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The Neighbor And The Dog

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.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • JWH May 1, 2014, 8:35 am

    Perhaps I am in the minority here, but faced with somebody this unreasonable, I would almost completely eliminate interactions with this neighbor. If somebody “practically jumped” in front of my car and went out of her way to chastise me over the dogs’ behavior, I would consider her irrational and potentially litigious.

    • nk May 1, 2014, 6:24 pm

      I don’t know, given OP’s clear need to justify her behavior to herself, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s exaggerating her neighbor’s behavior. It’s possible that the neighbor simply waved her over and stepped into the street to talk to her. All of the neighbor’s points seem reasonable to me; Dobermans are big dogs with a reputation for being dangerous and aggressive, so I don’t blame her at all for wanting to make absolutely sure that something like this won’t happen again.

    • Brit May 2, 2014, 6:24 am

      I bet she thinks the OP is unreasonable. Your dog runs out at me barking because you didn’t keep an eye on it and you don’t apologise. Yeah, way to get on with your neighbors.

  • Hanna May 1, 2014, 8:46 am

    Agreed fully with Admin!

    It was not OK for your dog to do that and your neighbor had every right to address you personally about the situation. I am uncomfortable around dogs, especially dogs that are known aggressors, as I was mauled by a dog when I was 3. If I was walking with my baby in his stroller and a doberman pincher ran up to us, unleashed, and barking, I would be freaked the flip out and would certainly call the authorities. Dogs are no joke and it must be remembered that they can cause harm, even the friendly breeds can “turn.”

  • bloo May 1, 2014, 8:50 am

    Totally agree with Admin!

    I’m a neighborhood runner and within the city limits of my town, the dogs are wonderful and it would seem everyone has an invisible fence.

    But outside the limits I had a scary situation as I was accosted by a pit bull that was young and still learning. It was very frightening and aggressive. The owners were annoyed at me for attracting their dog! They were not apologetic for how scary their dog was and I was frozen waiting for them to come and get their dog. The next time I ran by the dog was barking like a maniac in their window. Because of the behavior of one house, I took to carrying pepper spray when I run.

    Your fiancé messed up, your neighbor is scared and you’re considering giving her The Cut? Acting like she’s not there? This wasn’t a vicious Yorkie that accosted her (which is still scary – to me). It’s a breed that has reputation (true or not) for aggressiveness.

    Please be super friendly to her and I’m sure she’ll warm up to you. Especially if you’re hypervigilant about making sure your dogs don’t run loose.

    Had the owners of the pit bull that ran me down behaved as the Admin suggested, I’d have warm fuzzies for them. Instead I think they’re jerks.

  • Jinx May 1, 2014, 8:51 am

    OP here.

    Thanks Admin. , you’ve made good points. I didn’t see it coming and let myself go more defensive than I should have (which should have been zero level).

    I’m always reading the stories on here, and I didn’t appreciate how hard it is to stay more balanced in a sudden situation. I feel like the world needs quick-thinking, high-tension etiquette lessons (haha, but really, that would be a great idea).

    I very much appreciate the input and will go out of my way to show her that I took her seriously and that if nothing else, I’m a kind well-mannered person, even if my dog’s manners aren’t 100%. It is exceptionally helpful to have level headed people hear these stories and respond back. Hopefully I can catch her again, be prepared, and save myself from e-purgatory, because you’re right, I don’t want her to feel badly over this or think I’m a dolt.

    • padua May 1, 2014, 11:11 am

      OP- it’s always refreshing when people are open to feedback. i think your approach to your neighbour will be very welcome. i, too, agree that she may have come up to you in an attempt to establish a positive relationship. she told you herself that she called the police- i think that takes courage to let someone know that. it’s easy to hide behind a phone call. i hope things go well in your neighbourhood and with your dog training.

    • The Elf May 1, 2014, 11:52 am

      I agree – it’s one thing to have the time to think about the best, most polite answer. It’s another to have to think on the spot, early in the morning, when you’re normally on the way to work!

    • Kimstu May 1, 2014, 7:46 pm

      Graciously conceded! I agree both that your neighbor was somewhat rude in the intensity of her reaction, and that it was nonetheless on you to fall over yourself apologizing to her for your accidental lapse in controlling your pet.

      Generous apologies not only soothe people’s indignation but make them feel reassured that the apologizer is taking their complaint seriously and isn’t being dismissive of their concerns. So your neighbor’s attitude may improve once you’ve apologized and she’s calmed down.

      Or maybe it won’t because she’ll turn out to be just a total witch in general. But either way, you owe her an apology this go-round. (And she owes you one too for her lack of restraint in aggressively complaining and scolding, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it.)

  • Lo May 1, 2014, 8:56 am

    What I get from the neighbors perspective is that the dog frightened her. Fair enough, a 7 month old doberman looks large to a lot of people and they have no way of knowing if it’s friendly or not. Lots of people can’t distinguish a “Hi, I’m a puppy!” bark from a “Get off my property!” bark because they don’t know the dog.

    But I do think she was rude to you. It’s not so much her discomfort around your doberman; as a dog lover I’ve had to learn to accept that plenty of people, even those with their own dogs, have their own prejudices about certain breeds. It’s not unreasonable for her to call animal control about a strange dog on the loose. My issue is that the situation was presumably resolved by the authorities and it’s really out of line for her to get in your face about it. Why start out on the defensive? Why not explain the situation to you in a calm and reasonable polite manner if she was still upset about it. That’s what good neighbors do. I never assume that dog owners are going to defend their dog unreasonably. Most are perfectly willing to apologize for a rowdy puppy. It sounds like she was looking for trouble.

    • AlyInSebby May 1, 2014, 2:04 pm

      Lo, you hit the nail on the head!

      I too have experienced a lot of ‘breed prejudice’ and I have a feeling that is a big part of the neighbors’ overreaction.

      OP, she didn’t give you a chance to be polite. You reacted the way most of us would when confronted (I use that word purposely) by this person.

      If she had been acting a bit more like a grown up she could have politely knocked on your door to explain her issue and ask/work with you on a better solution – in this case, meeting the dog when it is not over excited and given you all (pup, you & your partner) a chance to meet & greet and start over fresh.

      This was the first time it happened, not the 3rd.

      You did the best you could when she escalated things.

      I really want my neighbors to know and trust us/our dogs as best they can. When my female was overly aggressive with a neighbor and her dog. I went over later with some cookies, apologized for not being in proper control of my dog, explained what steps I was taking to ensure it didn’t happen again. And invited her over to spend a few minutes with my dog in a uncharged situation.

      It’s still a challenge. But my neighbor knows I am being as responsible as I can with a spirited ALPHA female. She can’t change that super alpha drive so it’s my job to put the proper boundaries in place for all of my neighbors and their beasties.

      Many people are going to over react to a doberman, it would be very wise to start walking the pup/s in the neighborhood a lot, ask to ‘meet’ all the neighbors, let them meet the dog in a safe comfortable situation so they can see it’s not aggressive, just looks that way.

      At our local dog park there are tons of people who just up and leave the minute any pit bull arrives. I know it’s not just a breed issue, it’s how well trained they and their owners are.

      One guy looks kinda sketchy if you don’t know him and his big pit girl can seem aggressive if you have never met her before.

      But she is the most well behaved best trained dog at the park. He has almost silent complete command over her (in a good way). I trust him 110% and so much more than 95% of the dog owners at our park.

      You picked this breed, know it inside and out. It is your job to pave the way for your dog and teach others about the dog and the breed.

      In this case, dobermans are bread to guard, not having a true physical boundary around your yard (i.e. an actual fence) seems like a set up. You may need to think about a temporary fence just beyond the electric fence until the dog/s have learned/been EXCEEDINGLY well trained that ‘That Invisible Line’ is as far as they go.

      I have Jack Russells, (Terriers are Territorial) I have decided it will only be a waste of money and training effort to try to get them to understand the electric fence. The shock is just not enough of a deterrent to supersede their instinct and natural territoriality.

      If you stay with the electric fence and the dog does this again or hurts someone, can you afford the lawsuit? Afford to move? Afford emotionally to possibly have the dog forcibly removed and put down?

      Most municipalities have a code/law if a dog is complained about being vicious (doesn’t have to be proven) 3 complaints to police or Animal Control and the dog can be taken away and destroyed.

      Yours already has one complaint on file.

      I think you did your best but now you also have to up your game for your dog and your neighborhoods’ well being.

