Oh, He Won’t Bite: A Runner’s Plea to Dog Owners

In case you didn’t know, most public parks have this rule! Image courtesy of salagraphics.com.

“Oh, he won’t bite.” How many of you have heard that before? How many of you unfortunately realized the owner was lying? I was two houses away from home when a 1-year-old boxer took a bite out of my left calf. I had assumed there was an electric fence (mistake #1) and kept on running. I tried to keep calm as I passed the unleashed baby. As a result, I didn’t realize his teeth were sunken in until about five seconds later. Five. Long. Seconds. Oh my God, he’s biting me! The twelve-year-old girl in charge of letting Buster out stood back in shock. Luckily there was a witness.

It turned out that she witnessed this dog at-large many times. When I got the young girl’s parents’ number, I tried to listen to the father’s story. He stated that he was under the impression that his daughter was letting Buster out with his leash on. I played family therapist and trusted that the father would engage in an important conversation with his daughter rather than pressing charges. This happened in April of 2011. I have yet to see Buster off his leash.

A dog also bit my boyfriend James while on a pizza delivery. The owner’s famous words as the dog ran out the door to bite off James’s shoe and puncture his foot? “He won’t bite.” $3,000 later, that dog owner learned his lesson. I hope.

Yes, even the cutest can snap. Photo courtesy of fark.com

Dog owners, I’m a dog lover. I even spent some time volunteering at an animal shelter walking dogs. I’m enough of a lover to know that I don’t have the time, space, nor the energy to own one right now. That’s why I have a cat. But my point is, I’m tired of seeing dogs off their leashes when likely IT’S THE LAW that they be leashed. I say likely because most states do not have specific mandates requiring the use of leashes. However, most public parks and city ordinances prohibit owners from walking or running with their dog unleashed. This is for EVERYONE’S safety, including the dogs.

Don’t worry. He just likes to make ferocious facial expressions and lunge at people. image via chihuahuaall.com

James and I have since had our fair share of close encounters. My recent favorite incident was on a trail, where a large dog was off the leash with a pack of people. We naturally slowed down, just as you would for any type of animal that is loose. As we got closer, and stopped running altogether, the dog came charging toward me and proceeded to jump. “Oh, he’s a puppy, he likes to jump.” We carefully passed but I couldn’t help but say, “He needs to be on his leash.” Her reply? “Look how big he is! You come back here and try to walk him!”

Really?

Dog owners, if you can’t control your dog on a leash, how can you control him off the leash in a public park? If you don’t have at least an acre of land that is secured, then don’t get a dog that requires daily exercise for hours on end. Ok, that may be a bit of a stretch but seriously, know what kind of dog you are getting into before adding him to the family. Don’t bring him home because he looks cute. They all look cute! If you are not responsible enough to learn about his breed, then you need to rethink your intentions.

If you take the time to learn how to use the leash, he might actually like the leash! Image courtesy of puplistings.com

When we were in England, we saw many dogs off their leashes. But they were different. We slowed down for the first few, though they never even made eye contact. My guess is that the owners know their best friend. They may have even taken the time to train them or they may have watched a lot of episodes of the Dog Whisperer. Whatever it may be, the country certainly found a healthy balance between letting a dog be free and at the same time knowing its boundaries. The majority of the time, the dogs were on their leashes and not once did one look like he was uncomfortable, jumpy, or pulling the owner.

I don’t think it’s fair to say that runners shouldn’t have to slow down when approaching a dog, especially if one happens to be off the leash. Would you adjust your pace if you saw a black bear on your run? We must do the same for dogs. Dogs are not humans. When in nature, they can turn on the best of us. Running behind, at, or in front of them can potentially set them off. It would be irresponsible of you to not at least have a careful eye when approaching a dog. But at the same time, I beg you owners to…

  • Think twice about the dog you are getting
  • Study said dog
  • Take obedience classes
  • If you are in a public park, KEEP HIM ON THE LEASH!!!
See, I love dogs, too!

