on leash in our neighborhood and off-leash dogs bolted from out of nowhere at my defenseless dog. Bo ended up at the Animal Emergency Center twice. But he is a survivor and came through each incident a tougher canine.

To say we've been traumatized is an understatement.

Seeing dogs off leash makes my heart palpitate until it is confirmed the dog is trained and not a threat. And even then, I cannot deny the simple truth that even though pets become members of our families, they are still animals. And animal behavior can be quite unpredictable.

I implore you. If your dog is not trained, please keep it on lead. Yes, even if it is a small dog.

If there is a sign stating that "all dogs must be on leash" then by all means, even if your dog is as good as Cesar Millan's departed "Daddy" (may he rest in peace), please just do it.

I should not be afraid to share a trail with irresponsible dog owners. Train your dog. They love the structure and discipline and will be happier for it We all have to share the road, trails and paths. Leash laws are for a good reason.

And while we're at it ... those laws about picking about your dog's poo? Those apply to YOU too. The non-poo-picker-uppers are usually the same folks who aren't training their dogs.

This is the whole reason they double plastic bag at grocery stores people – to fund the world's supply of poop bags for good dog owners.

See? There is even material reward for responsible dog ownership, with the bonus immeasurable pleasure of the companionship of a happy, loyal, obedient pet.

Talkbacks

rabid652 | Sept. 1, 2011 at 10:32 a.m. (report)

Luckily, in my more athletic days, competitve cycling was my chosen sport and I could simply outpedal almost any rabid dog that was unleashed. However, I did have to kick a few and I have know people who were seriously injured by bad dog owner's negligence. Those owners faced significant lawsuits which seemed to work because we rarely was those dogs again.

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DustyPockets | Aug. 30, 2011 at 4:07 p.m. (report)

Hckyboy00 If you would have read my entire post you would have understood that the dogs in my case barked and whined all day, not just when I was standing at the door, and not just and an occasional bark at a passer by or squirrel -- I'm talking all day, for long periods of continuous whining. My point to the gal was that they do bark and whine and their behavior at the door was similar to that when I was not at the door. She seemed to think they were incapable of making noise at all. Considering she was not home all day, how would she know what was going on? I started kindly and escalated from there as she was oblivious. As to your neighbors, I'm only guessing that they were not complaining that the dogs were barking while they were on your porch leaving a note, rather, they meant it as an example of what your dogs were doing while they were NOT on your porch, which is disturbing the peace while you were away. There are good responsible pet owners out there, but this article points out the bad; so that is all we are doing here -- pointing out the bad and vetting our stories of frustration.

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Jaime | Aug. 29, 2011 at 1:58 p.m. (report)

Its terrible that there are responsible dog owners who can take their dogs to a park that doesn't allow leashes only to be ruined by a dog that should be on a leash. No matter where I go I keep running into that jack arse who doesn't think much of it or do anything. My dogs do bark when people come towards the house but they don't jump on the window and almost break it like I've seen some dogs do in my neighborhood so if that's your dog get your dog in check too. People have to stop saying that they are animals and that's what they do. Keep your dog active and in check.

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Hckyboy00 | Aug. 27, 2011 at 1:04 a.m. (report)

I have to disagree with you DustyPockets. I have had the pleasure of neighbors leaving a note telling us that while they were standing in front of our house, our dogs were barking. Well no $#%* sherlock, they are guarding their property, and clearly find two strangers standing in front of the house, staring at it to be a threatening gesture. Both our dogs have gone through training, and are fairly obedient when off leash (sometimes, the urge to sniff butts is irresistible, they also tend to lose their minds when people squat down and coo at them), but calling it 'disturbing the peace' is a bit excessive. As a matter of fact, it's a bit grumpy old man 'get off my front yard'-ish. Our dogs do not bark when people they know come to the door; the girl who lives upstairs, our friends, family, the mailman, or the landlord. However, if they do not know you, they will let you know that there are dogs in the house, and they will protect it.

However, that is just my case, two doors down we have a neighbor who leaves his dog on a long leash in a non-fenced yard, sometimes for 16 hours at a time, now that dog barks all day and all night, and having a fence to help block his wandering eyes would probably help a ton. Considering the fights i hear him and his wife have, i don't think he is the best dog owner either, but in either case, your story can have two sides. Just because unattended dogs are barking, doesn't mean they are misbehaving, they may simply be protecting...or yes, they could be terribly trained dogs. Our trainer always told us, there is no just thing as a misbehaving dog, only misbehaving owners.

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mikeb | Aug. 26, 2011 at 2:54 p.m. (report)

There's a total lack of trail ettiquette out there. From people who do not have their dog on a leash to people who feel the need to jog either on the wrong side of the path or with a partner right down the middle. It's become nearly impossible to ride a bike on the Oak Leaf, which is supposed to be a bike path after all

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