The Neighbor And The Dog

by admin on May 1, 2014

A little back story before I get to the etiquette question. Earlier this week, I got a call from animal control saying one of my dogs ran onto the sidewalk, barked at a woman jogging by, then ran back into the yard. Animal control just verified that I need to keep my dog on my property, and move my electronic fence if I need to. No problem, this dog is 7 months old, and still learning where the fence is. My fiance and I don’t leave them in the yard, they only go out to potty, when they’re outside for extended periods I’m always right there with them. I watch from the window while they make potty, but at this instance, my fiance wasn’t watching them. He tells me he heard the puppy barking, so he went to go bring him in.

We’re continuing to work with him on learning where the fence is.

Yesterday, I had just left my house driving to work when a woman I’d never met who was jogging by started wagging her finger at me and practically jumped in front of my car. I rolled down my window, and she curtly asked me if my dogs were in. I was relatively confused, but I told her that they were. She then proceeded to tell me that she called the police because my dog left the yard, and that he barked at her and she screamed at the top of her lungs.

At this point, I introduced myself, because this situation seemed so odd to me.

I explained that the fence is on, but that the dog is young, and still learning where the fence is. I mentioned that the dogs do make a lot of noise, but they are not aggressive.

She seemed very worked up/angry like she was looking for some sort of argument with me, but I was too confused by the interaction. I’m not sure why she wanted to talk to me directly when she had already talked to the authorities. Which was entirely fair, my dog left my property, she was in the right to do that if she didn’t want to speak to me directly.

I asked her if she was afraid of dogs, and mentioned to her that there are quite a few dogs in the neighborhood that leave the yard. She said no, she has her own dogs, she seemed mostly upset because my dog is a doberman. In all fairness, he can’t help that, he was born that way.

This made me more confused, quite honestly, since dogs bark. All the neighborhood dogs bark. Still, they are absolutely not legally allowed to leave the property without leashes. That is entirely my bad (or technically, the fiance’s bad). I’m doing everything I can to keep my dog in the yard. It’s difficult with runners or fast animals, and believe me, I don’t want my dog to leave the yard; he could get hit by a car.

I was off to work, so I said my goodbye at that point.

The etiquette part comes in here: how do I interact with this neighbor in the future? She seemed disproportionally angry. Do I smile and wave? Do I gun it and fly past her next time I’m driving by? I tried being pleasant and explaining that I was trying to take care of the situation, but that didn’t seem to make her happy, which makes me think it’s better to try to pretend I don’t see her in the future? 0429-14

1.  Thank God she is willing to talk to you since this is an opening to resolve the issue without it being further escalated to government authorities.
2.  Do not diminish your neighbor’s perspective that your Doberman is aggressive.   The dog came running to her, off its property, barking and most people would consider that an unfriendly act at minimum.
3. Don’t blameshift to other people’s dogs.  The issue is your dog’s behavior.  Yes, dogs bark for all kinds of reasons but the issue is that your dog ran to her barking in a manner that was perceived to be aggressive.  That is much different than the neighborhood dogs having a barking convention across the yard fences.
4.  I don’t think you accepted full accountability for not restraining the dog’s actions but rather seemed to explain them which was not assuaging your neighbor’s angst.

I would have apologized profusely without explaining myself because the bottom line is that while you are usually vigilant in watching the dogs outside, this time you or your SO were not and an incident happened that resulted in the police being called.  And when you see her the next time, say “Hello” and ask her if there have been any further problems when she goes running past your house.   This will convey to her that you 1) take her seriously; 2) you are pro-actively addressing the problem; and 3) you have an interest in solving a neighbor problem in an edifying manner that benefits you both.

{ 148 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca May 1, 2014 at 10:42 pm

One of two things could have happened here (or any variation in between):

1) This neighbour is hysterically overreactive about dogs. The dog stepped off the property barking, and all of a sudden it’s, “This dog lunged at me aggressively and I was in imminent danger.” Screaming at the owner after the fact does seem rude to me. What’s wrong with, “Oh hey, can I talk to you? Your dog came out of your yard after me and scared me. Can I ask that you please take more care to make sure the dog stays on your property?”
OR
2) This dog is nippy and aggressive and the owners are in denial as well as lax in training.

