People objecting to your dog just being near them

I’m curious as to the general view of this.

The location: pretty much the primary dog-walking park in town (about 3 miles long - always lots of dogs, joggers, cyclists, walkers, etc.). It’s not a “dog park” but it is very dog-full, and always has been. Lots of dogs walking, running, playing fetch, playing with each other.

The dog: a golden retriever puppy, 6 months olds. Very friendly; no hint of aggression.

The “victims”: a middle-aged couple walking along.

The crime: my dog ran (more trotted) past them (about 5 feet away); barely even noticed they existed, certainly didn’t approach, touch or acknowledge them.

The result - woman starts flapping her hands about, and her husband turns and shouts at us “Put it on a f*****g leash!”

So, what do you think? I’m trying to present it without comment, just the facts, and not to distort it with my opinion. Should I have put my dog on said leash at his demand? Was he being reasonable in his reaction?

Welcome to my (smoker’s) world.

Does you community have a leash law? If so, put it on a fucking leash. If not, just ignore them and go on about your business.

Not knowing the dog park, if it wasn’t an enclosed space where the dogs could roam free, then yes, your dog should have been on a leash, not the least for the dogs safety.

OTOH, people who are afraid of dogs are afraid of dogs regardless of on a leash. I was once walking our Scotty dog and passed a couple with a baby in a stroller waiting for the bus. When we walked past this couple, the woman swoops down and picks up the baby, holding him/her close to her bosom, now SAFE from our 11-inch high, 22-pound Scottish Terror!!!

I have a semi-rational fear of dogs. I’ve been bitten. Twice.
Once as a kid, once as an adult. I don’t remember the early one too much…the one as an adult
was my sister’s dog. Turns out he was going deaf and blind, and was very protective of my sister. The dog didn’t know me well (Sister lives 5 hours away), and when I got into his line of site, he pounced. Luckily, he didn’t have much in the way of teeth…but he still drew blood.

Ok…that being said. If I’m in an area that is clearly dog friendly that specifically allows unleashed dogs (either by lack of a law, or by exception), it’s on me to be comfortable with the dogs there.

If I’m walking down the sidewalk, any dogs I encounter should have people attached to them. In my location, we do have a leash law.

So basically, I’ll echo what Omar Little says. If it’s required, then the dog should be on a leash. If it isn’t, then let guy run and have some fun - in the right place.

If it’s officially an off-leash park – no.

Otherwise – yes.

My knee-jerk reaction would be a sharp kick to the head with the admonition ‘Watch your fucking mouth’. I do realize, intellectually, that this response is unlikely to improve the situation, and would probably get me done for assault. I keep my temper in check as much as possible, but I find comments like that about my dog or my kids ‘push a button’.

It depends on the leash law for where you were - if the park required a leash at that time, well, you should have had the puppy on a leash. If it’s legal to have the puppy off leash, your articulate interlocutor can suck it.

Having sat through many a public meeting on park use, I can attest that the compromises that keep the dog owners, young parents and nearby property owners happy are far more difficult to reach than anything the UN has ever dealt with.

Lots of the people around here are terrified of my dog, a 6 month old Jack Russell puppy.

An acquaintance from Bangladesh explained that part of the reason is that dogs in his country of origin run wild and aren’t friendly, so people immigrating from there quite naturally don’t react to dogs here in a welcoming way, and they pass it on to their children - there’s a very high percentage of Bangladeshi families around here.

Quite a few of the non-Bangladeshi people I pass react in fear to my dog too - there’s one woman who screams and swears really loudly if the dog goes within ten feet of her. Sometimes she says she’ll call the police.

It’s getting weirder and weirder. There’s one building I avoid passing because someone there always shouts ‘dirty dog!’ in the voice of a muppet and throws things at us. One of the local caretakers has chosen to ban dogs from a stretch of grass that’s supposed to be a dog park. And the majority of the mothers I see pull their children away from my dog and, if possible, cross to the other side of the road.

This is all when the dog’s on the lead and just bouncing along happily sniffing at the world around her. It actually gets me down a fair bit to have such a huge number of people react with hatred to her.

