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I’d like to explain the situation and be as fair as possible to both sides to get opinions.

I live in a gated community of about 200 homes. We share a decent sized park area in the middle of our community. This park has a playground area, and large grass area (about 200 feet by 200 feet).

One person has a dog that fetches a ball off-leash in the park. This dog appears to be well behaved. The owner appears to have the dog under control.

The second person walks his dog on leash. This owner’s dog barks and appears uncomfortable with the off-leash dog running and chasing the ball in the park.

Both owners keep their distance from the other. The owner with the off-leash dog tends to stay on the other side of the park as the owner with the leashed dog.

The owner with the leashed dog wants to walk around the park, but can’t with the off-leash dog running and fetching the ball with his owner.
Is there a problem here? If so, who is at fault? Should the owner with the off-leash dog respect the fact the leashed dog is clearly uncomfortable to be around an off-leash dog? Or should the owner of the leashed dog let the off-leash dog run in the park even if that makes things difficult for his own dog?

I’d love to get some opinions.

Thanks!
 

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Is the owner with the off-leash dog breaking leash laws?
This. If dogs are supposed to be on leash, the person having the dog off-leash is in the wrong. If there's no law, I guess in a perfect world, whoever is there first should have 'priority'... It would be rude from the owner of the off-leash dog to start throwing the ball towards the uncomfortable dog, but if the off-leash dog was there first, you'd think the other person would walk their dog elsewhere (it's what I would do at least, considering that my dog is the same way).
 

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First, I am ASSUMING NO RULES ARE BROKEN by being off leash or the person with the off leash dog has permission by whatever means.

If the person tossing the ball has a dog totally focused and under control no one is "at fault" here. The leashed dog is not being approached and (if the park is large enough) they should be able to walk their dog. If it is a tiny park then he who is there first has the park. Again, if the off leash dog does not approach or interact with the leashed dog then the leashed dog owner has some work to do with their dog. If the unleashed dog's owner sees the other person, and the park is tiny then the courteous thing would be to say, "I will be done in a few minutes" and then follow through.

Before my recent move I had access to a 50 acre town park that had a leash law. I trained my dog there both on and off leash but walked my dog on the trail on leash. I had permission (the local police had their HQ in the park and often would come and watch me train). My dog NEVER bothered another dog when off leash. She was WORKING and we stayed far away from other people.

Well, one day I was working my dog in a heeling pattern (off leash). I then put her in a long down. We were WELL AWAY (as in 200 feet) from anyone else with a dog and not bothering anyone and the park was vacant other than the kids playground.

This guy shows up with a large black dog.. looked like a Newfie cross. My dog was lying down and focused on me. This guy had his dog on leash and was 200 feet away. His dog was reactive and no where near us. He took a walk with his dog (just under a mile around the perimeter of the park on a paved trail). I continued to work with my dog and he came back to his car. I was about done training and had just put my dog's leash on. Again.. we were about 200 feet apart (or more) and this guy starts yelling at me because my dog had been off leash. He told me it was 'State Law' that all dogs have to be leashed (this is not true). I just ignored him.

He went to the police station and complained. I could hear it (summer-windows open). The police asked him if my dog had approached him or bothered him in any way. He said No, but it was just "wrong." I will never forget the response from the fellow on duty, "Sir, your dog was lunging and barking on leash and you had little control. She comes here and trains all the time. She and her dog never bother anyone and her dogs are trained. If you spent as much time training your dog as she does her two we would not be having this conversation. Good day."
 

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Lol I think the guy with the leashed dog should use it as an opportunity to train his dog.......
I do kinda feel bad for that guy though, my dog is a terror on leash when she sees another dog, which is extremely embarrassing lol. And so far even with treats I haven't managed to get her attention to stop her from barking when we see other dogs on walks... so sometimes it's not always that easy.

But again, if I was in that situation and just wanted to walk my dog in peace, I would avoid the area where there is usually another dog in the first place.
 

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It depends on if there are leash laws for that park. If the park does not require dogs to be on-leash, then the off-leash dog owner is fine and the on-leash dog owner should find a different place to walk their dog if it is making their dog uncomfortable, or work on training the dog to just ignore other dogs.