    • Library Diva May 1, 2014, 2:17 pm

      I agree 100%. She had presumably gotten over the in-the-moment fear and panic of being barked at and approached by a strange dog. While OP perhaps could have responded better, it should be more of a lesson to the neighbor that jumping in front of someone’s car and acting like you’re spoiling for a fight doesn’t garner you the best response. I applaud Jinx for her willingness to try to wipe the slate clean with this woman. I hope she was just having a bad day and that Jinx’s efforts to be friendly are rewarded.

      • AnaMaria May 1, 2014, 7:31 pm

        I have to respectfully disagree with the admin- you already apologized to this woman and it sounds like you are working on your dog’s behavior. I might have more sympathy for her if she had just encountered your dog moments ago and was still shaken by fear, but the fact that she called the authorities and THEN went out of her way to yell at you shows that she is just looking for drama. Not to mention, why is she broadcasting that she “screamed at the top of her lungs” when the dog approached her?? Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought it was common knowledge that you DON’T scream when approached by a dog- they are attracted to high-pitched noises! That’s why whistles are used by dog trainers!

        This woman actually sounds a bit like my own mom- my mom hates most dogs, has unrealistic expectations of them (i.e. to smell clean, never bark, etc.) and also seems to transfer her dislike of dogs to their owners. Thank goodness she’s never done anything like what the OP described, but she is noticeably cooler towards people with dogs.

        OP, one apology should be enough- I hope your relationship with your neighbor will improve from here and I’m glad you’re responding kindly to her, but don’t bow at her feet to avoid trouble with her. If she wants a fight, she’ll always be looking for an excuse to start one.

        • Shhh its me May 2, 2014, 11:20 am

          I think the point was OP never said ” I promptly and sincerely apologized” . She introduced herself , explained the dog was young , asked if the woman was afraid of dogs , mentioned lots of dog leave their property and said goodbye.

  • AS May 1, 2014, 9:00 am

    I am a little confused here – you are blaming that the other neighborhood dogs bark all the time too. But, do they also run out of the yard at all times? If yes, then you have way more trouble in your neighborhood. I don’t like assigning blame for dogs based on the breed (I have walked dogs for quite a while, and I have seen several “aggressive” breeds being adorably friendly, and some “non-aggressive” breeds being really mean). If dogs regularly leave the yards, that is a liability for the owners if they attack or bite someone; unnecessary stress for the innocent drivers if they run over a dog; and chances are that the owners are not picking up regularly after their dogs, thereby leaving dog excreta on the sidewalks. I was brought up in a country with stray dogs, and I know how difficult it can be having animals walking around, especially when you are small child, and a friendly barking can be traumatizing.

    But if not, then as the admin said, you owed the jogger an apology, and not make excuses for the dog. It is true that your dog is learning. But as you said, there is no excuse to not keep an eye on them.

    • Jinx May 1, 2014, 3:20 pm

      I was a little trying to blame other dogs, I suppose. I have seen a lot of them leave their yards, and have had more than one come at me barking. One even ran into the street and circled me growling while the owner yelled at it.

      I was just in shock, I guess, and trying to make sense of someone getting so upset over something that happens to me every other month.

      I completely agree, I don’t want my dogs to leave my yard ever. I watch them like a hawk whenever they are out, but I don’t have a physical fence.

  • Daisy May 1, 2014, 9:38 am

    Something the OP needs to consider is that electronic fences are not necessarily the best solution for a home shared with dogs. They may be able to train their dog to respect the fence line, but since stray dogs won’t be wearing electronic collars, the dog is always going to be at the mercy of any other dog who wanders into the yard. And even with a shock collar, an excited or aggravated dog can disregard the pain and charge right over the fence line. Dobermans are big, sweet softies that frighten people who don’t understand them, and since a passerby can’t see the electronic fence, it will look like there’s a big Dobe loose on your property. They should expect more visits from Animal Control.

    • Kendra May 1, 2014, 10:35 am

      To me, the question would be is OP allowed to put up a physical fence? I am aware of several housing developments in my area that forbid physical fencing of any kind. In fact, a friend of mine was told to remove some privacy shrubs she had planted along her front yard because the homeowners association considered them a type of fence. More and more the only type of fencing a dog family is allowed is the electronic fence, so they need to work with what they are allowed to have.

    • Jinx May 1, 2014, 11:00 am

      It’s likely not the nest scenario to have an electric fence. Honestly, I’d rather have a physical fence, because I’d feel more secure knowing nothing can get in or out. A physical fence isn’t a viable option for me right now, unfortunately. I can’t afford one, and most of my yard is trees I’m in the process of clearing that need to be felled, and could fall onto a fence as I’m getting rid of them.

      Without a “real” fence, deer walk through our yard and goodness knows what else, bringing in nasty parasites, and I pretty much have to be on high alert when the dogs are playing outside. The electric fence is not my favourite solution at all.

    • Daphne May 1, 2014, 12:03 pm

      Totally agree with this. I have two dogs I love dearly and would never trust an invisible fence to protect them. In addition, even if you are in the yard with them and everything is working properly they could see a squirrel or cat or something and bolt so fast they don’t even really notice the pain of the shock. And then get hit by a car, scare another jogger, etc.
      If I were you I would seriously consider putting up a physical fence. And in the meantime, until he gets much older and loses his puppy-goofyness, I would keep him on a leash.

      • Puzzled May 1, 2014, 9:20 pm

        The dog can indeed be at the mercy of other dogs. This is completely unfair to the dog with the shock collar. He is now in the position of being forced to defend himself if another dog comes on the property or to ignore the shock and take off. There is nothing worse than a neighbor who refuses to curb their dog. I know this because our entire neighborhood refuses to obey the county leash laws, and we have had several bad incidents because of this. Get a real fence.

      • RooRoo May 1, 2014, 9:47 pm

        I’m a long-time obedience instructor, and I totally agree with Daisy and Daphne. There is another problem with invisible fences that this story brought to mind: they are invisible! If I’m walking by, and a dog comes charging around the side of the house, and there’s no owner in sight, and there’s no fence that I can see, I’m going to be scared!

        And Daphne’s point about an excited dog being able to run through the shock has another side to it (pun intended). Once the excitement is over, and Bowser comes home – he can’t get back in the yard.

        My biggest reason for hating them is that they can turn a nice dog into an aggressive one. Friendly puppy sees someone coming down the sidewalk. Puppy approaches them. Puppy gets shocked. Puppy blames the person. Pretty soon, puppy learns that strangers cause pain. (Of course, this is a puppy whose ignorant owners never bother to train them about the fence.)

        So, OP, I highly recommend getting a real fence. If you live in a development with “invisible fence only” rules, work to get them changed.

    • Melissa May 2, 2014, 7:52 am

      Agreed! I hate invisible “fences”….in my experience they often fail and I’d much rather put up a fence than electrocute my mutt every day and worry my neighbors…

    • Elizabeth May 2, 2014, 9:32 am

      The coyotes where I live (suburban Boston, believe it or not) have put dogs with invisible fences at very high risk. There have been maulings and killings.

  • WMK May 1, 2014, 9:40 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with the Admin.

    I don’t care if you own Pitbull or Basset Hound. All dogs can come off as aggressive given the right parameters. And this is coming from the owner of a Pug and Jack Russell Terrier who, apparently, scares our local pizza delivery guy so much that I have to take them into the other room when he comes to the door. All that they would do would be to lick him to death, but HE doesn’t know this.

    It is our responsibility as dog owners to control our dogs at all times. And if something happens, to take responsibility for it.

    • June First May 1, 2014, 12:28 pm

      Agreed, WMK. We have a shih-tzu mix and a terrier mix. The terrier is super-protective and barks like crazy whenever someone comes near our door (which includes the street in front of our house, or any pedestrian within eyesight). The UPS man was delivering the crib for our baby, a large and heavy package. I had opened up the door for him and the terrier ran outside. He told me if I couldn’t contain my dog he’d never deliver to us again. This dog just wants to lick people once she sees them, but he doesn’t know that.

      Also, the breed that is most likely to attack our shih-tzu? Yellow labs. They “play” too hard with him. He’s been attacked by several while we’ve been walking. Scary stuff.

      • EchoGirl May 2, 2014, 4:26 pm

        Same here. My roommate has a Border Collie mix — she doesn’t bite (she won’t even attack bunnies, if she catches one she just tries to herd it) but her bark is *loud*. If someone comes to the door, we either leash her or we shut her in the bathroom or someone’s bedroom. A few times, workers have asked if we will let them pet her (and it’s always a yes — she loves the attention) but the default is to assume they want her to give them space.