Have you had any frightening experiences with dogs? Do you believe a dog should be kept on his or her leash?

This post was originally published on July 9, 2012.

 

I write about mindfulness, mental health, and the professional sport of running with the occasional poking fun at the sport. When I am not running, I'm either helping people as a counselor or trying to make them laugh as an amateur open mic comedian.

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52 comments

  1. So many people don’t take the time to properly train their dogs… When I visited Europe, EVERYONE had dogs off leash everywhere… I was amazed! I learned that people in Europe are 100% responsible for their pets actions, so they invest more into training.

    Since then, I’ve spent long hours (and a bit of cash) training my dog on and off leash. I walk her off leash around my neighborhood, where we know people and I’m familiar with the routine. I know when the kids get out of school, or when certain dogs are outside, or what houses to avoid when.

    At the park is different. I keep her on leash when it’s busy and there are people around. When there’s nobody around and its pretty quiet, I let her run. I keep a wary eye out for other people and pets, and make her come and sit before she has a chance to do anything else. She’s friendly and loving, but she’s a cattle dog, a herding breed. She likes chasing moving things.. mind you, not in an aggressive way, but in a playful way. But how would a runner/biker/dog owner know that? All they see is my dog charging at them, usually barking, and it’s not considerate or fair to do that to other people, so I do what I can to give her freedom in the most controlled circumstances I can.

    I really urge all dog owners, if you want to have your dog off-leash, you MUST invest time and money into proper training, but even then, know when it’s appropriate to allow them this freedom. It gives the rest of us a bad rap when you’re irresponsible with your pet.

    1. Barb, I so appreciate your conscientiousness! But for the sake of your dog, runners and everyone else involved please keep your dog on a leash when you’re at the park. Please please please!!!

    2. Interesting perspective, Barb. I’m glad someone else noticed the difference in Europe. I have friends that like to do the same thing with their dogs (off the leash when it’s not busy) but I have to agree with Salty here. If you are in a park (that’s not like the ones in NYC/other big cities) I think it’s best to keep it on the leash. Maybe he/she really won’t bite but they could run away, get bit by something else, get hit by a car, etc.

      Thanks for sharing!

      1. Wish I could figure out something to say to dog owners almost all of whom invariably say “don’t worry he doesn’t bite ” when someone either looks scared or expresses their Fear and discomfort around dogs. Minimizing and disrespecting that the person is scared

  2. Better to not let them off-leash at all, unless there are certain hours where this is allowed. Even if you can control your dog you can’t control people or other animals not to be aggressive or afraid of your dog. And what if something sets her off running and she gets hit by a car or hurt? I’m sorry, but unless you have adequate, fenced-in space on private property allowing your dog to run free is dangerous and irresponsible.

    That said, many communities have great solutions for this problem. Prospect Park here in Brooklyn has off-leash hours in both the morning and evening, so people who come into the park at those times know to expect a lot of dogs running free. I personally am uncomfortable meeting a strange dog off-leash no matter how friendly or well-behaved he looks, so it’s nice for me to be able to know if I should find another place to run safely, where I can trust I won’t be chased down, or worse.

    1. Yes! I love that the NYC parks do that. I will admit I rarely was afraid of off-leash dogs when I lived in NYC. One, most of them were very small and two, the dog culture is so different. People take their dogs for a walk in the park because that’s the one nice place to take a walk. As I said in my comment, here many (not all of course) people walk their dogs in the park to go on a nature adventure with their dogs. I don’t trust ANY unleashed dog here because it’s not the culture to train them to walk next to their owners and not bother other people as it is in places like London or NYC. Here people rely on electric fences, etc. in lieu of good training and that and my many many encounters with irresponsible dog owners is enough for me to be very very wary.

    2. Oh man, we need a few parks like this! But Salty’s right, we don’t treat our dogs the same here, sadly. I do know there are more dog parks popping up in the area and I believe dogs can run free there (Akron, Stow, Lakewood….)

