Dogs off leads and walking

by Rescued Dog Walker, Lancashire

Hello, re the previous e-mails & various opinions about dogs being off the lead in open countryside - those who have never owned a problem dog are unlikely to understand fully when they think they have a right to let their dogs run about uncontrolled up to other people.

I have a rescued border collie who does not like other dogs. I keep him on a lead I can reel in at all times.

It is very stressful out walking when countless owners of mostly large dogs let their dogs run up to mine - even after I shout a warning to keep their dog away, they seem unable to command control of their dog.

Which means when my dog snarls and snaps towards the other dog, quite often the other dog then leaps in to attack back- this is very dangerous for me holding the lead.

I have in the past muzzled my dog, but all that happened then when other dogs come running up, and he leaps towards them, he gets bitten and cant defend himself.

I have been quite nervous when very large dogs that the owners say 'dont worry he's friendly' come over.

Any dog may not be friendly to another aggressive dog. I now carry a walking pole I am so sick of this, any dog that causes problems will get a taste of the pole (or maybe that should be the owner?).

Dog owners need to be aware of the law if a dog is 'at large' off the lead anywhere and causes injury to one on the lead or a person, the owner of the roaming dog is breaking the law.

Unfortunately it would not be easy to find out who they were or to prove it and some of these owners can be quite aggressive themselves after some of these incidents.

If you let your dog off the lead, it should be trained very highly to obey the owner, if not then should be on a lead.

Dog owners are required to keep dogs under effective control at all times. For the avoidance on doubt, The Countryside Code on the Natural England website is quite explicit about what is defined by the phrase 'Keep dogs under effective control'.

It says:

Keep dogs under effective control

When you take your dog into the outdoors, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you:

Special dog rules may apply in particular situations, so always look out for local signs - for example:

It's always good practice (and a legal requirement on 'Open Access' land) to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog's owner.

However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead - don't risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.

Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly - 'bag it and bin it'. Make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people.

Hope this helps . . .

Mike (Editor)

“I have had a horrible experience when walking my small female dog who is 9 months old. If I see a person or dog with owner I will put my dog on the lead so as not to bother them I think this is the responsible thing to do. When walking in nearby fields I met a group of people who had two dogs one on lead and one off. The off lead dog came rushing at my dog who was on her lead and kept going at her. The owner continued their conversation despite me asking for the dog to be recalled. I ended up trying to grab the dog to stop his constant going at my dog and had to pick her up to get her out of the way. The dog owner did not offer an apology just saying he had not done anything wrong. This behaviour spoils walks for the majority of responsible dog owners.”

Joanna Cain, York

“I can empathize with all of you who have had difficulties when out on a walk with your dog. I have taken on in the past un-rehomeable dogs who reacted to everything. It must be so frustrating for you and can affect your walks as you start to dread going out for walks and of course your dog picks up your emotions and can become anxious too. In some cases the distress becomes too much for the owner who then doesn't want to take their dog out any more so they start to feel frustrated that their dog is missing out. Being anxious around a fearful dog just heightens the dog's emotions making the dog more defensive as our dogs are directly affected by our emotions.

There are those who see that having the dog off the lead is important for their time out with their dog. There is nothing wrong with this but it is not essential to have the dog off lead. Dogs get muscles from walking and from going up and down lanes or hills. I adopted a CollieX who spent nearly four years in rescue, her muscles were wasted. She was never off lead outside the home and has great muscles on her legs even at over 13 years old. She runs freely in the garden at other times. Consideration should be given to those who can't let their dogs off lead. My GSD is on a longline for every walk that we are out on and he learnt recall to come back on the longline if there was a car approaching.

No dog should be off lead unless they are 100% good at recall, breed specifics will play a part in this as certain breeds do need to stay on a lead.

Reactivity is not dealt with by just obedience training or telling the dog 'no' when they react. The dog behaves in the way they do as they see it as an appropriate response for the situation even if there is no real danger there. It worked before for them so they use it again , their behaviour is reinforced. Many see the dog lunging on the lead to other dogs that they are wanting to say 'hello' but it could be that the dog who is lunging is trying to get the dog who is off lead to move away. Dogs have their own bubble that they have created around themselves, just imagine this as a large circle. As soon as another dog or person crosses the boundary and continues to approach the nervous dog , the dog on the lead is going to react. Being on a lead they are unable to flee so resort to defense behaviour of using aggression if the other dog is within reach. A dog without a bubble is one who is confident and able to approach anyone or any dog with curiosity and without fear. Some say that the dog should be let off the lead anyway as this will prevent the lunging, but if another dog has approached into the fearful dog's space then it could end in a fight. To suggest that this is part of life with dogs is really setting one or both of the dogs for possible future failures when meeting other dogs. This should be avoided at all costs , as a fight can cause trauma to the fearful dog and even develop into a phobia of all dogs. For the confident dog who has ambled over he or she might now have a fear of this particular type of dog, coat colour, breed.