  • mark May 1, 2014, 9:53 am

    While a doberman isn’t a pit bull, you shouldn’t be surprised that people are afraid of the dog. The doberman was bred originally as a guard dog and still has that reputation. The doberman is for instance commonly banned from post housing in the US Army and US Air Force. If you own an aggressive dog breed you need to take greater precautions to ensure your dog isn’t threatening your neighbors. You may want to invest in a chain or a real fence.

  • Wendy B. May 1, 2014, 10:12 am

    Maybe you and fiance should invest in a physical fence instead of an invisible one? Some dogs need to see where the boundaries are, and frankly, if I were walking by, I wouldn’t have a clue there is any kind of fence there.

    I love all dogs, but if a dog I don’t know comes running at me, I do get scared.

    • Ashley May 1, 2014, 10:57 am

      I’d recommend putting up little flags to signal to both the dog and passer’s by where the fence is. Something like this: http://notesfromadogwalker.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/xdog-fence1.jpg?w=614&h=235 A physical fence though is, of course, better.

      • Cecilia May 2, 2014, 11:28 am

        We have a neighbor who had invisible fencing put in for her dogs and the company put up those flags so the neighbor could train her dogs and passers-by would know there is a fence.

        She had 3 huge boxer bulldogs. They are very well-behaved but of course, due to their size and reputation, other walkers/joggers give them a wide berth. I am deathly afraid of large dogs and the first few times I saw her with her dogs, I would turn and nearly run home. I can walk by her/the dogs now because she took note of my fright and stopped by, without the dogs, to have a chat. She understood my reactions, told me a little about their training and even though large dogs still frighten me, I really appreciated her taking the time to talk to me and reassure me about her dogs.

  • Devil's Advocate May 1, 2014, 10:14 am

    I have to be honest I’m afraid of certain dog breeds: pit bulls, dobermans, german shepherds etc. I know that dogs are “aggressive” or “nonaggressive” based on their owners way more then their breed. I know that I’m just as likely to be bit by a yorkie as I am a friendly pitbull. But still the fear remains.

    As your neighbor, the electric fence as the only means for keeping your dog away from me would concern me. I have a dog we use an electric fence and our neighbors do as well. However our neighbors are not close to us or each other. An electric fence only hurts the dog as it runs past it. However, once past it the shock/pain is gone. I admit I would be fearful everytime I jogged past your yard (having already been barked at) in fear that your puppy would disregard the momentary pain and attack me.

  • DaDancingPsych May 1, 2014, 10:14 am

    I am afraid of dogs… all dogs. So, while I would like to believe that I could have a conversation with someone about their dog and remain calm and polite, I imagine that my emotions would be similar to this woman’s.

    I agree with Admin 100%! I would have wanted you to apologize, let me know that you are aware of the issue, and promise to work on it. It doesn’t matter why it happened only that you are working to not let it happen again.

    I also agree that the next time you see her that a smile and apology would probably go a long ways. Assuming that you are caring for the issue, then no further incidents should have occurred and any sane person will calm down. I do not see any reason why a polite, neighborly relationship cannot continue.

    • wildkitty May 2, 2014, 8:23 am

      Your fear of dogs in on you. Behaving rudely due to fright is perhaps understable, but still a bad reaction.

  • Devil's Advocate May 1, 2014, 10:20 am

    Also in rereading the post, I noticed a couple of things:

    1. It says “dogs” : do you have more then one dog? Being barked at by one doberman (right or wrong) would scare me, but two would really put me on edge.
    2. You say that you are “still working” with your puppy to learn the fence line, but when they go potty you are watching them from the window. This isn’t good enough. If you dog doesn’t know the fence line, what is to keep the behavior that the jogger mentioned from repeating itself? You won’t be able to get to the dog in time to stop it.

  • Cecilia May 1, 2014, 10:25 am

    I don’t think gunning it and ignoring her will help the situation at all. She just felt the need to let you know that she was the one who called and that she was frightened by your dog.

    Be glad that all she did was call the cops. I had a Jack Russell/rat terrier mixed dog. (We also have 2 roosters and a hen) A retired couple moved into the house behind ours. There is a storm water ditch between our homes as well as some shrubbery/trees. There was a 6ft privacy fence, but they tore that down when they moved in. The man told the person who takes care of his lawn that he loves to hear chickens (roosters) crow in the morning but he doesn’t like dogs. A little over 2 months ago, our dog got very sick, very fast. Despite multiple and expensive vet trips, we had to have him put to sleep. It was very hard for our family (I am tearing up now, just thinking/writing about it). This all happened in a 3 week period. The vet confirmed through testing that he had been poisoned over a period of time. She told us what was used (I can’t remember now- it was hard time) but I looked it up and it was most commonly used in the plumbing profession. Guess who is a retired plumber? The police and a lawyer said since we could not prove, even with the vet tests, that the neighbor poisoned him, we did not have any options.

    I went over and told them about the dog, in a kind of by-the-way type conversation. The man was sure eager to change the subject. His wife is ok, but he is not a pleasant man. He did mention how much he loves to hear our roosters crow.

    I guess my point is at least she called the police and talked to you about it, instead of resorting to dog murder just because she doesn’t “like” them. And no, our dog never went to his yard or anything. We made sure the gate was closed when we let him out and used a body harness if we took him walking with us. He might have barked at him across the fence if he was in his yard but he never made any threatening motions toward that man.

  • LisaT May 1, 2014, 10:27 am

    Dobermanns are known to have a very strong chase-instinct. They are the type of dog that will go after people running by a lot quicker then most other breeds. I think you need a real fence, as you seem to be well-intentioned, but have no idea how intimidating encounters like this can be (and you calling it ‘just a puppy’ reinforces that).

    To give you some perspective from the other side of the non-existing fence; I was chased by a Dobermann when I was 9 years old. I ran past, playing, and he went after me. He nipped me, causing me to trip, and then stood over me, growling. A nearby man rescued me; the owner said I shouldn’t have been running so close to his dog, since I ‘should have known’ that this is a dogs natural behavior.

    I was nine, and this has instilled a life-long fear of dogs for me. I don’t like them at all, even the small ones, am always afraid they will bite me, and break out in a cold sweat/change sides of the streets when I see one coming, leashed or not. I would have died of fear if I saw your 7month ‘puppy’ coming at me, with no visible fence in sight. How is someone passing by supposed to know they are protected? I would urge all dog owners to reconsider statements like ‘oooooh, he’s really sweet, ooooh, he just wants to play, ooooh, it’s just a puppy’ when trying to comfort a person who has just been targeted by your dog (whether it just wanted to play, barked, or ‘only growled’). These words are completely meaningless. Of course you think it’s a nice dog, you’re the owner. Dogs tend to be nice to their owner. Doesn’t mean that as a stranger, they won’t bite you. Sentences like ‘he wouldn’t hurt a fly’ are no reassurance at all. You really have no idea how frightened the other person might be, and why, which is why I think you should give a person going off on you about something like this some slack. People reacting from a place of fear or trauma can be a bit too intense with their emotions sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid point.

    If she’s still rude to you after you’ve put up an actual fence/apologized again, then you’ve done all you could. I do think it’s very nice of you to even give this a bit more thought then the many irresponsible dog owners out there. It sounds like you are the right type of person to handle a breed like this.

  • just4kicks May 1, 2014, 10:42 am

    My parents live next door to a woman who they called the police and animal control on MANY times in the past twenty years. She seems to have a new dog every year, we don’t know what happens to the “old” ones, we just never see them again. They have a lovely pool in their backyard, and our four kids spend many a summer day at their grandparents home. I have witnessed her dogs in my folks back yard on several occasions and she does nothing to reign them in. She seems to get a kick out of the fact her dogs can send my kids and my parents flying back into their house. My dad has MS so getting in and out of the house takes some time, which is frightening when a menacing dog is approaching. Animal control knows my folks names and address by heart, and this neighbor has been cited quite a few times to keep her animals under control. She refuses to do so. So, yes, I am on the jogging ladies side, as I know first hand how scary it is when a strange dog comes barreling full force at you.

  • Lisa May 1, 2014, 10:47 am

    Love that the OP was able to learn from these posts. Good luck with your puppy!!!

  • nannerdoman May 1, 2014, 10:50 am

    Add me to those who recommend a real, physicl fence. If the dog can run out of the yard, then the electric fence isn’t doing its job. Besides being a detriment to good neighborhood relations, this could lead to a tragedy if the puppy gets all excited and runs out in front of a car.