I’ve seen both scenarios. When I was a kid a woman came out of her house screaming at us to get our leashed dog off her lawn. One of his front paws had touched her grass as we rounded the corner of the sidewalk.

I’ve also been bitten by small, loose dogs that were not considered aggressive breeds, and the owner was incredibly surprised because “he never bites” and “he’s always so friendly.

There’s a balance. I think this neighbour overreacted by leaping out in front of the OP’s car to scream at her, but the OP should also supervise her dog more closely henceforth.

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NostalgicGal May 1, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Both sides on this one.

I would say rather than invisible fence, put in a nice real fence. There are many good looking ones that can be an asset to your property. Even not fully grown, a dog like that would certainly scare the jeebers out of me if it came running across the open.

Neighbor overreacted some; stay calm and do keep talking. Responsible dog owners will step up over what goes on between their 4 legged kid and the rest of the world. Seeing you take actions and being pleasant and proactive should cure a lot of issues.

Yes I’ve owned dogs; and I have also met many great dobies, but. Not everyone knows every dog.

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Allie May 1, 2014 at 11:27 pm

If you want to have a Doberman, I think you should get a real fence. As for your question, I’d probably ignore her, but then I like to avoid confrontation whenever possible.

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Leslie May 2, 2014 at 10:41 am

You may want to check your homeowner’s insurance. Our company had different rates for those with a fence and those without when owning a breed considered potentially aggressive -we had a German Shepherd.

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MichelleP May 2, 2014 at 12:24 am

While I agree the neighbor handled it poorly, this is entirely the OP’s fault. It’s good that she is accepting responsibility, however. I love dogs but hate owners who don’t control them.

Several years ago my ex and I bought our home. Our daughter was a toddler. The next door neighbor had THREE huge St Bernards. They were always out. All over the neighborhood. They weren’t aggressive, but just being friendly they could have hurt someone. I talked to them repeatedly to no avail. I realized that they had moved when I hadn’t seen anyone at the house in a while, and they had left the dogs behind! Great, now we have them on the loose and not being taken care of. I called animal control repeatedly and was told nothing could be done. I went above their heads and eventually did get them taken away. It ruined the first year of living in our own new home.

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MichelleP May 2, 2014 at 12:28 am

My other pet peeve about dog owners: I live out in the country, and a lot of people I know have dogs that are always loose. Then they get upset when the dog gets run over. Just recently on Facebook, a post about a relative’s dog who got hit, “Who would do such a thing??” Uh, cars belong in the road. Dogs do not.

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NostalgicGal May 2, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Another pet peeve about living in the country; people that bring their pets out and dump them; and you find them at your doorstep or worse run over in the road. These people if caught justify about ‘oh I’m sure they’ll find a good home, a farm living family always needs a: dog, cat, rabbit, etc’ Housepets don’t know how to take care of themselves and when dumped are usually lonely, confused, scared, and quickly-starving. (when they decommissioned Langley AFB in Denver, every animal control and shelter banded together, went in there a week later, and rescued over 100 abandoned pets. Because of that there was legislation that hit the system about having accountability for military families by chipping the pets and if they got reassigned, the pet got traced too…. I do not know where that went, I hope it went through).

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MichelleP May 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I’ve been there, done that as well. When I lived in Germany with my now ex husband who was army, military families were so notorious about abandoning animals that German shelters refused to adopt animals to soldiers.

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Gabriele May 2, 2014 at 3:56 am

I think the fiance should go over and apologise to the neighbor and make the same request that they be contacted if the dog escapes. Since it happened when the dog’s care was his responsibility, his apology should make it easier for the neighbor to be more open with the OP.
I would also suggest finding (soon!) a dog obedience course that both owners can go to, and let the neighbor know, perhaps even (if the course isn’t expensive) let other neighbors know about it. And yes, it will be good for the dog; dogs do like to learn and to have boundaries, it gives them a sense of security.
One other thing: some developments don’t allow physical fences (structures) so that could be why they are using the electric fence…and it sounds liek some neighbors are using the electric ones as well…

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Brit May 2, 2014 at 6:22 am

“I watch from the window while they make potty”

Meaning that if they run past the fence again, you can’t stop them because you’re indoors. Or do you think you can run faster than a young Doberman?