I work with category dogs in a dog rescue as a volunteer, over the years I have worked with many dogs who have been reactive on the lead. There is no breed stereotyping as there have been dogs of many different breeds who can be reactive. The plasticity of the brain enables us or our dogs to learn new behaviour, it can be changed from the unwanted lunging on the lead to walking calmly past another dog. This is done by counter-conditioning and desensitization. I don't think some owners with dogs off lead understand fully the nervous dog on the lead.

Puppies socialize with each other in the litter to gain social skills for their future life and of course their mother. There are so many things they should be exposed to in the first 3 months of their lives. There is another fear period at six months and also suggested another one around the 1 year mark. A puppy removed from the litter at weeks old will miss out and will be fearful as an adult. Experiences that the puppy has are stored in their memory and people think that if the puppy has not experienced anything then there is nothing to be afraid off. This is not true, as when the dog finds themselves in a situation they look into their stored memory to 'replay' responses , if there is no memory , then they act with fear as they look for a survival method. Not to mention should they have been attacked or suffered a trauma then this will also be responded to in a fearful way.

If owners with dogs always off lead could realise it is not just a case of taking the dog to a dog class or believing that the owner of the dog on the lead is always to blame for their dog's response. Any owner who realises they have a dog that reacts and keeps their dog on a lead to me is a responsible owner. There is help for those owners with reactive dogs, a professional can change the way that the dog responds , there are also reflector coats that you can get with 'I need space' on.

All dog owners have the same thing in common, exercising and having fun with their dogs when out. It would be nice that those owners with their dogs off lead are able realise the dog on the lead is so for a reason and help this owner and dog by calling their dog back , just for a few minutes so the nervous dog can move forward on their walk and out of view for your dog to be free to run around again.”

Caroline Wegner, Limousin

“I am convinced that dogs have an ability to detect the dog walkers concern and fear when approaching another dog either on or off the lead(especially if they on a lead) if and when the dog detects this fear it then reacts to protect its owner/dog walker. This is demonstrated when on an open dog park or field where you can see many assorted breeds running around in groups chasing and playing with no problems So a timid or nervous owner/walker can unknowingly create a defensive or aggressive situation. All dogs are innately pack animals and will defend the leader i.e the owner without reservation.”

Cliff Johnson, Loughborough

“Ive been reading through a lot of these posts (which are for the most part personal opinions)

The main thing to be aware of is The Law regarding controlling your dog in public. If people abide by the law then there is no argument and everyone is happy....unless you are a habitual law breaker.

(Ive copy pasted the details directly from the website)


It's against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, such as:

The law applies to all dogs.

Some types of dogs are banned.

Out of control

Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:
  • injures someone
  • makes someone worried that it might injure them

A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if either of the following apply:
  • it attacks someone's animal
  • the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal

A farmer is allowed to kill your dog if it's worrying their livestock.


You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) if your dog is dangerously out of control. You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.

If you let your dog injure someone you can be sent to prison for up to 5 years or fined (or both). If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with 'malicious wounding'.

If you allow your dog to kill someone you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years or get an unlimited fine (or both).

If you allow your dog to injure an assistance dog (eg a guide dog) you can be sent to prison for up to 3 years or fined (or both).


Keep control of your dog and avoid having it put down, or going to prison and being fined (or both)”

Theresa , Surrey

“This is yet another update re a dog which is ON a lead. On my daily walks, I encounter this person who has a Labrador. This dog appears to recognise me, and when I first saw this particular dog owner, I just tried my best to ignore the dog's behaviour; but what happens is, every time I encounter this dog owner and dog, this dog, although it is on a lead, jumps up at me, and its owner makes no effort whatsoever to restrain it. I have even tried swerving out of the way, but still the dog's owner makes no effort to bring the dog under control. When I went for my walk earlier today, I encountered this person, and again, the dog jumped up, and all this person could say was 'sorry'. I am really terrified of walking past this dog owner and dog. I am thinking of having a polite word with this person and taking it further if this does not stop. I must add I see people walking their dogs every day, but it is just this particular dog owner and dog this happens with.”