  • lakey May 1, 2014, 10:55 am

    As a dog owner, I understand how you feel. The administration’s advice is excellent.
    Yes, you admitted responsibility, but you were faced with someone who is understandably upset. Mail carriers and joggers are continually having their physical safety threatened by dogs. Talk to a mail carrier about dogs.
    Explaining can be perceived as excuse-making whether that was your intention or not. Also, whether you like it or not, people are more fearful of large guard dog type breeds than they are of smaller dogs. The truth is all dogs could bite, and most dogs will bark at people who run past their territory. But if you do get bitten, a large dog will do more damage than a small dog, and people are more afraid of dobermans, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and pit bulls.

    Your taking responsibility is great, but you would probably have better luck with your neighbor with less explaining. Also, it sounds to me like a lot of your neighbors also have dogs that leave their yards. I can see why a jogger would be upset. This IS a problem. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve seen a dog out of its yard in my neighborhood or my dad’s. It sounds like a lot of people in your neighborhood need to tighten up their commitment to responsible dog ownership.

  • Margaret May 1, 2014, 10:56 am

    I guess you could have apologized more. It sounds to me more like you were trying to calm her fears or address her concerns, which is what I would probably do, but I see the difference between that and an apology.

    On the other hand, she attacked you. Yes, she has the right to tell you her concerns about your dog, but to charge in front of a moving vehicle and start ranting at someone is not a reasonable way to do that. She could have chosen to address you calmly, but instead chose to head straight to ballistic. That was a choice she made — she didn’t want to address the situation calmly, she also wanted to tell you off. I don’t think there is any reasonable response you could have made that would have headed that off.

  • Jewel May 1, 2014, 10:58 am

    My husband and I take a walk almost every evening when the weather is nice. Shortly after a new homeowner moved in about 2 blocks away, we walked by and were scared out of our minds when his two big dogs ran across the yard towards us snarling and barking. They stopped right at the edge of the sidewalk, still lunging and barking. He called them back but didn’t say a word of apology to us.

    A friend who lives on that street said that there is an electric fence right at the sidewalk (they should have put it a few feet inside the property line!), and that she had told her two young children not to ride their bikes in that direction anymore out of fear the dogs would someday decide to “leap” the fence and go after them despite the electric shock. As for us, we started turning a different way when walking to avoid passing that house, but I wondered how what the homeowner was allowing to happen was at all legal.

    Dog owners HAVE to be aware that it takes more than installing some kind of fence to keep their dog from threatening passers-by. They also NEED to train their dogs not to bark, snarl, and run at people, too.

    OP — Saying that your dog is “still learning where the fence is” was interpreted as “yes, my dog could blow past the fence line and attack you. Too bad, so sad for you”. Please be more courteous to your neighbors and get your dog trained!

    • Angela May 2, 2014, 6:20 pm

      In addition to the many good points about electric fences: our area got a great deal of snow a few years ago. A friend’s dog was behind an electric fence, which was normally fine but the snow made it hard for the dog to see the fence border markers and it may have reduced the shock that the dog would normally have gotten. The dog ran off the property and bit a jogger. No harm done, but my friend had to agree to multiple conditions or the dog would have been euthanized.

      • Tracy W May 6, 2014, 5:06 am

        The dog bit a jogger and you say “no harm done”? Out of curiosity, did it bite the jogger on the shoe or something so it didn’t pierce skin?

  • starstruck May 1, 2014, 11:05 am

    without trying to sound rude, I have to say , you sound just like my neighbor. we have a couple that just moved next door a couple of months ago and they have a large white german shepherd. he would leave their yard and come into mine and bark at my five year old who would of course scream and cry and the owner would then say , he barks a lot but he doesn’t bite! if a strange dog is barking at you , its scary. no mater how “sweet” they might really be and no one should have to endure that kind of fear when you can just put your dog on a leash. you say he is only seven months old and doesn’t know where the fence is? that’s no excuse. if he bites someone, they wont care. until he learns where the fence is put him on a leash! besides, if he does bite someone they may force you to put him down so your protecting your dog to. sorry to sound harsh this is just a sore spot with me.

  • SamiHami May 1, 2014, 11:05 am

    Dogs are supposed to be under the control of their owners 100% of the time. While the neighbor was a bit over the top in her reaction to being charged at by the dog, she was not wrong. I think an electronic fence is inadequate; a real fence or a run needs to be installed. I think the OP owes the neighbor a genuine apology, without the excuses and talking about other dogs in the neighborhood. I imagine a sincere, “I’m sorry that my dog wasn’t under proper control, I will take steps to ensure it does not happen again” would go a long way with her.

  • jenniferjo May 1, 2014, 11:05 am

    The neighbor sounds like someone looking for a fight for just about any reason. You’ve already assured her that you’re handling the issue, so I would probably avoid her in the future if at all possible. Her reaction was pretty extreme.

    I would also, however, look into putting up an actual fence rather than the electric one. Plenty of dogs will run right through an electric one and having an invisible fence doesn’t do much in the way of making other people feel secure from the dog.

  • Tracy May 1, 2014, 11:35 am

    Admin said: “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 actually think it IS important to explain the dog’s actions, as long as it indicates that you’ve identified the problem and are working on the solution. Yes, it needs to come with an apology. But if all you do is apologize, the neighbor has no way of knowing it won’t happen again, since many apologies simply translate to “Yes, I’m sorry it happened, but I’m completely powerless to do anything about it!”

  • Miss-E May 1, 2014, 11:40 am

    I think something happens to pet owners when their pets are being judged that is similar to what happens to parents when someone criticizes their children. That is, they lose the ability to be fair.

    My best friend had the sweetest, friendliest, most loving dog for ten years…but he was a pit bull and people were scared of him. It always upset my friend that people were being “breedists” and judging him just because he looked aggressive. I understood that it hurt her but I always tried to remind her that her “baby” was 110 lbs of pure muscle and while he may have only been running up to say hi, it could be interpreted very differently.

    Doesn’t excuse the woman screaming her head off at you, that’s an etiquette problem on her part!

    • Brit May 2, 2014, 10:07 am

      Nowhere does it say that the woman screamed at the OP. She wags her finger, she is curt, and the OP interprets this as the woman being ‘very worked up’. But the OP cannot understand why the woman is upset to start with anyway, so I’m not convinced she’s interpreted this correctly either.

      • Miss-E May 2, 2014, 2:43 pm

        “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.”

        My bad, I misinterpreted this line.

  • catherine May 1, 2014, 11:41 am

    Getting charged by an aggressive dog can be frightening, I have been there. It doesn’t sound like your dog was being aggressive, just being a puppy. But dobies are big, even at 7 months. Most of that is legs though, lol. I think, if you see neighbor again, apologize and ask if she would like to meet your Dobie, if she waffles, tell her you are trying to socialize him with as many people as possible so he doesn’t get scared of unknown people.
    For anyone who has been charged by a dog, don’t get scared, get angry. Tell the dog in your Meanest (ARRRGG) voice to “GO LAY DOWN YOU BAD DOG!! >:[ Stare right into their eyes with mean face, It will confuse the crap out of him and he will obey. What this does is make you Alpha (top dog) and it will give you time to get out of there. Use this only if you have to, but it works on most dogs.

  • Ruby May 1, 2014, 11:56 am

    I agree with othwrs who think an electric fence is not the best solution. In addition to passersby not knowing the fence is even there, I have heard of dogs smart and patient enough to let the battery on their collar die, and take off.

  • Dee May 1, 2014, 12:14 pm

    Etiquette issue aside, OP needs to deal with the fence issue. The dogs can escape from that fence and that is unacceptable. Proper fencing should be virtually 100% inescapable. Whatever kind that is, OP needs to install it. That is the responsibility of a dog owner; it is NOT the responsibility of the neighbours to put up with the occasional stray dog. In this case good fences really do make good neighbours.

  • Barbarian May 1, 2014, 12:22 pm

    I would just tell the neighbor:

    a. I am sorry my dog frightened you;
    b. I will do the best I can to keep it from happening again,
    c and that if my dog gets out again, to let me know right away so I can get it. That would be a lot quicker than calling the authorities.

    There are so many terrifying stories of dog attacks. The neighbor probably has nothing personal against you or your dog.

  • Hillary May 1, 2014, 12:34 pm

    I too am afraid of dogs, and I have been since a childhood incident. I’m well aware that most dogs are being friendly when they run to me barking, but because of a couple of knee surgeries, it’s easy to knock me over if they jump on me.

    That being said, I think the neighbor overreacted by calling animal control. I firmly believe that the first step to resolving any neighborhood problem is to TALK TO THE NEIGHBOR. Most people are reasonable and willing to listen if you approach them courteously. I think the neighbor should have reversed the order of her actions: first, let the OP know there was a problem with her dog running and barking at passersby; second, if it happens again call animal control.