And I’d bet you $$$ it WILL run out again, probably while ‘doing potty’. As you run out of the house some way behind it.

Yes, she’d spoken to the authorities. So? Now she’s talking to you, and your “Are you afraid of dogs? He’s learning the fence,” instead of, “I am so sorry!” makes you sound like you just don’t get what a responsible dog owner is.

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Jinx May 2, 2014 at 10:57 am

I’m sorry, he wears 2 e-collars when he’s out, one for the fence and one I hold the remote to.

So, if he does leave the fence, I can manually shock him if necessary, for his own protection. I don’t trust the fence collar totally. It only shocks once, and he could keep going. The manual one,

I’m not sure what to do.

the older one is excellent with limits, and always comes when she’s called (even after she started bolting after deer), so I figured the younger one would be equally good. Everyone in the neighborhood has e-fences (though a couple of people have no barriers-yikes) because most of us are surrounded by trees.

I would absolutely love a physical fence, but as I’m felling trees, I’ll probably break the fence if one falls on it (absolutely surrounded by trees). I absolutely don’t want him to leave the yard. I’m terrified of him getting hit by a car, if nothing else.

Has no one had luck with e-fences?

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JustSaying May 2, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Why not just walk the dog on a leash until you can put in a physical fence? Or, invest in a sturdy stake-and-tether system.

Frankly, you should not be allowing your dogs out of your home without some physical restraint to keep them under control. A electric fence is never going to be reliable for an agitated dog, especially one that only shocks once.

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La May 2, 2014 at 3:35 pm

You could always fence off the back part of your garden and only let him out in the back garden. That’s what most people here do, so you still have a pretty front garden, but your back is safe for dogs and children to play in without having to worry about them wandering off and getting hurt.

Also, we’ve had trees felled in our back garden, and as long as you pay attention to the physics of the thing, you can control which direction they fall in and cut the top bits off so they don’t hit your fence.

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crebj May 2, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Doesn’t seem to be working. Try something else.

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JeanLouiseFinch May 2, 2014 at 10:02 pm

E-fences are all too easy for some dogs to barrel through. We had a male Labrador who could climb right over our real fence, so we put in an e-fence. The e-fence worked great for our other 2 dogs, but it took our big boy about 2 months to decide that the shock was worth it. As others have pointed out, you either need to fence off at least part of your back yard, or you need let the dog out only on a long leash and attach him to the house or stake him out in the yard. Additionally, you need to start walking him up and down your street and getting him acquainted with your neighbors, explaining that he is very young and if they see him out, they should call you. If he appears to be friendly with them, they might hold onto him for you until you can come and get him. It is better to get him socialized well when he is young anyway. The last thing you want is for him to get into a fight with a neighbor’s dog and bite someone when they are trying to separate the dogs. Believe me, I know, as an attorney, I have litigated dog bite cases and most states have a statute imposing automatic liability on a dog owner in such a circumstance. Also, for your neighbor’s benefit, you want them to know that he is a nice dog. I have always liked Dobermans, even when I was a small child, but please realize that I am in the minority (maybe it’s a lawyer thing!) Plus, you must already know that Dobermans were specifically bred to be intimidating, so try to let the neighbors know that he is a nice dog.

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Daphne May 3, 2014 at 6:33 pm

“…the shock was worth it.” This made me LOL. I know SO MANY funny dogs like this. They’ll do anything for an adventure!

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Brit May 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm

You can control where trees land. This isn’t a real reason not to get a physical fence.

Where I live, nobody lets their dog into the front garden if it’s not fenced in. E-fences…just no way.

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Lexi May 4, 2014 at 5:29 am

I’ve read many articles stating that e-fences are not very reliable and are also dangerous for your dogs.
Really, your dogs should be leashed and walked until you can get a real fence.

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JackieJormpJomp May 5, 2014 at 11:12 am

Just get a leash. Obviously your system isn’t working.