  3. Oh boy. Where to start. I love animals, but I admittedly have a fear of big dogs, especially the infamous (whether that infamy is fair or unfair) breeds: pitbulls, rottweilers, dobermans, boxers, etc. And that’s not when running! Add in running and all dogs, particularly those unleashed, are a little scary!

    One time I was running in my old urban neighborhood and I turned a corner and a big fluffy dog came barreling down the street at me. I panicked inside, but all I could think to do was to pretend like I couldn’t wait to play with it. It ended up jumping up and licking me, but it didn’t seem like that was going to happen until it did–dog looked MEAN!

    Another time I was just about to get on the bridle path when I encountered a lady with 3, yes THREE, giant rotties off leash. I nicely asked her to leash them so I could pass. She said they were friendly. I told her they made me nervous and asked her again. She refused and got snippy with me. I ended up going on the road instead steaming. Come on!

    And then during my last pregnancy I was running along on the trails. I saw a man way up ahead with a dog and way up ahead I saw another dog I thought was with someone else. As I got closer I could see the closer dog was a lab looking thing, but the other dog appeared to be a pit bull looking thing. Then I realized neither was on a leash and both were with this guy and just as I was realizing that they both turned and charged at me. PIT BULL charging at pregnant lady. PIT BULL! I seriously almost peed my pants. I was so scared. Petrified. The guys telling me they’re friendly. FU DUDE! I wanted to scream at this man, but I didn’t want to freak out the dogs and make them mad so I tried to stand their calm–with my side facing them. They ended up just circling around me but it was one of the scariest moments of my life. I stood their in shock and fear until that A-hole was out of site. I was sobbing standing there. I sobbed for the 2 miles back to my car. I hope that illegal walk without a leash was worth it.

    Lastly, my thoughts. And I don’t mean to offend anyone, but this is an issue that really bothers me. If you want to be all Teddy Roosevelt on your big nature adventure with your dog you either need to make friends with a private owner of many acres who doesn’t care what you do, get your own land or modify your fantasy a bit and put scruffy on a leash. It’s not fair to the dog (who can run off into harms way and couldn’t care less if he’s on a leash or not) or all other people at the park who must modify their rule-following behavior so you can violate the rules. That’s just not fair in my mind.

    1. Love the last paragraph….you said what I was too timid to say! Ha. But it’s true. I understand treating them like a member of the family but there’s a way to do it that doesn’t come across as selfish, spoiling, or irresponsible.

  4. Word. And I would go one step further and say that those 20 foot extendable leashed are not appropriate leashes, especially if the dog’s companion person is on the phone. I have come very close to being bitten by dogs on long leashes, in part because their owners were not paying attention. The 20 foot leashes give people a false sense of security, but 20 feet is more than enough room to allow a dog to bite, chase, or get hit by a car. Be careful out there people!

    1. Good point. Or take a class or two on how to walk/control a dog on a leash. Caesar Milan would agree. Dogs like structure and discipline (pack mentality). It keeps them calm and likely, in control.

    2. Oh my goodness, yes. One of our neighbors has a huge dog that she likes to walk on that type of leash while both chatting and drinking. It has led to a couple of close encounters with my pup!

      1. Ditto to those retractable leashes! I give dogs on those leashes a wide berth (moving into the street or even crossing the road if possible), but I’ve had several who ran towards me, nearly wrapping their leash around my legs. Each time the owner was texting (and oblivious to the dog) and didn’t realize what was going on until it was far too late for them to do anything helpful. In complete contrast, there’s one owner in my neighborhood who always keeps his dog on a (non-retractable) leash and makes the dog sit until I pass. I always smile and say thanks. If I could only get him to give dog-walking etiquette classes to the rest!

