During my tenure as a dog walker, I found that not all of my clients’ neighbors were particularly thoughtful dog owners. When walking your dog, you have every right to enjoy as stress-free a stroll around the neighborhood as possible. Here are some tips for working toward that goal.
Incessant barking, aggressive, or free-roaming dogs all have the potential to derail your training sessions or make walks with even a well-trained, well-socialized dog extremely unpleasant. The first line of defense against any of these situations is open communication. Do not be afraid to confront your neighbor, politely, clearly and firmly, regarding any problem you are having. You may find that your neighbor was not even aware that there was a problem and works to address it immediately. If the problem continues, however, you may want to consider contacting local law enforcement or a third-party mediator.
One of the most common complaints people have about their neighbors’ dogs is barking. Barking is an important means of communications for dogs. However, incessant barking is not only disruptive to neighbors; it’s also an indication that the barker is stressed out and insecure about his environment. For these reasons, this particular issue is covered under federal, local and state noise ordinances.
Many people choose to leave their dogs tied up outside for portions of the day. Sometimes this may cause no problem at all. However, I myself have encountered both extremely aggressive dogs tied in the front yard and dogs tied on a long enough line that they can still run into the street to charge the dog I’m walking. If you can not find an alternate route, situations like these can become dangerous.
I have also encountered dogs left in their front yards without any form of restraint or proper supervision. The owners of these dogs are often under the impression that this is okay because either: their dog is friendly, or they do not believe that their dog would leave the property. This is an extremely dangerous situation, potentially for everyone involved. Even if a roaming dog is friendly, he may approach another dog who is not; he could even get hit by a car while crossing the street to do so. Furthermore, there are very few dogs who, given the choice, would never leave their property. Leash laws exist in most every locality for these reasons, among others. In my opinion, we all have an obligation to address such situations for the safety of the roaming dog as well as ours and our dogs’.
While confronting a neighbor about his or her pet can be daunting, it is often necessary. Often times, serious conflict can be avoided through a polite, yet frank conversation. In a residential area, all humans and pets need to share the space; and this means that everyone has to do his or her part to keep that space safe and pleasant. If your neighbor isn’t living up to his end of the bargain, you have every right to stand up for your and your pet’s happiness and safety.
Guest Contributor–Danielle Grand has spent the last decade working to parlay her affinity for animals into a dog training career. While earning her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she was involved in an experimental study on canine cognition. She has also obtained her dog training certification from Animal Behavior College and attended numerous dog training seminars conducted by respected behaviorists. At home in New York’s capital region, she works closely with colleagues and mentors to expand her expertise; she hopes to help forge strong, happy relationships between many dogs and their humans.