And don’t fell trees without directing where they land. Ever. You are sounding very irresponsible.

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Christine May 2, 2014 at 6:24 am

Totally with admin 100% on this one. I love dogs and grew up with a few of my own. However, without knowing the temperament of the dog, it’s extremely easy to misconstrue playful yapping from a menacing bark. I had an experience similar to the woman walking last year. I was visiting a friend and when I stepped out of my car to go to her front door, her neighbors golden retriever bounded from next door, got incredibly close to me (probably 2″ from my leg) and proceeded to bark like crazy. I was scared to death of a “loveable” breed! The neighbor stuck her head out her door and called her dog back, which did absolutely nothing. She had to come outside and drag her dog back with no apology at all. I was livid. If you’re not prepared to train and take responsibility for your pet, then you shouldn’t own one.

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Tracy W May 2, 2014 at 6:33 am

My thinking on this is that for the sake of good neighbourhood relations I’d drop off a gift – home-baked muffins or a nice bottle of wine or something with a serious, self-castigating, apology for your dog escaping the fear your dog caused her and for not apologising to her before.

This might be more than she is strictly owed, but but your dog did escape the yard so your bad and there’s a lot of practical advantages to having good relations with your neighbours. It’s better to err on the side of apologising too much than too little here.

Also put up a physical fence.

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Shoegal May 2, 2014 at 8:52 am

Rule of thumb about your dog. Your dog should be under your control at all times. Sometimes things happen. ALWAYS, address the problem, apologize profusely and offer to take care of any expenses that might have been incurred. I never wanted anyone to take matters in their own hands and have the authorities determine that my dog needed to be put down because of some incident that might have been prevented. To me, it is about protecting your dog

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Elizabeth May 2, 2014 at 9:28 am

As a runner and a dog owner, I see both sides of this situation. The OP is responsible for the dog’s behavior; I take responsibility for my dog’s behavior. Explaining that the dog isn’t aggressive is an attempt to invalidate the jogger’s concerns – this isn’t fair. The dog barked and ran at her = aggressive. Apologize again when you see her and control this situation going forward. Going forward, a quick wave is necessary.

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Rachel May 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm

yeah, as both a runner and a dog owner, I was about to say the same thing! we have a husky/German Shepherd mix who is off leash lots of times, so I understand the dog owner side of things, and I’m definitely not “afraid of dogs”. that said, if I were out running and an unrestrained Doberman came running at me barking, I would simultaneously be peeing my pants a little bit and getting in position to kick it in the face, hard. if this happened while my boyfriend and our dog were out running, he would have a knife out. it’s not good for your neighbors OR your dog to let things like this happen.

yes, I know a lot of breeds get a bad rap but CAN be really sweet dogs, but they also have that reputation for a reason and when people don’t know YOUR particular dog, they have no way of knowing he’s “friendly”.

I don’t really get your obscure arguments about not being able to get a fence because you have trees… what?

also, I have to respectfully disagree with those recommending you tie up your dog outside. tied up dogs generally don’t turn out to be nice dogs. put up a real fence and, until you do, go outside with your dog on a leash. hell, take him for a walk around the block (make sure to pick up his poop!) and I love the idea someone else had about taking him around to meet the neighbors. I would be infinitely less likely to have the aforementioned violent reaction to a possibly aggressive dog if it wasn’t a stranger to me and I knew it was generally friendly.

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anonymous May 2, 2014 at 11:28 am

If there is an electronic fence, wouldn’t the dog be unable to run past it without a fairly strong shock? And so if the dog did, wouldn’t that mean the fence doesn’t work? If they have this kind of fence, how was the dog able to run out of the yard at all?