  5. I too have had my share of run ins with dogs while running. I actually had a Weimaraner completely bum rush me a couple years ago. It just rammed straight into my legs. Crazy. I’ve also had many non-ferocious dogs run after me down the street and I ultimately have to stop and walk the dog back to its owner so it didn’t run for miles. It is annoying and it has happened more times than I can count.

    All of this said, if a dog does run at you in an aggressive manner, it is important to stop running. If you keep running, it will take your action as a sign of aggressiveness. So stop. Look directly at the dog and sternly say “no.” This typically works and staves off biting/attack.

    1. Definitely an important point to not keep running! I slowed down when I was bit, learning that lesson the hard way. I even heard to stop, make weird and obnoxious sounds and stomp the ground. Haven’t had to try that one yet!

      1. I have had to stop and yell no at a dog. One time it was crazy scary because we had a bit of a stare down and the dog looked like it wanted to kill me. Finally I started slowly walking away and didn’t start running again until it lost interest and turned around. Those few seconds/minutes felt like an eternity!

  6. great post!!! i’ve experienced all of that, aside from actual bites so far (knock on wood).i

    also wanted to add — even if a dog is truly not harmful, even a too-close enounter can be dangerous. i sometimes worry about someone i know who has poor balance due to hearing loss and osteopenia. 🙁 then also there are the cases of leashed dogs on looooooong leashes who are trip hazards.

  7. I agree with everything already said. Personally, I am terrified of all dogs whether I’m running or not. I can appreciate that the dog-owners know their pets well and love them dearly, but it needs to be understood by the owners that other people (especially runners) do not love your dog. When we see a dog charging at us barking we see a ferocious and scary animal, not a lovable pet looking to play. Like many of you, I have been attacked a number of times by dogs. When this happens I’ve stopped running and stood very still with my heart racing and my mind terrified. I’ve been circled and scratched (thankfully never bitten), my heart rate skyrockets, and I usually sob after the encounter is over. Each time the owners have LAUGHED at me and told me that their pet is friendly and won’t hurt me! I respect your right to like dogs, please respect my right to be scared of them. Just because a dog is friendly most of the time does not mean that it cannot be set off my something (a runner, perhaps) and turn vicious.

    I’m all for pet owners walking their dogs and getting exercise for themselves and their furry friends, but please keep your dog on a leash and when you see a runner or walker approaching, shorten the leash and pull your dog close so we can pass with safety.

    1. Thanks for sharing Rachel. Sounds like you have had some scary experiences. I get the same responses from owners when their dogs get jumpy or even nasty. When I don’t laugh back, then they come back with an attitude.

    2. I understand exactly what you feel, Rachel. When my daughter was an infant, I went for a run with her in the stroller around my neighborhood. A huge black dog came out of nowhere, rushed us and stuck it’s head into the stroller and tried to bite my baby. I fought the dog off screaming at the top of my lungs. Thank god, a woman came running out of her house with her Great Dane and ran the other dog off. I was lucky to get away with some bad scratches. The owner of the black dog claimed it wasn’t his fault because he didn’t know his dog would run away from his yard. After a visit with animal control, it turns out this dog had already attacked multiple people and was supposed to be confined in the back yard. I have never recovered from this incident and it was 14 years ago. I can’t ever trust an unleashed dog again. Dog owners need to understand that not everyone has had positive experiences with dogs and be considerate of others by controlling their animals when in public.

  8. Yep, great post. Gotta keep the dogs on leashes in public! People with dogs off leashes could be fined more regularly and that money could be given to help at animal shelters. Win-win?

    1. Great idea! I do know the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was cracking down a few months ago because of coyotes. Many owners fail to realize that it’s not just for our safety but their dog too!

  9. I am so glad to see this addressed! I love dogs (my Heeler is basically my child), but I hate when they have irresponsible owners. I have severely cut back on one of my regular weekend routes because of the numerous dogs in the area who come barreling out of the yards. In fact, one of my friends was attacked by a pitbull along the route and ended up having to get a boatload of stitches about 2 weeks before her first marathon.