Patricia Seaborne, Laindon

“To the comments made by one person on here, that if you have an aggressive dog it should be walked elsewhere or put down!!! I would like to educate you.

I have a medium sized dog, who never had issues but kept getting attacked suddenly by off lead dogs whose owners said there dog was friendly, and indeed these dogs were normally friendly. Turned out my dog had a disease which other dogs could smell or sense so they would approach him sniff and then sometimes not all the time would growl or attack, This changed my dog and made him defensive when off lead dogs approached him, so he was and is always kept on a lead, and now I have to shout out to people "my dogs not good ETC" as he also has a cataract and cannot see things coming.

Should I put my dog down through no fault of his own for being ill and partially blind? no I shouldnt, should i walk my dog to convenience others where they are no other dogs off lead ? tried that and guess what even walking along the streets idiots think its ok to have dogs off lead, so there really is no where that i can walk without bumping into people with dogs offlead, I have had 6 years of avoiding issues and keeping my dog safe and well, and its bloody hard work, Most people are understanding when I shout ahead "my dogs ill and not good" but a small minority are of the opinion that because their dog is ok, it my problem . Well its not just my problem should your dog attack mine or cause a fight whilst i have my dog attached to me via a walking belt or alike and me or my godson get hurt or knocked over you are responsible as my dog is on lead, No dog can allways be trusted sometimes dogs have off days or may be in pain etc etc, so to all those who are lucky to have dogs which have no issues and are good with recall etc, Please please spare a thought for people whos dogs are ill, or rescued or scared if there on a lead and someone forewarns you, there not doing it to deliberatly inconvience you they are dog lovers to and are trying to protect their pet, as you would any other member of your familly, And you never know one day it may be you whose dog has changed or become ill and scared and your be in that position having to protect your Furbaby!!!. Ultimatly if we are all dog lovers we would never want to see a dog stressed and scared.”

Katherine Kelly, Kent Uk

“I agree and totally understand the main top post here...BUT to the dog owners of the reactive dogs on a is your responsibility to let other dog owners realise your dog needs space! the majority of dogs on leads need and want to socialise...they are purely on a lead due to poor to let others know the score...get a yellow ribbon or yellow luminous vest on the dog...this is clearly visible from a distance and dog owners have the chance to recall their dog or keep their distance or change direction....ALSO, a lot of people say these don't work as a lot of people are not aware of it...well they are not aware of it as dog owners that should use them don't! common sense to me”

Di Pietro

“I have a young lurcher who is learning recall. He is totally non aggressive, has lots of doggy friends who he regularly runs around with. However, I have just been absolutely ripped apart by a man with a jack Russell, in our local field, who screamed at me to control my dog, because mine ran towards her (to play) If you have a nervous dog, it is in that dog's best interests not to be walked where others have their dogs off the lead. It is unfair to lambast a dog owner for having a sociable dog, when yours is not. I am very upset, but this will not stop me from letting my dog run around, especially when there are other dogs off the lead.”

Linda Williams, Towcester

“Reason for letting dogs off leads? Quite simply that the land which the dog owner owns is too small for their dog to run around in. You never see a farmer take his dog out for a walk in the hills because he has plenty of room for the dog to run around. So by default, by buying a dog that needs so much exercise (2 hours per day) that is cruelty by keeping it 'in' all day. I do a lot of trail running. I have been attacked 8 times and intimidated more than 50. And on each occasion it 'must have been my fault for frightening the dog' I wonder what dog owners would say if their daughters were being intimidated by youths each night whilst coming home from going out? Oh, it's ok, the youths are normally friendly they don't mean any harm. Sure you would want the youths removing from the area. Stop being selfish and start considering others. Stop expecting others to move for you.”