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Shhh its me May 2, 2014 at 12:12 pm

OP I don’t think it was weird she did both (talk to you and called the authorities) It sounds like her main goal was to be able to jog past without being accosted. *To a PP no I don’t think its rude to start with the authorities in any case. In some cases it may be “not nice” or “not neighborly” but I wouldn’t go up to a door of house with an unrestrained barking dog with no owner in sight*

I think part of the problem is perspective …your dog may be a sweetie but it probable doesn’t look like a sweetie while barking and following joggers. In all honesty the dog may have genuinely meant “hey you get out of here!” not “hey you come play.” and been frighting to even the most ardent dog lover. Dogs sitting and barking or even stranded and staying while barking may be a little unnerving but a unrestrained dog following me and barking is scary. *I’m saying unrestrained because for all she knew the dog was completely lose*

IF I had said to you “your dog chased me barking the other dog ,it scared me so my I screamed” this is what I would have heard in your replies.
“He is young…..” = “He doesn’t know better therefore its not our fault” this also implies “it may happen again , we don’t we’re capable of topping it but its ok cause he’s just a baby”
“He’s not aggressive” & “Are you afraid of dogs” = I dismiss your concern.
“other dogs are out” =why are you persecuting my dog?

I think what you wanted to convey was ….
“I’m very sorry. We try to be responsible dog owners . We will be more careful in the future. There is an invisible fence we will make sure he is trained better in its use. It was an one time oversight to let him out to potty without close enough supervision. I assure next time you see him he will be in our sight. He’s a family pet not a guard dog and I’m sorry he scared you.”

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Rachel May 6, 2014 at 3:33 pm

yes! that would have been a perfect response from the OP.

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Vall May 2, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Yes, a sincere apology would be nice. I agree with what many have stated but I won’t repeat their posts.

I understand not being able to out up a physical fence before you’ve finished clearing the trees. We had dogs when I was growing up and my parents didn’t want to put up a fence. They bought a very heavy duty plastic-coated wire and strung it from the back door to a post halfway through the yard. They put a pulley on it and attached a good chain. There was a hook by the back door that the chain hung on. To let the dog out, we’d open the back door, grab the chain and hook it to their collar.

The dogs had a long run that they could play in and do their business. There was a stopper on the wire so the dog couldn’t go so close to the post that they could wrap themselves around it. The area where our dogs were running wasn’t close to our property lines and neighbors could see that the dogs were safely restrained. This may not work for all breeds or all dogs but it worked for us.

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kingsrings May 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I agree with the admin. I would have felt the same way if an unknown dog started charging towards me, barking, especially a big one known for aggression. What everyone else has already said.

I frequently pet-sit for a large dog, a labrador. He is as harmless as they come, just a big baby! However, when I first started daily walking him in the neighborhood park, I had to learn that he does indeed scare others and their dogs because they have no idea that he’s totally harmless, all they see is a big dog that may harm them or their dog. He loves to walk up to other dogs to say hi, but because of that, now I always pull him back and shorten his leash whenever we approach others. If I slip up and don’t do it in time, or they’re too close, then I assure the owner that he’s completely harmless and just wants to say hi.

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LisaT May 2, 2014 at 5:18 pm

If you can’t change the fence due to a tree-line, then keep your dog indoors and leashed while it goes potty. Problem solved.
It might seem inconvenient, but it will save your neighbors from terrible fright, and you from worrying about your dog getting run over. If it seems too much trouble, then maybe you should reconsider owning this dog.

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NostalgicGal May 3, 2014 at 12:04 am

Portable run then, if there is tree issue? If you need to cut trees, move the run. Then the dog could have ‘free run area’ that is secure to go do doggie duty; and no more being able to scare passers by.

We had a keeshond, and the breed will learn to bark unless taught not to. Her early puppy training was NOT to bark; then when she matured, allowing her TO bark if there was reason (someone came to door, 2-3 barks to announce someone was there, etc). This was being responsible to others.

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Jo Bleakley May 3, 2014 at 3:12 am

This is something I feel pretty strongly about. I completely disagree with any breed specific legislation, or that any breed is ‘bad’. However, there is a perception out there that certain breeds are ‘bad.’ Any one who owns one of these breeds has a obligation to make sure those peceptions aren’t perpetuated. This means that your dog should never be out of your control or in a position to scare or intimidate people. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t have a ‘dangerous’ breed.

I’ve never really heard any good stories about invisible fences. Either the dog learns to blow through them, or the circuit becomes faulty. One guy I know had rats keep chewing through the wire.