    One thing that hasn’t been covered here is what happens when I am running with my dog on a leash and we encounter an unleashed dog. Mixing leashed and unleashed dogs creates tension, obviously, and can be a scary situation!

    1. Great point! I’m sure mixing the two probably creates even more tension than if it were just unleashed dog and running human.

  10. Great comment thread. I’m a dog owner and ultra trail runner and I do run my dog on the trails very often. As always, the main problem here is bad owners. I put a lot of time and energy into training my dog to specifically run trails, ultra distances, and help pace me. I’m horrified to hear some of these bad dog owner stories.

    Fear of dogs is a very real thing. When I train and run off-leash, I will specifically seek out extremely remote trails and times of day when I know nobody else will be around. More for the sake of others than for her. If we do come across someone, I will pull my dog well off the trail, and we both stop and sit until people have passed, even though she has zero history of lunging.

    I keep a sharp eye out and always see other animals/bikes/runners/hikers before they see us. And we are out of the way before we are spotted. My dog always ignores other humans and never jumps up, but that’s not the point. The point is that I want anyone else enjoying the trail to be just as comfortable as my dog is. How are they supposed to know from a few yards away that my dog is well-trained and friendly? If I’m in a more public place like a park, I always keep her on leash.

    I also want to mention that the Born to Run ultra marathon is an amazing, dog-friendly race. My dog ran the 50K trail with me off-leash (allowed and encouraged), and it was one of our best race experiences ever. If you have a dog, please do take the time to train it and watch it closely, whether they are leashed or not. Dogs are still animals and act on instinct. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us who are responsible owners and don’t be a selfish prick.

    1. Thanks for the input, Vanessa! I do think there is a place for unleashed dogs and certainly some cities and states are way better at controlling and allowing for it. That race sounds so neat!

  11. As not only a runner and cyclist, but just as a person on public property, I feel like dog owners who allow their pets to be on leashes that are too long, or not on leashes at all, are essentially creating an unsafe situation that can have dire consequences for the unarmed. Therefore, on all my runs and rides, I am NOT unarmed. I carry pepper spray specifically designed for dogs (works on the human kind as well), and I’ve actually used it on a dog once.

    During my “experience”, the dog stopped, then immediately turned an ran back home. I was on an “out and back” route, and when I ran by the second time the dog just sat in his yard looking at me and didn’t move. In other words, I know from experience that this stuff works, and is cheap (about $15). It provides multiple, 10 – 15 foot streams of fluid, so it won’t blow back in your face.

    On another “occasion”, the little dog ran out at me with the owner telling me it wouldn’t bite. I pulled the spray out, and told the man that he could either get the dog back quickly, or I would pepper spray it.

    I personally don’t care if they are “offended” or not…I didn’t start the encounter, and they are in the wrong. Just sayin’

    1. My boyfriend is just as defensive as well with some of the neighborhood dogs but we’ll have to look into that spray. One time he had to throw a newspaper that was lying nearby toward the dog because it was appearing quite aggressive and growling. The owner saw this and told him to “F-off.”- speaking for the dog I’m sure. But the point is, the dog was in the street, unleashed in a residential neighborhood! I think it’s fair game when the owner is being irresponsible!

  12. I am a dog owner who runs with my dog regularly. I know I’m late in posting this, but this is a topic I am extremely opinionated on. My dog is sweet and wonderful and is well behaved. I still keep him on a 6 ft. leash, and keep him close to me while we run. Despite this fact, other dog owners seem to think it’s ok to let their dogs off leash or on such a long leash that they can lunge at my dog. He feels very cornered on a leash and reacts defensively. So, please do not assume every dog wants to play with your dog. Keep your dog leashed for their safety and others.