If the park has leash laws and requires dogs to be on-leash at all times, then the off-leash dog owner is wrong and should have his dog on a leash, regardless of how well trained the dog is.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I do kinda feel bad for that guy though, my dog is a terror on leash when she sees another dog, which is extremely embarrassing lol. And so far even with treats I haven't managed to get her attention to stop her from barking when we see other dogs on walks... so sometimes it's not always that easy.

But again, if I was in that situation and just wanted to walk my dog in peace, I would avoid the area where there is usually another dog in the first place.
Thanks Franci27,

I totally get it. It's not always that easy for owners and their dogs. In your situation, do you feel other dog owners should change their behavior around you and your dog, or would it be up to you to stay clear of them if your dog is uncomfortable?
 

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I tried to post this a few days ago, but as a new member if needed to be approved. I just thought it didn't post so I posted the same issue on another forum.

The general reply has been that it comes down to the local leash law.

Our private community park does have a city leash ordinance posted so it's clear if the leashed dog owner wanted to push things he could.

I am actually the owner of the off-leash dog.


Let me further explain. My dog is VERY well behaved and is ONLY concerned with playing fetch with me and getting some energy out running in the park. It's her favorite thing in the world and I know that no one else in the park will ever be bothered by my dog running up to them or bothering them in any way (other than her just playing fetch).



At times, there are other off-leash dogs and even on occasion they will run up to us while she is playing fetch and she pays them no mind. Kids use the park at times as well playing ball, frisbee, tag, flying drones, riding hoverboards...you name it and she doesn't bother anyone. She is intensely focused on me as she doesn't want to miss the opportunity if I happen to throw the ball 



I also incorporate training into our game of fetch. I will have her sit or down (with an implied stay), then throw the ball. She will stay seated or laying down and wait for my release command before chasing down the ball. She then immediately brings it straight back and sits by my side. I will even sometimes release her and as she is SPRINTING to get the ball, I will recall her and she will turn and recall in the middle of chasing down the ball instead of retrieving it. Other times I will call out for her to sit or down in the middle of chasing the ball and she will. Then she will wait for my release command to continue getting the ball. I say all this to show that any reasonable person seeing her play fetch would know she is very well trained and has an incredibly strong recall (even while obsessed with sprinting after a ball). 



People that frequent the park know us and know how well behaved she is. We get compliments all the time. The other owner I'm talking about, keeps his distance. He is more than welcome to walk anywhere in the park. He can even walk right past us if he'd like and should feel more than comfortable my dog won't pay him or his dog any attention (as other owners walk past us with their dogs all the time).



It is his dog that is visibly uncomfortable with my dog running around even though we are a good 100+ feet away. His dog starts lunging at the end of the leash and will sometimes bark. In my opinion it doesn't look like a dog that is excited and wants to play. It appears more like a dog that feels it is in danger. This is why out of respect for his dog, I usually just have my dog remain in a sit or down close to me when I see the other owner with his dog approaching the park area. I feel this is a considerate thing to do. The other owner will wait a few minutes looking in our direction and then just usually turn and leave once he figures his dog won't calm down and I haven't left. 



I have seen the other dog have the same type of reaction to others as well. This other dog will lung at the end of his leash and bark at other off-leash and on-leash dogs and even kids riding by on bikes even from a distance.



I should also note that my dog was trained on the remote collar and I always have it on her while in the park. I only have this on in case of some really unexpected emergency. I have not used it in several months and even back then it was for training purposes at low levels. I've yet to need it for an emergency recall, but it is there just in case. 



With all this in mind, does this change any minds? Or should I still simply follow the city leash ordinance even though it's sort of clear it's not something our private community as a whole cares much about.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
He went to the police station and complained. I could hear it (summer-windows open). The police asked him if my dog had approached him or bothered him in any way. He said No, but it was just "wrong." I will never forget the response from the fellow on duty, "Sir, your dog was lunging and barking on leash and you had little control. She comes here and trains all the time. She and her dog never bother anyone and her dogs are trained. If you spent as much time training your dog as she does her two we would not be having this conversation. Good day."
Love this!!!!!
 

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The bottom line and actual reality is, no matter how well behaved/trained your dog is:

A law is a law and if there is a problem - cute little stories from other posters aside - you can be ticketed and fined. If there is an altercation with another dog, you will be liable, fully and completely, just because your dog is not on leash.