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Rosie B. May 3, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Personally, I believe that part of the responsibility of owning an aggressive dog breed is recognizing that they can be dangerous. I hear stories on the news all the time about people being killed by their family dogs–it happened to a woman in my town not too long ago. Those dogs are solid muscle; they can hurt someone without meaning to just by jumping on them, and if they ever get angry and try to hurt somebody they’d be able to do it. That’s not to say they don’t belong in good homes like any other dogs, but extra measures should be taken to avoid incident. If he’s still learning where the fence is or the fence isn’t working properly then he shouldn’t be allowed outside unleashed and unsupervised, period. Even if you don’t think he’s dangerous, your neighbors don’t know that–having an angry-looking dog barking and running at you is scary! I would apologize to the neighbor and ask her if there’s anything you can do to make her feel more safe, and more importantly take whatever measures you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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Kat May 3, 2014 at 8:10 pm

It seems you haven’t considered another threat to your dog. A sufficiently scared jogger could have maced your dog.

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NostalgicGal May 6, 2014 at 8:20 am

We lived in a cul-de-sac and rented a house for years; the mail carrier was a few years from retirement and often took all day to do a 1-2 hour route. He was also massively dog paranoid. We could have a dog at the rental as long as we were responsible for any damage–the back fence was look at it crosseyed and it would come down and knew if we had one they’d make us buy a new fence (several thousand $), so no way on dog. Sometimes we wouldn’t get mail for a few days then get a whole clot in a rubber band and ‘dog in yard’ written on mail. One day I caught him sitting at the curb in his little jeep, with our mail in hand, and neighbor’s dachund cross (who wouldn’t hurt a flea, I knew this dog) toodling about near the dual mailbox. He had just written ‘dog in yard’ on my mail. I asked him; he said if you don’t keep your dog out of your front yard I’m not going to deliver to your box anymore. I told him I rent, I can’t have a dog, to get my mail I’ll be forced to fence in my front yard to keep dogs out of it? Whose dog is that? Neighbors. (mind you dog is not saying anything or coming near him, just sniffing about the grass) Neighbor comes up to his mailbox, dog follows him, is by him and sitting on sidewalk, and the fellow peppersprays the dog and informs the neighbor he will have to get a postbox at the station as he will no longer deliver to his mailbox!

I went to the post office officials on behalf of neighbor and found out they’d put this dude on our route because of his nearly at retirement, the complaints were rampant, and sorry; official policy was if the carrier didn’t want to deliver to the box (‘aggressive dog’ was an excuse) they would back the carrier up. If a dobie, even a puppy, had bounded up to his jeep barking I bet he would have called animal control and good luck at that point about the dog not being euthanized. (that carrier was one reason I was not sorry to move from that rental)

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Rachel May 6, 2014 at 3:35 pm

yeah, that was one of my first thoughts. I know what I would do, especially if I had my dog with me and was worried OP’s dog was going after him.

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Eddie May 5, 2014 at 8:39 am

I think that Admin’s response was perfect. I love dogs, I am a dog owner myself and I think that judging a dog based on its breed is unfortunate. That said, any dog with teeth can bite and possibly cause injury. I’ve seen chihuahuas break bones in fingers and toes before. The jogger’s response was a bit curt, but it could just be reflecting the fear she felt when a doberman came running at her barking. As a runner myself, I’ve had to kick away more than one dog trying to bite.

If the OP follows the dear Admin’s advice, I think she can make peace with her neighbor and be redeemed from Etiquette Hell.

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PWH May 5, 2014 at 9:17 am

Hi OP,

If your dog is only let out to relieve itself, it may be best to keep him on a leash. As he gets better trained with the invisible fence, you may be able to slowly remove the leash. A retractable one should give him more than enough lead to run around the yard and select a location :) My in-laws used to own a husky. They bought an invisible fence to yard train her (there are no fences in their community), but a small electric shock was no deterant and she would just run past the edge of the yard and keep going. There were several times she would manage to sneak out and my MIL would have to drive around the neighbourhood trying to track her down and bribe her into the car with cheese.