    Because the OP and the neighbor have to see each other and live in the same zip code, I think the OP should be friendly next time she sees the neighbor and let her know that the problem is being solved. Also, let her know that she can approach you directly if she has any further issues, and you’re open to talking about it. You may even find that the neighbor apologizes for her overreaction. Hopefully then things will go back to normal!

  • Sara May 1, 2014, 12:41 pm

    I run outside a lot and have encountered many dogs leaving their properties over the years to chase after me on my runs. I am also not a dog person; although once I get to know a dog and warm up to him/her, we’re fine, but I treat all dogs I don’t know with caution. I don’t think I can adequately describe to you the fear I feel when a dog (especially a large one) starts barking and running at me full speed across a yard. It is petrifying, and you don’t know whether there is an electric fence until they stop at the perimeter or run out into the road after you. Luckily, I’ve never been bitten, but a runner friend of mine has, so the fear is real and justified.

    There are some routes I completely avoid due to having had even one experience of an aggressive dog run in the road after me (or other routes I choose because I either know the dogs are friendly or fenced up). There have been other times I’ve actually turned around and done a detour that adds miles onto my route (I live in the country- “around the block” is 5 miles) just to avoid a dog in the road with no owner. All that to say, this may seem like a minor incident to you, but was likely a very scary experience to the runner.

    Did the woman approach you inappropriately? Absolutely, but she was coming from a place of fear and emotion. From experience, I can tell you that I have good feelings towards the owners who recognize that they goofed by not keeping their dog out of the road and apologize, and negative feelings towards the owners I see who call their dogs off me without a word of apology.

    I would make some effort to be friendly to her (say hi and wave), but if she doesn’t reciprocate after a few times, let it go and not worry about acknowledging her when you see her in passing. It can’t hurt, and it’s better to have a good neighborly feeling about someone you’re likely to see regularly than feel tension.

  • Jaxsue May 1, 2014, 12:46 pm

    I love dogs and am seldom afraid of them. However, back when I was a runner loose dogs were a big problem. Some dogs see someone running as a threat, for some reason. I had several instances where someone’s large dog (German Shepherd, Pitbull, etc.) came at me in a threatening manner. The owners, unfortunately, laughed it off. They see their dog as a cuddly thing, but for others that is not the case. Until the dog is controllable, he/she should not be alone outside. All it takes is one bite for the law to become involved.

  • Alli May 1, 2014, 1:33 pm

    As an avid dog owner, the fault lies with OP (or finance). The owner is responsible for a dog 100% of the time. If the pup is still getting used to the fence (the fact that he’s going through tells me that he needs a different confinement system) then it is up to the owner to be sure the dog is under control. Period.

    Not everyone like dogs and all dog owners need to be sensitive to how others (both people and dogs) will react to their animal. Especially a large, black dog which can be very intimidating. I have a large, black dog and when he barks, he looks intimidating- even though he is friendly.

    Apologize to neighbor. Offer to have her meet the dog so that if it happens again she won’t be so afraid. But yes, she has every right to be upset.

    • Reboot May 1, 2014, 9:36 pm

      This. If the dog is still getting used to the fence, then he needs to have someone out there with him regardless of how short the outside visit is. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds for a dog to take off.

  • Ergala May 1, 2014, 1:35 pm

    I didn’t know dobies are banned from military housing. I grew up in the Army and lived on base and we had a dobie, never ever had an issue.

    I can see both sides with this issue, however I do think the neighbor was in the wrong for how she approached the OP. I have a neighbor I do not exactly enjoy, her dogs are constantly barking at me when I am in my backyard. I even walk outside and they go insane. I don’t go running in front of her car when she pulls out and start chastising her. Dogs are dogs. I’m not exactly a dog person either, I don’t go out of my way to pet them or love on them. I prefer to kind of skirt around them to be honest. Heck these two even bark at my cats when they are sitting in the window and my two cats are strictly indoor kitties. However she has approached me about the barking because she feels as though it’s my responsibility to alter our schedules to get them used to us. Not going to happen sorry. My kids are going to play in the backyard, we are going to enjoy our property. Bring in your dogs if they are going to bark the entire time we are outside thank you very much.

    Now as for the OP, I’ve had a dobie. They are such big babies and I do love the breed. I have a soft spot for them. I see a dobie and I don’t see vicious, I see love bug. For others though I can understand. It might be a good idea to put up a small fenced in area for them to run around in if possible. My awesome neighbor does that for her little girl pup. Much safer and she doesn’t bother anyone.

  • Noctural Sunshine May 1, 2014, 1:36 pm

    I think you and your fiancé are darn lucky that the jogger didn’t ask for your dog to be removed and euthanized. Doesn’t matter the breed of the dog, the age, or the general temperament, the jogger didn’t know that your dog isn’t normally aggressive and wasn’t going to do anything more then bark at her.

    I will echo the idea that a physical fence is better then an electronic one.

    • Snarkastic May 1, 2014, 7:11 pm

      You can’t have a puppy euthanized for barking.

    • wildkitty May 2, 2014, 8:20 am

      Wow, extreme overreaction! And also foolishly unfounded. A dog cannot and will not be taken and murdered because someone whined that a dog barked at them while passing by.

      • Cat May 2, 2014, 5:02 pm

        Does anyone remember the “Roseanne” episode in which Darlene’s teacher complained that Darlene was barking in class? Roseanne asked if Darlene stopped barking when the teacher told her to and the teacher said yes. Roseanne said, “Well, we all bark.”

    • EchoGirl May 3, 2014, 2:19 am

      Have to agree with the other posts here. The only situation in which a dog would be confiscated and euthanized is if they actually attacked someone and caused physical harm. At worst, they MIGHT get a ticket or something for letting the dog run loose.

    • just4kicks May 3, 2014, 9:18 am

      I don’t know about being euthanized, but animal control warned my parents neighbor with one particularly aggressive German shepherd that if they get called ONE more time, they will remove the dog from the premises.

  • Kate May 1, 2014, 1:41 pm

    I just wanted to point something out as far as dog breeds go. Certain breeds (pit bulls, dobermans, etc) have a reputation for being aggressive and dangerous, but as far I know, that simply isn’t true.

    There was an analysis done of dog attacks by breed, and they found that the most dangerous dogs were actually Golden Retrievers! I wish I could find that study again and link it here.

    In my experience, the most aggressive dogs tend to be small dogs. Most small dog owners I have met don’t bother to train or discipline their dogs. The attitude seems to be that they are so small, it doesn’t matter if they are aggressive, they can’t do much harm.

    As well, I think people assume that a lot of dog breeds don’t need ANY training. After all, golden retrievers, “Lassie dogs” in a lot of people’s minds, are supposed to be naturally loyal and friendly right? Wrong!

    My family had a dalmation, who sadly passed away some years ago. She was wonderful but VERY energetic, and she was relatively calm for her breed. We met one family who had a dalmation and gave the dog up because they couldn’t keep up/handle it.

    I think people forget, dogs used to be used for work. Running with carriages (dalmations), herding animals, guarding herds all night against predators like WOLVES (takes some energy you think?), pulling sleds, running after shot birds (often through water), etc. Even small dogs worked, tunneling to kill rats and other vermin, guarding, etc.

    These dogs need exercise and an outlet for their natural aggression. Animals aren’t statues, accessories, or toys. They have needs just like we do. I know if I had to sleep all night and then spend 8 hours doing nothing, really except playing with chew toys, waiting for someone to come home, I’d go crazy too.

    I would also like to point out that the kinds of people who own pit bulls and dobermans vs. golden retrievers and pomeranians tend to be, in my experience and generally I think, people who WANT a “tough looking” dog. A “masculine” dog. They also want a guard dog, not a dog to cuddle and play with their kids. So they get the dog and train it to be aggressive, poor thing.

    Also, I have heard a lot about breeding issues. Breeders who don’t pay enough attention and end up with a beautiful animal with breathing issues or crippling leg issues because of breed traits. I have heard the same thing about aggression. One breeder bemoaned on her blog breeders who don’t care how an animal acts as long as it looks good, these breeders, she said think nothing of breeding a highly aggresive dog and thus passing on those traits.

    Considering bad people often breed dogs for fighting, and tend to prefer certain breeds (breeds that also look masculine and tough) it makes sense that they would breed in aggression and train for it too. And we don’t tend to know who is using their “pets” for dog fighting until they get caught. So the breed gets a reputation for aggression.

    I think it tends to be a chicken and egg type of thing. I think that dobermans and pit bulls and so on started off as no more naturally aggressive than dogs like the Chow Chow (bred to be aggressive guard dogs, but look like teddy bears), and through bad breeding and bad training have gained a reputation for aggression.