So, no, my mind here does not change.

I will say freely and admit freely that I often use places in my community to let my dogs off leash that are technically on leash areas. HOWEVER, the second my dog becomes a 'problem' for someone - whether they're doing anything wrong or not - they go on leash. That may another dog being fearful, another dog acting aggressively, a child who is afraid or dog phobic, my dog presenting a distraction or challenge to a child, dog, or adult. If my dog is creating ANY kind of issue for ANYONE, the dog goes on leash.

Because I AM BREAKING THE LAW.

A dog lunging and barking at the end of a leash is not against the law.. The dog can do that, in public or otherwise, as long as it is controlled enough (even just by the leash and distance) not to hurt someone. It can be reported to authorities and there is no fall out because while obnoxious it's not doing anything wrong.

My dog being off leash is against the law. It can't do that. It has no right to do that. It has no right to be there doing that. Ergo the moment it becomes even remotely inconvenient: dog gets leashed. Because no matter, again, whether the dog does anything *else* wrong, or is perfectly behaved, we're doing something illegal. THere's a problem that can be reported.
 

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The bottom line and actual reality is, no matter how well behaved/trained your dog is:

A law is a law and if there is a problem - cute little stories from other posters aside - you can be ticketed and fined. If there is an altercation with another dog, you will be liable, fully and completely, just because your dog is not on leash.

So, no, my mind here does not change.

I will say freely and admit freely that I often use places in my community to let my dogs off leash that are technically on leash areas. HOWEVER, the second my dog becomes a 'problem' for someone - whether they're doing anything wrong or not - they go on leash. That may another dog being fearful, another dog acting aggressively, a child who is afraid or dog phobic, my dog presenting a distraction or challenge to a child, dog, or adult. If my dog is creating ANY kind of issue for ANYONE, the dog goes on leash.

Because I AM BREAKING THE LAW.

A dog lunging and barking at the end of a leash is not against the law.. The dog can do that, in public or otherwise, as long as it is controlled enough (even just by the leash and distance) not to hurt someone. It can be reported to authorities and there is no fall out because while obnoxious it's not doing anything wrong.

My dog being off leash is against the law. It can't do that. It has no right to do that. It has no right to be there doing that. Ergo the moment it becomes even remotely inconvenient: dog gets leashed. Because no matter, again, whether the dog does anything *else* wrong, or is perfectly behaved, we're doing something illegal. THere's a problem that can be reported.
Yep.

I have very carefully made note of all the local leash laws, regulations and private property rules (private as in admission fee parks or quasi-public spaces like commercial areas, not private like some individuals property). I whenever possible I go to on-leash only areas because I do not want any chance of encountering an off leash dog who is legally off leash. Don't really want to encounter any off leash dog but unfortunately, there are people who may or may not have "complete" control over their dogs and choose not to properly leash up.

You can't bring back a dead dog from that one time the dog disobeys and runs into the wrong on-leash dog. You can't fix the problems a fight can cause for the other person and their dog. Breed laws being what they are, my pit bull looking dog will most likely be found at fault regardless of us being the ones obeying the law. Yes, an actual court case (in another state) involved a loose dog and a leashed bully breed walking with its human and the bully was found at fault. That's even aside from general hassles and public perception problems etc.

BTW, do a few searches and you will find this topic has been soundly and thoroughly debated here before. There will always be a few people who fall back on the "my dog is well trained" but honestly, I don't care if someone's dog is actually a transformed human and speaks five languages and won't step a foot away from the human with him-- because I do NOT know that and for our safety have to assume that the dog is an average dog who will sometimes ignore the human and run over to greet a strange dog and yelling "He's friendly" 100 feet behind your rushing dog does not make the situation safe.

I also do not trust remote collars. In some places, a remote collar is legally a leash but personally I think those laws are not understanding both technology and dog behavior. Heck, just over Christmas break we had an issue with that. My father was walking Eva (on leash, on public sidewalk) and someone's small dog wearing an invisible fence collar ran at them past the "fence" line. My father yelled at the owner's kid to grab their dog. Kid stood there. Adult owner finally picked up their dog and then yelled at my father for hollaring at the kid and berated him for having a dog that reacted to a strange dog running up on her and "Oh, battery on the collar must be dead"

Physical fences fail, leashes can break. But if a leash breaks, you are still OK legally because you were following the law.
 