You may think that your dog isn’t scary and the jogger/neighbour had no right to be afraid, but she was. I think anyone would be with a dog charging after them barking, no matter the breed. If you do interact with your neighbour again, simply appologize (no excuses, no questions) and tell her what changes you’ve implemented to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Perhaps offer to introduce her to the dog so that she knows him and he knows her.

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Precarious Armada May 6, 2014 at 10:58 am

Glad to hear from OP. That was a lovely followup post, and you sound like a good dog owner with a temporary combination of dog being trained and electric fencing not working for this dog.
It sounds as though you do need some sort of temporary physical fencing for your young dog, something that can be moved while you deal with the trees.
Dobies (Dobermann) are dogs that unfortunately are often owned by dangerous, aggressive owners who want to have a dangerous aggressive dog and therefore turn their lovely Dobies into dangerous, aggressive dogs. Having met and petted, and been affectionately leaned on by lovely Dobies, I am cautiously friendly toward strange Dobermann.
Sadly, without any other information, even a young, friendly dog can look dangerous – any large dog can, and often dangerous owners are sloppy about fencing (they seem to have aggression and boundary issues themselves) . I’d get some temporary fencing – or even some visual indicators a bit before the electric fence, that the new dog can use as a guide.

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monkey's mommy May 6, 2014 at 11:58 am

You must be my neighbor!! Lol not really (unless you live in Florida), but we have a couple in our neighborhood that has a Doberman they cannot control and we cringe every time we jog by. He is an indoor dog too, but any time we encounter him he chases us. His owners cannot calm him or stop him, he doesn’t listen. But OP, I understand your point too, when our chocolate lab gets out, we get the same amount of static, even though he will just lick you to death.

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kcc1133 May 7, 2014 at 9:54 pm

People are being awfully hard on the OP. It sounds like her dog got out *once*. The OP doesn’t mention that her Doberman was constantly escaping the yard, over and over, accidentally “menacing” the sidewalk and nearby joggers all the time. Yes, an apology was warranted, and given. Don’t bake this neighbor woman muffins! WTF? I mean really…called the POLICE? She couldn’t have gone to the OPs home and spoken to her in person, told her her dog had scared her, and asked her to please keep the dog behind the fence?? If it happens several times, ok, I guess, call the police. However, I feel that the neighbor overreacted egregiously by immediately calling the authorities and then “practically jumping” in front of the OPs car to confront her. When did it become the standard for everything to be “OMG I WILL SUE AFTER I CALL THE POLICE YOUR [whatever] IS RUINING MY LIFE STOP NOW”?, without first discussing the situation? The neighbor was thankfully not injured, in any way. So calling the cops because she was scared by a dog (in a neighborhood she is probably entirely familiar with) seems like retaliation to me.

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K May 10, 2014 at 2:50 am

My partner has to go into other people’s yards as part of his job. He’s been bitten a bunch of times. I have had large dogs my whole life, so I know what I’m talking about. FYI in my area a dog rushing at someone in a threatening manner is apparently treated similarly to them biting someone. It’s still a dog attack. If your neighbor wants to hurt you she can have your dog put down for very minor things, the fact that it’s an “aggressive” breed makes that even more likely. Who’s right or wrong isn’t the issue here, the issue is that your dog will die if she is upset with you.

So from a practical purpose what you should do next time you see your neighbor is fall over yourself apologizing for you dog scaring her and let her know all the things you’re trying to do to be a good pet owner (paid training, invisible fence) and give her your number to call in case she has any more problems. It’s better to have her calling you to complain than calling the authorities.

I have dogs, I know they set each other off, my neighbor complains about our dogs barking when we can’t hear our dogs over her dog. I know dobermans can be lovely and I know young dogs are silly and training is a long process. I had an escape artist who kept getting into my (other) neighbors yard no matter what it did. But if you want to keep your dog safe you need to take the blame bullet for him.

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Enna May 10, 2014 at 6:08 am

I think the neighbour has over reacted, she should have tried talking to the OP, has the OP thought through everything to stop it happening again? The OP recognises there is a lapse but seems to keep an eye on the dog. Does OP’s finance see the dog escape? If the neighbour is confromtational then that is not a good sign. Be polite and like OP said try to resolve this in a way that benefits you both.