    We need to make training and proper breeding a priority for all breeds of dogs, I think.

    • Daphne May 1, 2014, 3:29 pm

      The larger the population of a particular breed, the more often there will be incidence of dog bites. In other words, all dogs bite–so the more there are of a particular type of dog, the more bites will be attributed to that breed. So that is probably the case with Goldens— as everyone and their brother seems to own one. I would be gobsmacked if you can find even one credible study that claims Golden Retriever as “the most dangerous dog” as in a breed to breed comparison–not # of bites per capita. LOL. I mean really, that’s just ludicrous!

    • mark May 1, 2014, 3:59 pm

      I’m not sure what study you read, but the most dangerous dog is overwhelmingly the pit bull followed by the rottweiller. The dog in question here a doberman is actually a rather calm dog, american breeders have been deliberately breeding them for calmer temperaments.

      Pit bulls are very dangerous dogs, they have attacked thousands of people and killed hundreds. This is pretty good link about the data.


    • Marie May 1, 2014, 7:12 pm

      Even if small dogs are more aggressive than big dogs, people will still be more afraid of big dogs because they can do more damage. An incredibly aggressive Pomeranian nipping at your ankles is annoying, to be sure, but a friendly pit bull who gets too excited and bites you while playing can send you to the ER for stitches. And the existence of friendly pit bulls, Dobermans, and Rottweilers doesn’t change the fact that there are also dangerous, attack-happy dogs of those breeds, and when a strange dog comes charging up to you, barking and without a leash, you have no way of knowing which one it is.

    • Melnick May 2, 2014, 7:46 am

      The biggest issue with a breed like a Pitbull is that it has lockjaw which means there is virtually nothing that can be done to force the dog to release its grip. A Pitbull may be 1000 times less likely to attack, however, when it does, it is 1000 more deadly. And you can have the best owners in the world who treat that dog with the utmost respect and have fully trained the pup and all it takes is for someone to catch the dog offguard or come at it from a funny angle for the dog to bite impulsively. It is true that more problems are caused by bad owners but you can get the same unfortunate result from the most wonderful owners.

      I use to work in a pet shop and believe owners were largely responsible for whether or not their dog attacked someone until I saw one of my customers on the news one night who had been attacked (momentarily) by her Rotti. It ripped out her nasal cavity when she came in to hug him from a funny angle. Instantly the dog knew it had done the wrong thing and cowered and showed it was distressed but the damage was extensive of that one moment. That is why there is a real and genuine fear of big breeds. It only takes a moment to leave you with damage that is life-changing. With little dogs, they generally can’t do the same type of damage.

      To be honest, people are right to be scared of dogs. It’s much better that everyone treats all dogs with apprehension as that is safest. It’s lovely to introduce your dog to everyone, but you shouldn’t consider it is enough to make YOUR dog comfortable with those people if you aren’t around. Some dogs become especially protective of their owners and their homes.

      We grew up with German Shepards and I remember coming home from camp and wearing a hat. My dog came flying at me barking. I wasn’t scared until she didn’t stop. Suddenly I was seized with fear and then my mum yelled at me to rip my hat off and my dog stopped dead a meter away from me once she recognised me. It was terrifying to have a massive dog come flying at me at full speed, barking – and in that case it was my dog!!!!!
      As a side note, you need to be careful about inbreeding with dogs. The more times it occurs, the more it brings out an aggressive trait with each generation. Where I live, Cocker Spaniels have become quite aggressive because of inbreeding and they look like the most placid dog!

      To the OP, I was surprised to see you use an electric fence in a neighbourhood with a lot of dogs – I would think a physical fence would be a better option. Having said that though, I have heard that Dobermans are one of the most responsive dogs to learning the boundaries of a physical fence and once properly trained, will not step over it.

      • Melnick May 2, 2014, 7:52 am

        *of an invisible fence

      • Molly May 2, 2014, 12:15 pm
        • Silvia May 2, 2014, 5:33 pm

          While you have made quite a number of good points in your response when your first sentence is an outright ridiculous statement, you lose credibility. Seriously, “lockjaw”? That’s what some people used to call tetanus.

          There is absolutely nothing special about a pitbull’s bite.

          • Daphne May 3, 2014, 6:10 pm

            I understood exactly what Melnick meant by “lockjaw.” Have you ever seen on America’s Funniest Home Videos or YouTube those video clips of pit bulls twirling around suspended off the ground from a tree or something, hanging by biting down on a rope in their mouths? Well, I don’t know if there is a technical term for it, but the dog does “lock” his jaws on the rope and that’s why he can build up the speed to be able to twirl around like a top or something.
            And that locking of the jaw is what they do when they bite people too. I’m not sure they have much control over it–it’s sort of like an instinct for them from what I understand.

          • Silvia May 5, 2014, 1:34 am

            Try reading the link that Molly included from the ASPCA. A pitbull’s bite is no different than any other dog of a similar size. A pitbull is 1000 times more deadly than another dog? There are also plenty of video clips of human circus performers twirling around on ropes that they have clenched in the mouths. There is no technical term for either.

            On the topic of this discussion, for the safety of her dogs, she should be a responsible dog owner & walk them on leashes. It would provide good exercise and bonding time for both dogs & owner. I would never trust an invisible fence for many of the reasons listed by other commenters. Another dog or aggressive animal can easily come into the yard to attack her dogs. Given enough stimulus, her dogs will go through the momentary pain to leave the yard and among other possibilities, get hit by a car. You cannot supervise a dog from inside the house and even if you are outside with the dog, yelling is not necessarily going to stop him. Your neighbors certainly will feel that you are in control and that they are safer if they see the dogs on leashes rather than outside with nothing between them and you.

            Nothing is foolproof. My husband was walking our dog on a leash when a German Shepherd who was out loose, grabbed our dog. My husband grabbed the shepherd long enough for our dog to get away. It was quite scary. My husband was fine and our dog ended up OK but had quite a number of stitches.

    • Thistlebird May 2, 2014, 12:16 pm

      I’m actually not at all surprised that Golden Retrievers attack people most. The aggressive dog I told a story about below was a Golden Retriever.

      I wonder if it’s that they’re a high-strung breed. This one certainly seemed that way. He usually appeared to be attacking because he was scared–which is, of course, very dangerous. A scared animal will use his full force, unlike a playful one or one that’s trying to drive you off its territory.

  • Misty May 1, 2014, 2:17 pm

    I actually went and Googled “7 month old Doberman” and the images that came up are NOT what I would call a puppy. The way the OP writes it the image is this little, roly-poly, playful puppy bounding down and yipping in a little puppy voice at the jogger.

    The pictures on Google (particularly the ones with cropped ears) are close to full grown DOGS and not an animal you’d necessarily be able to look at and say, “oh, that’s just a puppy version of breed of dog commonly used by police and for security!! I bet he’s just running up to me, unleashed and barking, to say hi!”

    This woman is jogging when she sees a Doberman Pinscher in what appears to be an unfenced yard. This is a dog that is a stranger to her, that she has ZERO knowledge of it’s temperament or personality and, as she jogs by, it runs out onto the sidewalk and begins barking at her. The OP was not there so she has no idea of what actually happened or if the dog was barking playfully or aggressively/trying to defend its territory.

    I, for one, would be extremely angry and would be even angrier if I got this reaction from the OP.

    I went to the store once and parked next to a guy who had two MASSIVE English Mastiffs in his car. I didn’t realize he’d left the tailgate down (being blind in my left eye and they were on my left) and as I walked by both of them LUNGED at me, barking and snarling. Thankfully they were leashed in the back of the SUV but they came so close I felt their breath on my ear and got hit with spittle from them. I was so scared I started crying. A moment later the owner (who had NOT seen what happened) came out and, when I told him what happened, he proceeded to start laughing and said, “they were just trying to say hello to you!” I told him he was a jackass and he got all offended like he just COULDN’T understand why I would get upset at his two, 150 pound dogs lunging at me.

    The neighbor has the right to run in peace without having to face down a nearly full grown Doberman and without having the owner act just SHOCKED that she would be upset at said DOBERMAN running at her. The OP definitely needs to apologize and be a more responsible pet owner in the future. She owns a Doberman, not a poodle. You don’t get to drop the ball and fail to supervise it. Dobermans are very territorial dogs, what if a child wandered onto the lawn and the dog attacked it trying to protect his territory? It’s an electronic/invisible fence, it’s supposed to keep the dog in, not keep small children and other neighborhood pets out. I imagine the OP wouldn’t be standing around telling everyone how they overreacted to her innocent little puppy if it attacked a child or slaughtered a neighborhood cat or other dog guarding its territory while it sat, unsupervised, in the front yard.