John Wealthy, Preston

“I think it would be helpful for landowners, who allow dog access, to clarify their dog policies, and not just issue bland statements like dogs need to be controlled at all times. We are not talking about aggressive dogs here, or the risk of injury to other dogs or people, that risk need not be stated. Obviously that risk is not acceptable. But, what about low risk or mutually culpable scenarios? I have two rehomed dogs, a Beagle X, who suffers separation anxiety, which helps him to remain close to me when off lead, and after several months training, has good recall anyway. He occasionally approaches other dogs to instigate play, but rarely does so. I now also have a rehomed 11month old Whippet/Collie X (i.e. a Lurcher). Very playful, very poor off lead, rushes up to play with other dogs. Training on recall is ongoing, and working fairly well now. Some dog owners are happy for dog play, others become agitated, or aggressive. My opinion is that if walking your dog(s) off lead in a public access area, then you run the risk of your dog(s) meeting other dogs off lead, who want to play. So what is reasonable behaviour on the part of both dog owners? What is unreasonable behaviour? Is it reasonable for one owner to tell the other owner to keep their dog under control and put it on a lead? Hey, it takes two dogs to play, the second owner should also tell the first owner to keep their dog under control and on a lead. I call that a mutually culpable situation, neither one party is specifically to blame for what one or both parties may consider unwanted dog interaction. Perhaps both are? Such meetings, which I have experienced, can lead to heated verbal exchanges instigated by the other party who doesn't want their dogs to play with other dogs. Is it reasonable for a dog walker, with their dog off lead, to expect the off-lead dogs of other owners to automatically avoid their dogs? I think it is an unrealistic expectation on their part. A bit like going to the pub and expecting to not meet any people drinking alcohol and talking to you? If you don't want human interaction, don't go to the pub! Or like taking your kids to a public play area, and getting agitated and aggressive with the parents of other kids, who allow their kids to play with yours! If you don't want kids to play with your own kids, don't take them to a public play park! But, it all goes back to my original statement, I think landowners who allow dog access (e.g. the FC, Woodland Trust, National Trust, local authorities etc), could help by having dog policies, that cover the rights and safety of all, but not encourage unrealistic expectations to keep off lead dogs away from your own dog when your own dog is also off lead! If such a policy were to state, that if the first dog owner, whilst walking their dog off lead, requests politely for the owner of another dog also off lead, to also recall their dog, providing it is mutually conducted, that might be fair and realistic. But to expect the other owner to unilaterally recall their dog, whilst the first owner does nothing, that is unrealistic. We run the risk of having to keep dogs on lead all the time, to satisfy dog owners who want their dogs to avoid other dogs!”

Garin Linnington, Bodmin

“This is an update on an earlier post. Yesterday, whilst I was out walking (I am not a dog owner), someone whose beagle was off-lead came bounding towards me. After I had dodged the dog by turning a corner into a side road, I heard the owner shout 'Come here!' I turned around to check that both dog and its owner were not still following me. Very annoying! Just wish something could be done about these irresponsible owners! What is wrong with people? Yes I do agree that dogs need to have a run around in parks, etc., but just wish some irresponsible people would just think of others when walking their dogs in the street. Just to say that I have come across some very good, considerate dog owners, who are very mindful of others, so there you are - it can be done!”

Patricia , Laindon

“I am not a dog owner myself, but, for health reasons, I have to walk daily and I must say, the majority of dog owners are very responsible and I am no expert but I do believe dogs can be let off the lead only if there is a high level of trust between a dog owner and pet, and, of course, when it is safe to do so. What irritates me the most is, when I am out walking, sometimes, some dog owners appear to think everyone likes dogs because they do and then let their pet jump up at me, which I cannot stand! I am a very nervous person, and I know dogs can sense this, but where the majority of dog owners are extremely aware of others' feelings, it is the lack of actions of the irresponsible few that annoys me the most.”

Patricia Seaborne, Basildon

“Hello, after reading the other emails I felt that I needed to comment on dogs being off the lead. I myself have owned a variety of dogs in the past some of these have been rescued. I used to think that dogs are better of the lead when meeting each other until I rescued a border terrier. I was told that she had been attacked in the past by two lurchers and on another occassion by a different dog. I have had a lot of experience with handling dogs and thought we would be able to work through this. I have now owned her for six years and have tried everything, I have even seeked other professional help with little results. When walking her I always have her on a lead when other dogs are around, but there are a number of dog owners who allow their dog to run over and always say its ok he is very friendly. The problem is my dog isn't and I have now become one of those owners who gets very concerned when another dog comes over. The reason being our dog does not bark, growl or show any signs of what she will do sometimes she lunges and will not let go this I know sounds horrific!! I used to muzzle her but she was attacked countless times and unable to protect herself. We believe she is fearful of other dogs who can blame her. What I would like to say anybody who sees a dog on the lead please please keep your dog away, as there is usually a reason why it is on the lead, not all dogs can cope with another dog bounding towards them.”