Anyway, if it’s a place where people can reasonably expect dogs to roam free, then no, they’re not in the right to tell you to get their dog away when the dog goes near them, though it’s fair enough to make sure your dog doesn’t jump up at them or sniff them unless they show that they want it.

Being sworn at like that wouldn’t have encouraged me to accede to his wishes either.

Concurred. Of course, swearing at other people in public is just plain rude.

Yes, you should have put your dog on a leash.

I’m a dog owner and my dog and I hang out at many parks. The only park he is off leash is at the dog park.

Sounds like a great way to pass on an irrational fear of dogs to her tyke.

Unless it’s a dog park, I’d keep the dog on a leash. Here are leash laws by state(assuming you live in the US)

A 22 lb dog is plenty big enough to bite or frighten a baby. The dog probably weighs more than the baby does. Try to imagine a beast the same size & weight as you, coming towards you while you’re strapped into a chair and unable to get away. If I was that mother, I’d have picked up my baby too.

Even if the dog was on a lead?

Just to clarify, since several people brought it up - dogs are permitted off-leash in this area (one of the few areas nearby that this is possible - without this area, a lot of dogs would have VERY miserable lives), and there are dozens of them there at any time doing just that. It’s 3-miles long, so one isn’t crammed in with a few dozen dogs in a small area, but you’ll meet one as you walk along every minute or so at least. We do not have dedicated “dog parks” in the UK to my knowledge - at least not one in my city that I know if, but there are areas that dogs are allowed off-leash and areas that they are not. This is the former.

Clearly the issue here was that the wife had some kind of phobia regarding dogs - she was clearly panicked by its very presence. I found it odd that she was willingly walking through a very dog-heavy area, but she’s got the right to do so. What I objected to was the vitriol directed at us by her husband. While I don’t mind accomodating a phobia that I know about, and it would have been a trifle to just walk the other way had I known, there was no way of knowing that the mere presence of a dog would upset them that much.

To be clear - our dog did not touch them, look at them, acknowledge them - it merely happened to pass within 5 feet of them. And is very much not a scary looking dog (golden retriever puppies are pretty harmless looking).

Yes, a lead would obviously prevent the dog from biting the baby, but not from frightening it. I just thought it was ridiculous for someone above to claim that the mother picking up her baby was going to cause the baby to fear dogs, when it’s perfectly normal and instinctive to fear (relatively) large animals, and in fact, that was probably exactly what the mother was trying to prevent.

Actually, it probably worked to prevent such a fear. Leash or not, the dog could easily have jumped up & scared the hell out of the baby, leading to problems down the road. All the baby knows now is that mom picked her up - its unlikely she made the connection “There was a dog headed my way, then mom picked me up, so I should be afraid of dogs.”

OP, given your clarification that it’s an off-leash area, they were out of line.

I assume people who overreact to my dog have been bitten or otherwise traumatized by a dog, so I do my best to cut them slack.

However, if you have a dog phobia and you are taking a leisurely stroll through an off-leash area, you’re on your own.

And I would have yelled back to said profanity shouter that it was an off-leash area, but I’m a small woman and don’t usually have to think in terms of someone getting angry at me and beating my ass.

This is the reason that I love dogs but despise dog owners- they are the cruelest people on the planet. Dogs are not meant to live in apartments and only walk on concrete. If you don’t have enough room for the dog to be a dog, don’t buy a dog. What is the point of owning a dog in that situation, selfishness? self gratification? Buy a hamster for goodness sake! The dog owners then take their dog outside and the lazy twits haven’t trained the dog to leave people alone and to heel and to obey commands.

I wouldn’t have sworn at you, rather stated my right to defend myself from your dog the next time it happens.

Yes, you’ve hit a strong nerve in me on this one so for your own sake.

But why did she assume that the dog would frighten the baby to begin with, though? I don’t think that one behavior is going to cause a phobia but growing up with a mother whose attitude is that dogs are to be feared might. I see dogs all the time walking around and if I were with a baby it would never occur to me to pick one up out of a stroller to protect it. You might as well just ditch the stroller. If it were a really out of control looking dog, maybe, but just a dog walking? That’s such a non-event to me.