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.