Lisa Haynes, Leicestershire

“What it comes down to are a few simple considerations: No owner/dog should be forced into interacting with another's dog/owner. I do not wish to trouble strangers, how's about you extend the same courtesy and not trouble me. A public area is exactly that. You will come across people of all ages and capabilities. Children who might be frightened of dogs, the elderly who may not be so sprightly on their feet, other walkers who do not wish to be accosted by an over-friendly dog. It is their place to enjoy as much as yours. Be considerate. If you want to exercise your dog off-lead, do it in you garden/designated off-lead dog-area. A rescued, possibly aggressive/fearful dog has every right to a life as any other creature and certainly, if it has been mistreated has a right to be rehabilitated and their owners the right to try and rehabilitate them without having to deal with off-lead dogs. Not everyone has had their dog from a pup and have taken on the task of giving a troubled dog a chance. Why don't you do the same and allow these people/dogs a bit of peace? I do not own a dog and I am not a member of the doggy fan-club yet, as a walker I often get troubled by off-lead dogs. I see no reason why can't keep them near you at all times. Is that not why you got a dog in the first place? Companionship? In the end it's simple. I should not have to talk or otherwise engage with anyone I do not wish to interact with. By having to deal with your pooch you are forcing me, and others into having to engage with you and your dog when we would prefer not to. It's not preference, it's consideration. Be considerate, keep it on a lead.”

Matthew , Bristol

“I agree wholeheartedly that dogs, when in public areas be kept on leads at all times. The idea that someones "friendly" dog won't or can't attack is just the owners ignorance at their own shortcomings. I have a husky/GSD cross and he is 5-6 years old. My wife and I have had him for just under two years and he was a rescue with no previous history available. Yes, it was a big task for us but we have pretty much eliminated all his previous issues except his dislike/fear/hatred of other dogs. Unfortunately, despite living in a very rural location there is two "holiday hot-spots" nearby that, during the holidays, bring many visitors and their dogs. The majority of dogs and owners are fine. We avoid confrontation where possible (often taking detours through the woods) yet some walkers, especially visitors and holiday-makers think it's perfectly acceptable to allow there bouncing bundle of fur to charge 100 yards at my wife, myself and our dog and then continue to berate US when our dog growls and lunges with the most common reactions being "he's just being friendly" or "my dog is under control YOURS isn't" despite the charging dogs blissful ignorance at it's owners call. I myself have had to get involved physically to stop two hounds (one of which almost bit my dog on the nose and was only stopped from doing so by my right foot) attacking my dog and have had numerous altercations with selfish individuals whose only outlook of life is from their own perspective (usually people who see no issue with their dog running hundreds of yards, ignoring their commands and forcing themselves, friendly or otherwise at my dog and myself). We even made some progress toward socialising our dog only to have it ruined days later by two more dogs charging at us and biting my dog whilst their owners were nowhere in sight reverting any good work we had done back to the drawing board. I'm pretty certain that if I charged 100 yards and started touching a complete stranger on the face under the guise of "being friendly" this would be frowned upon yet I have to put up with other people's dogs doing it almost on a daily basis! Like the OP i used to use a muzzle but this exacerbated my dogs inability to defend himself making him harder to handle. I used to like all dogs and would happily stop and make a fuss of most dogs but now I am constantly on guard and have even developed a dislike for any dog I see bounding around without control. Personally, I think any person who's dog is injured when off lead by an on-lead dog should be liable for prosecution. No injury can be sustained if dogs are kept on leads and the prospect of having no legal back-up would make them think twice before forcing complete strangers/dogs (many of whom do not like dogs or value their personal space) to interact with them or their dog.”