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Enna May 10, 2014 at 6:10 am

I don’t see the OP has blame shifiting – sometimes animals, like children do misbehave despite the best upbringing.

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Mariana May 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I really dislike when dog owners don’t get it that other people might be afraid of their dogs. I’m afraid of all dogs, no matter what size, and for me it would have been a very traumatic experience. It scares me when dogs come running to the fence to bark as I’m walking, and I know there is a fence between us… If the dog was unleashed and not behind a fence I’d be scared senseless. I know that being scared of dogs behind fences is my problem, the owners are doing nothing wrong and dogs do bark and that’s fine.

If this had happened to me I’d expect a full and contrite apology, no excuses, and I’d expect never to see that dog free again. I’d also start carrying pepper spray, just in case the dog did decide to attack me, who knows, dogs are not always predictable. And I’d call animal control each and every time I saw that dog out the yard. Where I live animal control will take your animal to the pound if they find it roaming the streets and you have to pay a fine to get it back.

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Kate May 11, 2014 at 4:27 am

I think some dog owners can have their blinkers on with regards to their dogs and find it hard to understand others’ perceptions. If I’m walking past a house with no fence and a Doberman (or any other dog) comes racing up to me and barking, I’m not thinking ‘oh, must have an electronic fence’ or ‘that dog must not be aggressive’. I’m thinking ‘oh (expletive)!’. I might not have called the police, but I certainly would have spoken to the local council or animal control.

That being said, if OP has been friendly and reasonable in her discussions with the neighbour, there’s no need for the neighbour to show constant animosity. If they do, OP could just be polite yet keep her distance.

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LawGeek May 11, 2014 at 8:23 pm

I foster bulldogs, and I don’t know how to handle people who are afraid of them. I live on a busy city street, so he is never off-leash. I keep the leash as tight as possible when walking past people, but the sidewalks are only so wide. Bulldogs are very friendly, so the one I am looking after now tilts his head up at people to make eye contact and say hello.

There aren’t a lot of people who dislike dogs here. It can be tough to find dog-friendly apartment buildings in NYC, so a row of them squeezed on one block like ours is tends to attract mostly other dog lovers. And most of them are nice, giving us a wide berth and apologizing (I always say I understand and hurry past with a smile).

But once in a while there is someone who seems to freak out just at our presence, especially when he looks at them (I can’t control where he looks, people!) or passes close when the sidewalk narrows. I know it isn’t their fault for being afraid of dogs, but I can’t help but think that they need to find a way to deal with it if they’re going to live here. All the same, I feel guilty.

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Joanna May 23, 2014 at 10:34 am

I doubt this was the case with this woman, as she was jogging, but sometimes a person might have a reason you can’t readily see, and overreact a bit because of it.

I, for instance, have mobility issues where I can very easily be knocked off balance. Once on the ground, I lack the upper thigh muscles to get back up unassisted. However, my rare condition isn’t always evident to others, because I CAN generally walk normally enough along flat surfaces.

I had a neighbor who was fond of letting her dogs run off-leash, on the pretext that they were “trained” to do so, i.e. coming right back when called, etc. Now, I LOVE dogs, and have two of my own, so that’s not the issue. However, if Neighbor’s dogs, in their exuberance, come barreling at me with doggie joy (and they were BIG dogs, like 80 lbs each) I know they won’t hurt me and will go back to their own home, but not before they may very well knock me down and risk hurting me. I ended up having to talk to her about this, and not surprisingly Neighbor did not take it well (silly medical condition!)

So, yeah. I doubt it was the case here, and the woman handled things poorly, but just as a reminder, sometimes a person might have a serious problem which you can’t readily see and would not likely even DREAM of (I sure never heard of it before being personally diagnosed!)

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Milinda May 29, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I have a dog that people mistake for a pit bull. He isn’t, but people are afraid of him, even though he’s the sweetest dog on the planet. Because “perception is reality,” he is always on a leash when outdoors, even in my own front yard. Better to be safe than sorry. I don’t want my dog euthanized because of my negligence (I know, worst case scenario). I don’t expect anyone else to understand how sweet he is as he runs toward them barking.

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