    Oh, and please make sure kids know to ask before they pet a dog. I can’t tell you how many small kids run up to my cute, fluffy dog and hug him. He happens to be great with kids, but is big enough to really hurt them. I’d like to hold him while kids pet him, so he feels secure and safe and the kids do too. (steps off soapbox)

  13. This post is very informative and well thought of.I couldn’t agree more with this post that a dog should be on a leash, especially when you take him for a walk. No matter how cure your dog is, he could bite other animals and humans if he is afraid. As pet owners, it is our responsibility to take time to learn how to use a leash because dogs are not humans. It could set them off if they see people running behind or in front of them.

  14. I read this post looking for info on “how to prevent my dog from chasing runners and bikers” as i had a horrible incident today in the park. I live near a park where dogs are welcome off leash before 10AM every morning. Most people are aware that it’s “dog time” before 10. I have a 5 month old lab X puppy. He is shy of people he doesn’t know and has a thing for chasing runners, bikers, scooters, pretty much anything with two wheels or runs. He never bites, he wants to play-seriously. He jumps up at the runners hands as i think he is looking for treats but i can see how this would not go over well with some people. This woman running in the park this morning, ran by my dog and he chased her, jumping up to see what was in her hands. Of course i tried calling him away but he kept following her. The woman screamed at the top of her lungs, turned around yelling at me, i mean yelling “if you can’t control your dog put that damn thing on a leash!!”. OK I get that she didn’t like the jumping but hey “seriously?!” You want me to have park manners, how about runners etiquette around dogs? If you are a runner, maybe there’s somethings you need to learn as well. If a dog starts chasing you-STOP RUNNING! Let him sniff you and he’ll likely forget about you and move on. And hey DON’T RUN during OFF LEASH hours! Why do runner’s think the parks belong to them? Dogs are not prisoners to be kept on a chain their whole life. It’s ironic that you enjoy running but think dogs should not have that freedom…? It needs to be expelled somehow. My dog was not going to bite her, he did want to play but i get that his behaviour is not acceptable and we will try and work on that but just like a child who is learning, so is a puppy. I found her behaviour just as unacceptable as my dogs; considering we were off leash during our designated times and she decided to run during dog hours. In my opinion, runners need proper etiquette just as much as dogs do and you need to coexist as the parks are for everyone, and everyone should have proper manners; not just dogs

    1. Hi Tara, I wanted to respond with the perspective of both a dog owner and a runner. It sounds like your puppy is sweet and was just playing, but that was not evident to the runner. Did you say anything to her, like, “Hey, he is friendly”? My dog is friendly but has a loud, distinctive bark, which freaks some people out. So, I see where you are coming from and totally sympathize.

      I can also see from her point of view how if a dog is chasing you, jumping, and not coming back when it’s owner is calling it, then that would be a pretty scary situation. If it is a public park, well, yes, the park does belong to her too. She may have not been familiar with the “dog hours” rule if it was not a part of her regular route, or maybe thought it would be empty. Obviously I can only speculate on that part. But I do understand why she reacted the way she did. Even as a dog lover, if I see a dog I do not know loose on a run, I take a wide berth, as I never know how it will react or how responsive its owner will be.

      1. I can’t imagine the dog hour rules were put in place with the idea that off leash dogs can have total 100% freedom to do whatever to whomever they want. I don’t think a puppy with known behavior issues should be off leash in a public park no matter what the rules (for the safety of others and for the dog’s own safety), personally and I think I would have been equally annoyed as the runner Tara encountered. Someone’s dog can have total freedom on her private property, but not in a public park even during off-leash hours. At least that’s my opinion.

    2. I wouldn’t allow my (hypothetical) child approach and jump on or in front of people. And a child can communicate and follow commands. Dogs may or may not have those capabilities and generally have a much higher capacity to injure someone. It sounds like your dog does not follow instructions consistently. That would be a huge warning sign to me!

      It’s not just those dogs that actually bite or scratch that can cause damage. I think about my mother who has low bone density. Just being tripped by a dog underfoot (or an overly long leash…) could have terrible health consequences.