James , Wiltshire

“My dog is 7, he is an intact male. The ONLY time he has trouble is with other 'entire' males. although even thats not so often as we watch the dog behaviour and cut it off before anything can happen. The main issue is when lovely puppies reach maturity they then try out their dominance on other dogs. "He's never done that before" the owners say, how old I ask, 18 months they say !!! Or they simply blame the other dog as theirs is a puppy who would harm a fly ! The occasional terriers, and other small dogs, who spend their lives being picked up, slept with, and pampered and think they are the 'boss', and they probably are. Some breeds have very strong pack instincts, huskies , for instance only, and are prone to wanting to take charge, stunning dogs, but need an experienced owner, those blue eyes surely they can do no wrong. what type of dog did you choose and whats its speciality for the breed, it can be important, to what it needs ! My hound has done his puppy socialisation, dog training classes, and even hunting dog classes, where control and obedience is everything. He will 'sit' on command instantly, and even at great distance he will 'sit' on the whistle. He understands left, right, back, sit, down , stay , wait, mostly all by voice/hand commands/whistle. BECAUSE I put the time and effort in. He does get into trouble but is reluctant to 'go for it' because he knows its my job not his. If the other owner does not have control I grab the other dog with my lead, not my hand, and tell my dog to sit. 10 second later probably both dogs have forgotten the whole thing whilst the owners carry it with them like torch for the rest of their lives and whinge on here, put the time in! If your child is scared of dogs train them not to be afraid but cautious. Teach them how to deal with dogs its actually easy ! no eye contact , turn their back on the dog, do not squeal and lift your arms up, thats an invitation for the dog to jump up and the squealing is exciting, there are others things but unless the dog is truly a nasty piece of work , as humans can be, they will walk on especially if the child says NO! Especially if the dog has been taught NO! If your dog is a 'rescue' dog do not carry this label with you as an issue, many rescues are great dogs, possibly poorly trained, possibly nervous or ill treated, you can turn this around just put the time and effort in. Many dog issues are to do with the way they are treated indoors, more than outdoors. You must be the dominate one and if they know that, they expect you to sort out the issue and not them, you are not their mum or dad you are their owner, their 'boss'. Treat your dog with love and care and affection, but stay in charge. Behaviour learnt in the first 18 months is very hard to change but it can be done. LAW, why oh why do some idiots always revert back to this, my animal runs free all the time he needs hours of exercise per day, if he had to be on lead all the time he and I would go mad. In fact I would not have a dog it would be cruel. IF you want one on a 'lead' get a toy dog on wheels, you don't have to learn anything, or even 'pick up'. Work out what your dog needs , or get a dog breed you can provide for, in energy terms, as lots of dog issues come back to this. My dog had a row with another dog a few days ago, the other dog followed my animal around and around just over his left shoulder and would not leave him alone, this was to intimidate and dominate my dog who allowed it to go on for an age, when the other dog stood on his back he retaliated and a scuffle occurred, the other dog owner rushed over kicked my dog and called it aggressive, he hadn't a single idea what had gone on and saw the behaviour of his dog as friendly, it was not it was dog behaviour in the dominance stakes, LEARN. No injuries, no harm, and once they sorted out who was boss they got on fine. There are many many different stories and each one carries some weight but you need to be careful what you wish for, if your dog is an issue you may not have enough knowledge to understand behaviour, if you own a dog buy a book or two, read them ! Watch tv on the dog trainers , learn how to own a dog, please before one of these dog law spouters or some other 'expert' vet stops owning a dog enjoyable, but mostly remember you own the dog the dog does not own you. 20 mins walk round the block twice a day(on the lead) is nothing to a dog, even a very small one. If that all you can give it don't get it.”

Pete Donnelly, Poole

“We have six dogs, I am a professional dog walker and trainer, we also undertake dog assessments for a rehoming charity. If I see you (or, more than likely, I'll see your dog before I see you), I will recall my dogs and I will put them on lead if necessary. If possible, I will avoid you. If your dog charges up to mine, uninvited, I will suggest you recall your dog. If you don't, or can't do that, I will be fearful that I am going to be injured. That's all the law requires for you to be in the wrong and a Judge will conclude your dog is dangerously out of control. Why am I fearful? Because dog on dog aggression is a dangerous situation. Intervening in a dog fight often results in humans being bitten. If you are in any doubt about this, then clue yourself up on 'redirected aggression'. Whether you believe your dog is friendly is not the issue and it is certainly not my concern. Your dog is YOUR responsibility. My dogs are MY responsibility. If I am harassed and intimidated by your dog then YOU should do something about it. If I choose to have my dogs on a lead (note it is called a lead -many of you should probably call it a 'restraint') then that is not your concern. You have no right to tell me to let my dogs off, or that I'm making my dog nervous, or any of the other nonsense I have read here. You have no right to dominate parks or open access land with your dog running around like a hooligan. Yes, you do have welfare considerations (the five freedoms) but these don't permit you to make blasé statements and it certainly doesn't entitle you and your property (err that's your dog) to interfere with me or others. Now, if you recall your dog when you see me, we may well have a pleasant chat and agree our dogs can have a play off the lead, provided we don't interfere with any other people or animals. This happens frequently - it's a pleasant way to meet like minded people. My dogs are off lead 90% of the time. They are under my control 99.99% of the time - hey, no one is perfect :-)”