    If you want to own a dog that is associated with aggression and is used by security firms and police to scare and intimidate people that’s fine but don’t get surprised when, after you leave it alone in an unfenced yard where it can run off onto the sidwalk, other people, shockingly, get scared and intimidated by it running at them and barking.

    • Thistlebird May 1, 2014, 2:58 pm

      Wow. Your mastiff story is such an *excellent* example of what I mentioned below: a lot of people think of their dogs as friendly and harmless because their dogs are friendly and harmless *to them, the owners.* Dogs are pack animals and would never attack the leader of the pack. But they have a completely different attitude toward strangers and the territorial/aggressive breeds will view a stranger who gets too close as an enemy unless they’re trained not to. So the dog owner says “Oh he’s just a big sweetie” and the stranger’s looking at cold eyes and bared teeth and thinking “Really?”

      • La May 2, 2014, 3:21 pm

        I’m really good at reading dogs, and I’ve had the “oh they’re just a big sweetie” thing.

        Like, yes, I can tell that. You can tell that. I can tell that you just have an over-enthusiastic dog who for some reason you didn’t train not to jump up, which I’m sure was cute when they were a puppy, but I am currently pinned to the floor by a very large dog with foul breath. This is not pleasant. And to someone who is not familiar with dogs, being leaped at and knocked over by some kind of cross between a wolf and a small military vehicle would be absolutely terrifying. Even if the dog is wagging their tail and those are “HI HI I AM DOG YOU ARE NEW PERSON I AM YOUR FRIEND HI HUMAN HI HUMAN” barks.

        (The worst “but they’re friendly” was the chihuahua swarm, though. There is no way five biting, overly-amorous, and disturbingly co-ordinated chihuahuas could be considered “friendly.”)

    • Snarkastic May 1, 2014, 7:19 pm

      To be fair, if a child wandered into a yard with an aggressive dog, that would be a terrible accident. However, we can hope for two things: 1) that dogs in invisibly fenced yards are not aggressive and 2) people will supervise their small children, as it is their responsibility to do so.

      I agree that it is fair that they should have “heard” this woman’s concerns, but I do believe you are being extremely hyperbolic in your hypothetical examples.

      • Misty May 5, 2014, 10:52 am

        Apparently my other response didn’t go through?

        Anyway, I am not being hyperbolic at all. If you have an aggressive dog (going by your answer) and you leave it unsupervised in a yard that has no fence to keep other people out YOU are responsible for that dog attacking someone, especially a child. It’s called criminal negligence – I knew my dog was aggressive but I purposefully left them unsupervised in a location where others could approach them. You would DEFINITELY be held civilly liable in a civil court of law.

        Look at it another way – your neighbor likes to leave a loaded handgun lying in his front yard. A 12-year-old child (who is old enough to play outside unsupervised but is still legally considered a child) walks onto the property, picks up the gun, plays with it and ends up shooting himself in the head. Does the homeowner get to sit back and say, “wow, what a tragic accident!” Of course not, they left a loaded handgun laying on their front yard!

        So, now we have an aggressive (by your words) DOBERMAN (a dog that is on pretty much EVERY list of dangerous dog breeds) lying in an unfenced yard, unsupervised. A little girl comes along selling girl scout cookies, or walks up to see if the homeowner’s child can come out and play, or walks across the yard to get home from school (as they do in my neighborhood every single day of the school year) and the aggressive Doberman attacks them. How is that NOT the homeowner’s fault? It’s not the parent’s fault – their child was walking home from school or asking if a friend could come out and play. It’s not the child’s fault, they’re a child. Some states, like California have specific statues STATING a child cannot be held liable for wandering onto private property and being attacked by a dog.

        Go Google dog bites and liability, particularly with known aggressive dogs. Also, Google electronic fences (which are known to CAUSE aggression in dogs as it trains them that strangers equate to painful shocks when they try to approach them which causes them to fear/become aggressive toward strangers).

        It’s not hyperbolic and it’s certainly not extremely hyperbolic. It’s negligence, criminal negligence if you knew your dog was aggressive and you left it unsupervised in an unfenced front yard.

  • Cathy May 1, 2014, 2:19 pm

    I don’t like loose dogs anywhere – not only because of possible aggression, but because I don’t like finding “gifts” on my lawn. However, the neighbor needs to dial it down. There was no need for her to go ballistic. When I have had problems in the past with unleashed dogs in my former neighborhood, I’d politely ask the owners to leash them or keep them on their own property. If that failed, and the problem escalated (Rottweiler that kept getting out and menacing people) I called Animal Control and let them deal with it. There’s always a solution but it takes work on both sides.

  • Ergala May 1, 2014, 2:44 pm

    @Misty, by the way, the only dog I have ever been bit by was a toy poodle. Believe it or not the smaller the pooch the more snappy it is apt to be. I was a little girl when the poodle chased me on my friend’s yard and bit my calf for absolutely no reason. It was a temperamental little booger. To this day I absolutely loathe those dogs.

    • Misty May 5, 2014, 11:09 am

      I’m not a fan of poodles either as a matter of fact but I was talking more about the danger/fear issue. If a toy poodle runs at you then you have SOME possibility of protecting yourself, you can boot the little suckers in the face. Likewise, a poodle bite will hurt like hell and will understandably give you a fear of them but it’s not going to kill you (unless it had rabies and you failed to get treated).

      A Doberman will kill you and unless you have a gun on you or mace or some sort of weapon (or the ability to outrun it into a house, which is unlikely) there’s little to nothing you can do about it. Also, a Doberman is on just about every list of Dangerous Dog Breeds out there, a poodle isn’t. So, to me at least, the owner of a Doberman is at a MUCH greater level of responsibility when it comes to ensuring others are safe. If you own a dog that can, and will, kill you if it feels threatened then you have a responsibility to make sure that dog is supervised at every moment.

      Likewise, it’s understandable, to me at least, why someone would react with extreme fear to the sight of a Doberman running at them across what appears to be an unfenced yard. Again, as an owner of such a dog, I believe you have the responsibility to not terrorize people.

      So, that’s where I was coming from on that. Poodles are little bastards, they’re just not a breed commonly used as attack dogs, or a breed that, at the sight of one charging, is likely to make us think “I’m about to die horrifically.” Dobermans are and DO cause that and, as such, require a higher level of responsibility. To me it’s similar to owning a gun – there are plenty of highly responsible gun owners out there. One of my best friends has an arsenal – he keeps them stored in gun lockers, unloaded, and is highly, highly responsible with them. He does not go around threatening or scaring people with his guns. He understands that guns can be used irresponsibly, can kill people and can also scare/intimidate people and he does his best to show people what a responsible gun owner looks like.

      Likewise, there are plenty of responsible Doberman owners out there. They treat their dogs as ambassadors, training them and using them to show others that Dobermans can be loving, kind, fantastic pets. They understand that a Doberman can kill someone and can be used to intimidate/scare people and they do their best to be responsible and respectful of that. They do not leave their nearly full grown Dobermans in unfenced yards, unsupervised (admitting they KNOW the dog hasn’t yet learned the boundaries of the electronic fence) and then claim confusion when the full grown dog charges someone and she gets understandably terrified.

      I do agree with you though that poodles are little jerks. 🙂

    • Kate May 11, 2014, 4:37 am

      @Ergala, I’ve also been bitten by a poodle while delivering newspapers when I was 14. The owners left their gate open, the poodle ran out and bit my calf and wouldn’t let go. I eventually shook it off and rode home. It chased me half the way there. My parents located the owner and informed them, and they laughed it off!

  • Thistlebird May 1, 2014, 2:51 pm

    I appreciate your response, OP. I think Admin gave wonderful advice both on the etiquette issue and on how to approach the general issue of neighbors being scared by your dog (or anyone’s dog for that matter.) The whole issue made me recall some difficult drama that happened in our community regarding an aggressive dog and its unreasonable owner, and in your response you have managed to differentiate yourself 100% from the owner in question–to my relief!

    Here’s the thing this situation has me thinking about: this dog owner, let’s call her Martha, had a massive blind spot (among other issues): she approached the situation from her dog’s point of view. She once said to me, when I had only just moved into the neighborhood, “When he was a puppy people here used to hit him, just for being big and enthusiastic.” I didn’t know the people that well yet, but I knew they weren’t thinking “This dog is big and enthusiastic! He must be punished!” These were nice people. I knew that if they went so far as to hit the dog, it was because they were *scared*. But Martha either didn’t see or didn’t care. The fact that she was sure that what the dog was doing came from innocent motives was the only important truth.

