Pictured: what happens when your dog stays inside a lot. Also, follow my dog on Instagram.
Pictured: what happens when your dog stays inside a lot. Also, follow my dog on Instagram.
Photo by Lynda Rouner

Leash Your Dog, I Don’t Care If It's “Friendly”

I live in a very pet-friendly apartment complex. There are poop stations all around the perimeter, and even a little private dog park for the residents to use. It’s dinky, I’ll admit, but it’s big enough for a fair game of fetch. Plus, you can sit down on a bench while your dog figures out what I assume are the complicated astral coordinates that determine where it can finally take a dump. It’s even open 24 hours. It’s the perfect place to take your dog off the leash and let him or her have a little run around or a lie in the warm grass.

The other place it’s appropriate to do that? NOWHERE.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been on a nice walk around the complex and suddenly had another dog come bounding up to us sans leash, often even sans collar. I bring my dog to heel, and start to back away. All the while the dog’s owner comes walking over, screaming, “Don’t worry, he’s/she’s friendly.”

To which I always scream in response, “MINE’S NOT!”

My dog loves every living creature on planet Earth except other dogs. When we rescued her, she had clear bite marks from other dogs on the top of her skull. As you can tell from the picture above, that’s a pretty damned big head, so the dog that got it in its jaws must have been a freakin’ monster. I don’t know if she was a fight dog or just a dog that got in a fight, but other dogs send her into immediate aggression. We’ve tried slowly acclimating her to others, and it doesn’t work. Which is why I keep her on a sturdy harness with a strong grip on the leash.

I don’t think people consider this possibility when they decide lease guidelines and leash laws are optional for their “friendly” dog. Just because you think your puppy wouldn’t hurt a fly doesn’t mean someone isn’t going to get hurt, and I am not going to have mine put down, infected with whatever yours might have, or be responsible for your dog’s vet bills.

And make no mistake, your dog, no matter how “friendly,” will fight if it feels threatened. Dogs don’t have a language the way we do. They can’t say, “Hey, bro, I’m sorry I got in your face. Let’s get a drink and talk it over.” There is no de-escalation. If your dog and mine get crosswise, nothing is going to keep either of them from trying to bite each other’s throat out.

To which I imagine some people are saying, “Well, your dog seems to be the problem.” Yeah, she is. I found a solution to that problem. It’s called a leash, and they are required by law in virtually any place but a dog park for many specific reasons. I don’t take my dog to public dog parks or even the apartment one when other dogs are there because of how she is, and I really miss doing that because my previous puppy loved it.

I get that people want to sit on the porch with their dog at their feet, or have them run free over the grass like you see in the movies. I respect that wish, but you have to be aware of what dogs are, both yours and ones you don’t know. You have to prepare accordingly.

For all I know, the dog that put the holes in my puppy’s head was “friendly” too.

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