John Dog Walker, Wales

“Hi, As a fairly new dog owner (of a rescue cross border collie/rottweiler) I read the first part of the article and totally questioned all that I have been doing with my new companion (obedience, long walks, socialization, etc) and panicked that my lovely, albeit not 100% obedient, and super friendly puppy is breaking laws and is a nuisance. I revisited this site by accident today and I am SO relieved to see people saying it is ok and completely normal for dogs to go and greet other dogs, and actually it is exactly what they need. For socialization, we attend a 'doggie playtime' whereby any friendly dog/human can let their dog off the lead in a huge field. It truely is a sight to behold, approx. 50 dogs, of all sizes, running, sniffing, jumping, playing, sharing toys etc. There are scuffles, as to be expected, and the dogs sort it out themselves. The dogs that are the most problematic tend to be dragging their dog around on a tight leash and panicking anytime a friendly dog approaches. I have recently had a run in with an uptight individual who took great offence to my curious puppy (on the lead), sniffing her friendly dog, hitting him on the head with a stick, and then complaining when he jumped up (thinking she was playing throw the stick). It totally knocked my confidence and I felt wary of taking him off the lead. I can't thank people enough for their comments on here in support of off the lead walking, it really has made me feel 100% better about the future with my dog.”

J Hinde, Liverpool

“Last year I was nearly attacked by the same dog (twice)!! whilst I was out walking not far from my home. I was on the pavement (I don't own a dog) minding my own business when the dog (border collie) came running towards me growling and an inch away from biting my leg. I screamed and shouted at it, it then ran off. The property from where it came from had its 2 huge gates open. Between the property and the pavement is a road, so it had run across there to get to me. If a car had come and hit it, it would have been the car owner's fault not the dog's. I got home visibly shaking and upset and that night I wrote a letter to the owners outlining what had happened and telephoned the police. The police said they were going to go round to the house and speak to the owners, but I haven't heard anything since. Dog owners take note please, you've all seen the horror stories and photos in the newspapers of people with significant wounds and it breaks my heart to see this...and I am increasingly concerned that they are becoming more frequent.”

Janine Price, Glasbury, Wales

“I believe it's the owners responsibility to ensure the dog is not a danger to other dogs and people. I walk my two Lhasa's off the lead in a field near where I live. when I see other dogs in the field I put my dogs on their leads. the female Lhasa is very friendly the male is very timid and I not only put him on a lead I pick him up. He has never bitten or attacked another dog as he is very frightened of other dogs, but just in case I do carry him. Yesterday I was walking my dogs in the same field off the lead no other dogs were about. Then near the end of the walk my male Lhasa ran past me and off I looked behind me for the female dog and to my horror a chocolate Labrador was attacking my female Lhasa, I ran to help but was too frightened to try and take the dog off of mine. I looked in the adjoining field for the owner only to see a man with another chocolate Labrador strolling through. He didn't call his dog back when the dog went. I shouted to him to get his dog off of mine and he then decided to fasten his pace. He got the dog off and did ask if she was ok I could see she wasn't then when I said I'll have to take her to the vets and I'll send him the bill he got very nasty. I was very shocked at what had happened. My other dog was so frightened he ran home down a busy road. I could have lost both dogs yesterday all because one person was not a responsible dog owner. I'm happy for dogs to be off of their leads but put them on the leads when other dogs are around then you have control over them and if this had happened then my dog would not have been attacked and my other dog so frightened he put his life at risk by running home. I have never had my dogs be aggressive to another dog but I always make sure I have control over them just in case there's a first incident. I didn't see the other dogs as they where in the adjoining field, but that dog owner would have seen us and should have taken action straightaway when his dog ran off towards my dog. JUST BE RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERS”