      Off-leash hours or location or not, dogs need to be able to follow commands and not approach strange humans or other dogs. I would think it would be a safety concern for the dog as well!

    3. Yes. If a runner is chased by a dog, the runner should wait to see if the dog actually bites. If it does, THEN it’s OK to take defensive action! Really?????

    4. Sorry I kind of agree with the runner, in general if you can’t keep you dog from jumping on people don’t let them off leash. Of course she should not have run during dog free hours (she has to expect that). Aside from the fear factor, and the fact that even though a dog has never bitten it still can, I AM ALLERGIC to DOGS. So assuming everyone is OK with a dog coming up for a pet or play is not true.

  15. I have to admit to being guilty of letting my dog off the leash in places it’s not allowed. My reasoning behind it isn’t that I can’t control him or that he’s not getting enough exercise because he does and most of it is on his leash. I let him off in two instances one is water. We live really close to Lake Washington and he loves to swim but technically he’s supposed to be on his leash (also want to add there’s a dog park up north on the same lake that allows dogs to go swimming in the exact same body of water so it’s not a contamination issue). I normally find a secluded spot along the trail and throw his ball for him. The other instance is on trails when they are not busy. This is again because he had so much fun and stays close by. It’s hard having a dog in a big city and yes we have a decent yard and again run and walk him a lot but its not the same as when he gets to be loose on a trail. I think maybe there need to be dog friendly trails or something like that so that people who don’t want to deal with dogs don’t have to but dogs can still have some fun

  16. I couldn’t agree with you more. I am a dog owner and every word you wrote is the truth. Even when I am simply out walking my own dog (on a leash, of course) the same thing happens to me every single time. We slow when we see another dog, unsure if there is an invisible fence or if the dog is as nice as we are being lead to believe, and it comes at us.

    I am very observant during “walkies” so that if I see a runner or another walker (especially children) I move out of the way. These people shouldn’t have to wonder if it is ok to pass by me and my dog. I’m the one with the potentially dangerous variable (the dog) so I should be the party to move out of the way.

    I have a responsibility to keep my dog from antagonizing runners, walkers, and other dogs in the area and I assumed this unwritten rule, this form of etiquette, was universally known, but it appears not to be. So thank you for putting it out there. Running can be dangerous enough without having to worry about every Fido you pass.

    I would also add, that we dog owners need to be cleaning up after our pets too. Nothing worse than realizing you’ve run through something!

  17. Here here! I couldn’t agree more with this post. I too am a huge dog lover, but in the past month or so have had my share of encounters at a park where the leash is REQUIRED. Nevertheless, I’ve had to engage in a game of chicken with a Westie who decided the trail was his and “none shall pass!” He nipped at my leg, and I politely asked the owner to put him on his leash. She apologized and did right away. When I saw her again coming back, she apologized again and thanked me. Overall, a good response. Then a couple weeks later as I was winding up a very discouraging and difficult tempo run, and FINALLY hitting the zone in the last mile, a BIG black dog came bounding up to me out of what felt like nowhere. I didn’t see his owner at first. I slowed down, then stopped, and as I did, he bounded off to the side and past me. I turned back to the owner and said “he really should be on a leash.” I turned off my music as I said it, and the guy turned around and shouted “She’s 7 years old and she’s never bitten anyone, so just CHILL!”. I was completely taken aback, so I said something to the effect of he must be having a bad day….and then he screamed back at me “I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE!”…..as he and his off-leash dog continued to walk away. I was so piping mad–not at the friendly dog but at his very mean head-biting-off owner. Not just for ruining my tempo run….but for the complete lack of courtesy and civility.

    Anyway, YES, when I go somewhere where there is a leash law and ANY chance of encountering another person/runner/biker, I always keep my (very friendly and well-trained) dog on a leash. And I just wish people would do the same!