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If there is a leash law, you are in the wrong. Doesn't matter how well trained your dog is. Maybe that person frequents that park because he is trying to train his dog to be more comfortable around other dogs, and he does it there because he assumes everyone is following the law. That person doesn't know how well trained your dog is, that your dog probably won't bother him. That person with the reactive dog is probably feeling rather anxious every single time he sees your dog off leash. I've been that person before with the reactive dog who I was trying to train, and I went to places where I knew there would be controlled dogs, only to find that someone wasn't following the law. Those off leash dogs have run up to me more often than they have remained with their owners and ignored me. Seeing off leash dogs caused me to grow anxious, distracting me from the task at hand.

I know that none of that will change your mind, and you'll probably still use that park for off leash activities, but at least consider what other people and dogs might be going through, and that perhaps they go to that park because they think that everyone will follow the law and they won't encounter off-leash dogs.
 

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It falls to a few factors, leash laws being the biggest factor.

Have you tried speaking to the other person and finding out there feelings in the matter?

Have you tried asking there general schedule? (Maybe find time in which you can avoid each other).

200 x 200 is a pretty small area really.
 

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The bottom line and actual reality is, no matter how well behaved/trained your dog is:

A law is a law and if there is a problem - cute little stories from other posters aside - you can be ticketed and fined. If there is an altercation with another dog, you will be liable, fully and completely, just because your dog is not on leash.

So, no, my mind here does not change.

I will say freely and admit freely that I often use places in my community to let my dogs off leash that are technically on leash areas. HOWEVER, the second my dog becomes a 'problem' for someone - whether they're doing anything wrong or not - they go on leash. That may another dog being fearful, another dog acting aggressively, a child who is afraid or dog phobic, my dog presenting a distraction or challenge to a child, dog, or adult. If my dog is creating ANY kind of issue for ANYONE, the dog goes on leash.

Because I AM BREAKING THE LAW.

A dog lunging and barking at the end of a leash is not against the law.. The dog can do that, in public or otherwise, as long as it is controlled enough (even just by the leash and distance) not to hurt someone. It can be reported to authorities and there is no fall out because while obnoxious it's not doing anything wrong.

My dog being off leash is against the law. It can't do that. It has no right to do that. It has no right to be there doing that. Ergo the moment it becomes even remotely inconvenient: dog gets leashed. Because no matter, again, whether the dog does anything *else* wrong, or is perfectly behaved, we're doing something illegal. THere's a problem that can be reported.
THIS. I Can’t add any more because Capt Jack said it all.
 

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Yep. I'm on the other side in this scenario; my dogs are always leashed because they are reactive and I am a responsible owner who does not want them running up to other dogs and getting into fights. We avoid areas where dogs are allowed off-leash, because those areas are not for us. I get very annoyed when dogs are running off-leash in leash-only areas, even if the dogs are well-trained and won't approach us, because A) I don't KNOW that, and I can't know that until I get close enough to test it, and I'm not going to risk my dogs' safety; B) my dogs get worked up at the sight of a loose dog running anyway, thanks to some bad experiences with loose dogs rushing us in the past, which puts them on edge for the rest of our walk; and C) my dogs and I have to change our route, often crossing a road or going well out of our way, just because someone else is breaking the law, and I hate that.

As far as training goes, I've been working on "look at that" type stuff for their whole lives, and every time they start to get better, some loose dog rushes them and sets them back. It's like clockwork.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for all the input.

Keep in mind this isn't your typical park. This is a smaller private community park. It's in the middle of our gated community. If it matters, I would never go to a public park and let me dog run off-leash. The difference in my mind (and I very well could be wrong...and why I came for opinions), is that we all pretty much know who uses the park with their dogs and how those dogs are. He has seen my dog plenty of times and sees how well behaved she is while we are training. He has seen other kids and dogs run up to us and that my dog pays them no attention. He has seen other people walk their dogs right past us and my dog does not bother them. Some leashed dogs walking by even react and the owners usually say THEY are sorry because they know my dog and know she only cares about paying attention to me and the ball :)

My dog isn't just running all over the park. If there is anyone else at the park, she is either by my side, or on a line to retrieve her ball (away from others) and bring it right back. When I see this particular owner approaching with his dog approaching, I will out of courtesy for his fearful dog, put mine in a sit or down (with implied stay) next to me.