    Of course it spiraled from there. When, as a large full-grown dog, he charged adults in an unmistakably aggressive manner (he charged me once and thank God there was a door between us I could slam), it was because he was scared, and maybe the people in question should ask themselves why the dog was scared of them. When he bit a bike-riding child on the butt hard enough so the boy had trouble sitting down the next day, he was behaving playfully & not aggressively so there was no need to worry that “real” harm could have been done. At that point she was required to leave and there the story ends. Of course very very few dog owners, even out of the many who make the initial mistake of empathizing with their dog rather than a frightened human, ever get that irrational.

    But I think that that initial mistake is the thing to guard against, and I think it’s so easy to fall into. Our dogs are our friends, we name them and care for them, they’re part of the family (especially nowadays with the “fur babies” trend), it’s only natural to empathize with them. And there’s nothing wrong with loving your dog, I think it’s a matter of remembering that they’re not human. Even the small ones have teeth that are capable of inflicting real harm, and they have their own, non-human reasons for sometimes feeling the need to use them, and they don’t necessarily share our values, e.g. that neighbors are just neighbors, not enemies out to steal our territory, and shouldn’t be bitten! (I think this is a lot of the issue–we think of our dogs as totally harmless because they’d never bite us–but that’s because we’re part of their “pack”. They have a completely different attitude–at least innately–to strangers, and strangers often sense it!) Which is why we have to train them and remain aware of the need to protect others from them as well as the need to care for them, and in situations where someone’s scared of them, we should take their fear seriously and it’s that protective duty that should come to the fore. That’s what every neighbor who’s been charged and barked at hopes to see.

    And maybe your neighbor felt she wasn’t seeing, that, OP–I wasn’t sure, in your initial post, that I was seeing it–but your follow-up comment makes me confident that you *are* aware of this and I think you’ll be able to set your neighbor’s fears at rest.

  • Lenore May 1, 2014, 3:14 pm

    I can understand that the neighbour got upset. I can understand that she contacted the authorities, which she had every right to do.

    However, she completely lost all my sympathy when she leapt out of nowhere and accosted the OP – much like the dog she was reporting. Instead of, like many PPs have suggested, contacting the OP when she was calmer to discuss the situation, she cornered the OP and started being very aggressive toward her. It’s human nature to automatically go on the defensive when someone starts verbally attacking you, even if you were in the wrong.

  • GoTwins May 1, 2014, 3:22 pm

    OP, please consider getting a full fence. Our former neighbors’ large dog was never bothered by the shock from the electric fence. Luckily he was just a dopey yellow lab but he often got loose.
    Your neighbor may not have reacted rationally but when I used to take walks I carried a piece of metal pipe for protection from anything that may threaten me. I’d hate to hurt someone’s puppy but I also didn’t want someone’s puppy to hurt *me*.

  • Cat May 1, 2014, 4:18 pm

    I would have tried to find out which neighbor had the problem and gone over with my fiance to apologize and to assure the lady that the dog would be properly secured. That would have said, “You were right. We recognize the problem and will resolve it. You will not have a problem with our dog in the future.” Taking responsibility and being proactive resolves a lot of potential problems.
    Dobbies can be very fast and can jump. Fence the backyard if the local authority won’t allow fences in the front.
    You don’t know what will scare some folks. I have miniature horses (30″ at the shoulder) and some visitors react as if they were draft horses that were about to stomp them and then trample them underfoot.

  • Ergala May 1, 2014, 4:53 pm

    @Nocturnal Sunshine why on earth would the OP’s dog be removed and euthanized??? Simply for running up to someone and barking? Really? If that can really happen then there would be far fewer dogs around because I’ve lost count of how many have done that to me or my friends. Just because the op has a dobie does not mean it’s a mean dog for pete’s sake. People have the same thoughts about pit bulls and german shepards. I used to be terrified of pit bulls until a friend of mine adopted one and I discovered what sweet dogs they are with the proper up bringing. I really cannot stand the bashing of breeds, it’s not the breed that is bad, it’s the owners that cause the problems. If people learned to read animal body language too they would react differently as well. It’s not hard to see how an animal is feeling just by the position of their tail and ears.

    I’m part of a running community and running into loose dogs is actually a common issue. Pretty much everyone runs with either pepper spray or a small air horn. Usually pepper spray though.

  • Jays May 1, 2014, 5:13 pm

    OP, I’m from a family of animal lovers. I love dogs. I have nothing whatsoever against Dobermans.

    But as perspective, while I wouldn’t have lectured you like that, I’m still very, VERY cool to one neighbor on our street. I was walking my toddler son in his stroller one day and her large dog was loose … it came tearing at us, barking madly and I threw myself in front of my son, who shrieked bloody murder. I know dogs pretty well, but in the moment, this dog looked pretty darned aggressive.

    Into this scene, the neighbor sauntered out. “Oh, he’s out again. What can you do. He’s friendly, don’t worry.”

    Now, the dog apparently was quite friendly, but it scared the heck out of me and my son. She never apologized and got quite defensive when I didn’t just laugh and say, “Oh, it’s OK.”

    “Everyone knows he’s friendly” … but I didn’t. And we learned over the years this was a pattern.

    And my son? He’s now 9 and he’s still very, very cautious, sometimes scared, around dogs. Which saddens me.

  • David May 1, 2014, 5:35 pm

    I also recommend a physical fence – a friend has a beautiful, well-trained large dog who never would go past the electric fence. Unfortunately, their next door neighbor had a small, poofy dog that didn’t seem trained at all and was very vicious – the small dog made the larger dog’s life miserable and, of course, the next-door neighbor felt that her precious dog was allowed anywhere it wanted to go.

    The fence made the large, patient, loving dog’s life much easier.

  • Rosie May 1, 2014, 6:29 pm

    I have a very sweet Peke, and would never consider an electric fence. She’s older and not that active, but I guarantee that if she saw something she wanted to investigate, she’d go for it and not care about the shock. Pekes are headstrong dogs, and she definitely is. So I chose to keep others, and her, safe by installing a physical fence. My neighbor has the invisible, and it does not keep his dogs in the yard if they really want to leave. And, as stated by others, your dog is at the mercy of any other roaming animal. Mine only weighs 12 pounds; she’d be no match for a dog that wanted to hurt her.

  • Marie May 1, 2014, 6:49 pm

    As the dog owner, it is your responsibility to keep him on your property. That includes taking whatever steps are necessarily to keep him there until he learns to stay within the invisible fence. If it means being outside with him when he goes potty, hooking him to a leash that’s tied to something, etc., you should be taking those steps. It is not your neighbor’s responsibility, nor anyone’s else’s, to accommodate your dog’s present lack of training.

  • just sayin' May 1, 2014, 7:59 pm

    “disproportionally angry”???? Talk about denial. It is NEVER ok to let your dog unrestrained out on public property. It doesn’t matter how “friendly” or “young” your dog is–that jogger had every right to not be accosted on a public sidewalk, and OP was 10000000% in the wrong. Dog owners (well, at least the irresponsible ones like the OP who diminish their responsibility in situations such as these) seem to think people that don’t want their dog’s vomitslobber all over their clothes are “crazy”. The world will be a better place once Animal Control gets ahold of the dog you are too irresponsible to take care of.

    • Jinx May 2, 2014, 10:47 am


      “The world will be a better place once Animal Control gets ahold of the dog you are too irresponsible to take care of.” This seems a little harsh, doesn’t it?

      This is the kind of response that would immediately throw me and be difficult to respond to, where I would naturally feel very defensive and confused again (very confused, you don’t know me at all, and this comment seems hostile). I’m making an effort to try to be more eloquent and understanding in my interactions with people, and I understand it’s difficult for all of us when we are upset to keep calm and composed, as it was for me when I didn’t see any of this coming. I think it helps when all of us who have a point to make attempt our best to display our points in as non-inflammatory a way as possible.

      I do watch him when I let him out.

      The same situation (dog running onto sidewalks and barking at me) has happened to me, and I was annoyed, but never angry, especially days after, so that’s why it seemed disproportionally angry, to me.

      In my response, I admitted that I could see how I did not react in the best way possible. I was very thrown by the sudden confrontation. I certainly did not mean to upset anyone through my story, I honestly wanted level-headed advice on how I should have reacted. I was hoping there was hope and solution for me, more than just I’m irresponsible and should lose my dog. I can learn and I do want to be a good, kind person. I’m sorry that doesn’t show.