  18. One of houses in the neighborhood has two dogs that always scare me when the house door is left open and the dogs go unleashed to the yard. As I run by this house in the neighborhood, the dogs would bark and chase me which always scares me to death. I have been bitten in other occasions before and thus have always complained to the dogs owner to keep the dogs indoors or on a leash. However the reality is that from time to time the dogs are left unleashed in the yard and they keep on scaring me if I run by the house. These dogs have not bitten me yet but I was thinking in formalizing a complain to the owner who does not seem to be very concerned with this situation. Therefore I would appreciate any suggestions on what my options are to formalize a complain in an attempt to make the dogs owner more sensitive to a runner perspective.

  19. I know this is an old post, but here’s an idea:

    Runners, share the sidewalk. If I have my dog leashed with my back to you while a car is running next to me and having a conversation, I cant hear you. If my dog reacts because you run right at us, you’re at fault… not the dog. If you go get a tetanus shot even though you only got a surface cut, and then have an allergic reaction to that tetanus shot (2 visits), don’t hit me up for your co-pays and the shot.

    Have some common sense, and stay the hell away from people and their pets. You are a threat, not the victim in this case.

    1. yes but I did give this one guy with a dog a wide berth and slowed to a walk. He looked at me and LET his dog jump right at me to the full length of the leash. If that dog pulled lose I’d be dead (it was a big dog). Many times there is no issue, and I’ve seen plenty of other dog owner know how to hold dogs close on a leash if they suspect trouble. Coming up behind a dog I would not do – I go around.

  20. I know this post was some time back, but since it’s still available, I know more people will be reading it, and possibly reading/adding to comments as well.
    I am both a runner, and dog walker/owner.
    I know I’m not the only one to have this perspective, but I will just share my personal experiences with you all.
    Even though we have a bit of land for our pups to roam, I still like to take our doggies out several times a day for a walk.
    There doesn’t seem to be a REAL etiquette guide out there for runners/dog walkers to follow, so basically it comes down to what an individual person has learned.
    When I run, I always, always keep my eyes wide open. This time of year especially, (June ) we have fresh new drivers out there, (kids gettin’ those permits!) and though I don’t run in the street or anything, I sometimes worry about these same kids stopping at all the appropriate times. In conjunction with always looking out, I follow my own rules. If I round a corner and notice people, I run around them. If I notice someone with a dog, I either leave wide berth to go around them, or I simply go to the other side, to the sidewalk across the street. Some people will say “why should I have to do that? I can run where I want to!” All I’m saying is it is a personal decision I make. Others can make their own decisions on how they handle situations.
    **As a dog walker** – My dog tends to get overly excited when he sees someone coming in our direction. I know my dog, I know how he acts kinda cray cray, so I follow my own rules here as well:
    If I round a corner and see someone *already* on the sidewalk, I usually try to just cross to the other side. No, I don’t have to, but I do it. As I said before, I know my dog. I know how he can get so excited, and even though I can walk him wherever I want, I CHOOSE to be mindful of others, and I choose to make sure other people are completely comfortable doing their own thing.
    Being on both sides of this crazy coin, this is what I would like to have happen.
    My main (really only ) issue is when I’m walking my dog, and a runner has rounded the corner and is coming up BEHIND me. Ugh…that’s the worst! It’s one thing to see someone coming and to be able to prepare, but when someone all-of-a-sudden is RIGHT behind me with no warning, no wonder my dog goes nuts. Heck, it makes me jump too. I just wish others in our running community were as aware. Even a very well behaved dog would be startled when someone is running up on their owner.
    Anyway, just my 2 cents. Take it or leave it. Just my perspective as both runner and dog walker.
    Thanks !!

  21. YES totally had it happen to me on numerous times as I like to run on trails. So many times running with rocks in my hand, etc. Never been bitten yet but the last owner with a ferocious black dog on a leash LET THE DOG jump towards me and I had to jump out of the way as it tried to bite me (twice). It was very scary, so obviously being on a leash is not enough if the owner does not know how to control a dog on a leash.