I can understand completely the owners with fearful dogs not knowing whether or not an unknown off-leash dog is safe to be around or not. I can't imagine this is the case with him. He has seen enough to know my dog could care less about his (or others) and would never go up to other dogs while we are playing her favorite game that is 100x more interesting to her than another dog :)
 

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Thanks for all the input.

Keep in mind this isn't your typical park. This is a smaller private community park. It's in the middle of our gated community.
[....]

My dog isn't just running all over the park. If there is anyone else at the park, she is either by my side, or on a line to retrieve her ball (away from others) and bring it right back. When I see this particular owner approaching with his dog approaching, I will out of courtesy for his fearful dog, put mine in a sit or down (with implied stay) next to me.

I can understand completely the owners with fearful dogs not knowing whether or not an unknown off-leash dog is safe to be around or not. I can't imagine this is the case with him. He has seen enough to know my dog could care less about his (or others) and would never go up to other dogs while we are playing her favorite game that is 100x more interesting to her than another dog :)
I'd actually have MORE of an expectation of being able to walk without worrying about off-leash dogs in a gated community on a private park. I'd presumably be paying ($$) for the privilege of having an open space that is legally on-leash and is enforced. Especially since most HOA type rules are enforced more strictly than the average city law is enforced.

I've had to walk past dogs in a nice "down stay" in public parks with my dog(s) on leash. Two things stand out to me-- one is that my more perceptive dog can and does differentiate between a dog in a sit without a leash and a dog with a leash, he does get a little confused by retractable leashes which are near invisible, and does get more on edge without a leash. This is before I might notice the difference myself. The other is that I have had dogs break their stay and come at us. A leash at least gives me an expectation of 30-60 seconds of control even if the dog were then strong enough to pull the owner around or yank the leash from his hands. It is starting room that doesn't happen with no leash at all and if the owner drops the leash, it is something for another person to step on or grab at to help us out whereas fully off-leash means nothing in terms of a stranger assisting.

I do not trust strangers' dogs off leash. Plain and simple. Cannot. And every encounter with a loose dog is a massive setback for anyone trying to train a reactive dog.

(BTW- it is "couldN'T care less" cause well, what you wrote is more often the case from what I have seen)

Edit-- I just now thought about what you called a large area. 200 by 200 is not large. 200 feet is a distance easily covered by a fit large dog in a few seconds. My yard is about 175 feet deep from door to back fence. Eva has run that fast enough jump from the door to catch a squirrel that was half across the yard before it got to the fence.
 

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I've had to walk past dogs in a nice "down stay" in public parks with my dog(s) on leash. Two things stand out to me-- one is that my more perceptive dog can and does differentiate between a dog in a sit without a leash and a dog with a leash, he does get a little confused by retractable leashes which are near invisible, and does get more on edge without a leash.
It's funny how perceptive they are, isn't it? My dogs don't even bat an eye at a dog tethered in a yard, even if that dog barks at them. They know it can't get to them. Loose dogs behind fences bother them a little, but not that much. They don't like leashed dogs on walks, but they're more okay with them than they are with totally unleashed dogs. They know every loose dog could potentially rush them because it's happened so many times.
 

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Thanks Franci27,

I totally get it. It's not always that easy for owners and their dogs. In your situation, do you feel other dog owners should change their behavior around you and your dog, or would it be up to you to stay clear of them if your dog is uncomfortable?
Definitely my responsibility! I try to avoid dogs during my walks, but if someone walks towards me on the street and I can't go around, I'll cross the street and hope for the best, lol. I've had a bunch of loose dogs approach mine too, and I agree with the other poster above, it's often a huge set back. The bottom line is that dogs don't know if another dog is well trained and will approach them or not. Either way in that situation, I would just turn around if I saw a dog in that park, loose or not...

That being said, I agree with everyone else... small community, leash law, you know that some dogs are not comfortable with your dog running loose, yes, you're in the wrong, and I'd leash my dog when the other shows up for sure.
 
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