Louise Mawson, Bramford Ipswich

“If you have a dog that has to be kept on a lead because it is aggressive to other dogs or people then either, only go on walks where no other dog owners go (or places where all dogs are enforced to be on leads) or just get the thing put down. Do not go walking where other dog owners have got their dogs off the lead because dogs will be dogs and problems are bound to arise. The most miserable experiences I have had when out walking my off lead friendly dogs are the anxious/nervous dog owners with dogs on the lead. One of my friendly dogs will approach their dog to have a sniff/play etc and before they even get near, the nervous owner is screaming for him to stay away and generally getting into an animated stress fuelled little hissy fit. No surprise that my dog sees this as some sort of "game" and starts barking or running around the persons dog. This can then escalate to the person acting as if they are being personally savaged and ramping up the histrionics. They don't seem to have any sense of awareness that they themselves are the problem here. They seem to think that every dog owner should have their dog on a lead because they have a problem dog and are themselves neurotic morons. like I say, walk it where no other dog owners will be or get the thing put down.”

Doggy Dave

“I have two very placid spaniels one who is quite submissive due to being attacked previously and one who is only just over a year old and yet to appreciate that not every dog is as well socialised as he is. We live in the middle of agricultural countryside with lots of woods and heaths around. The 'put your dog on a lead' brigade are always the most vocal, the most hostile and the most disagreeable part of owning a dog these days to the point I don't think I will be having anymore dogs once my current two have shuffled off to dog heaven. I love dogs, I like relaxed dog owners who can appreciate that dogs will be dogs and they need to be allowed to properly socialise otherwise you just store up problems. What I can't stand are those uptight, neurotic owners who think they know the law regarding whether or not dogs should be on a leash. Time and time again I will see an owner at some distance reeling in their dog, screaming at my dogs to stay away, transmitting their own neurosis and anxieties to their dogs with a complete lack of understanding that they are the main problem. Despite my dog being attacked - I have never sought to limit his contact with other dogs and he got over the experience quite quickly although he is wary of certain dogs on leads as he finds them to be unduly aggressive and he will usually give them quite a wide berth. If you don't want to come into contact with unleashed dogs - stick to urban roads or town parks and leave the rest of us and our dogs to enjoy a romp through the countryside as nature intended without being treated like criminals or being told we are 'breaking the law' which for your information (speaking as someone who has read all the legislation inside and out and has not picked up some version that suits their purpose from excerpts on the Internet) we are not!”

Sarah M, Bedford

“Dogs off leads hardly ever get into fights, a bit of growling and pushing but that is about it. The problem is owners who are so protective of their dogs they keep them constrained on leads out on walks and their dogs never learn to socialise or they become protective of their owners or fearful because their owner panics when s/he sees other dogs. Yes I have owned rescues and fearful dogs but all have been socialised by me so they can walk off the lead. If you cannot let your dog off the lead around other dogs then stay away from the countryside. Your priority is to socialise your dog so it can walk off the lead and meet other dogs. Otherwise walk on paths away from other dogs who may be off the lead.”

Liam Filcher, Guildford

“I have three dogs that are high energy. They need two hours of active exercise per day. I own a treadmill for 'troting' them and we do lots of stimulation games. But in my opinion they NEED off leash walking also. A dog can be taught to walk to heal but that isn't going to get them properly stretching their legs and using a variety of muscles... However if you don't put your dog/s on a lead when you see another dog walker with their dog on a lead I think it is highly irresponsible and dangerous for the dogs and owners, because the dog on the lead cant get away and could feel intimidated by the other dogs. We are constantly looking out for other dogs to be aware of when they need to be called back as often we want to call them back before they've noticed the other dog and got a distraction. On our last walk we messed up and all of a sudden our dogs charged up to another person... I was distraught and apologizing but the chap was so lovely and greeted our dogs and remained calm. I don't care for dogmatic views that no dog should be ever let of the lead... I cant stand people who are so regimented in their thinking and beliefs. Dogs will fight/attack, we've been there with one of ours who was attacked badly by a staff... it's not nice... but for all the times that are not nice the memories I form with mine along the way of them really showing us their true potential when running out in fields is just second to none and my absolute favourite times of being with my dogs!”

G M, Peterborough

“Oh my God, is this the one shop for bigoted, self-righteous scare mongers? I was horrified to read one post from a 'vet' about never letting any dog off the lead and that Staffies are evil head eating dogs. You should be ashamed of yourself in your position and no doubt any other vet would see you a disgrace to their professional (except maybe for your son but then perhaps the apple doesn't fall far from the tree). With those attitudes you are both clearly in the wrong job. How anyone can say categorically that every dog is likely to attack at some point is utter crap. Don't make judgements on other people's dogs. Yes there are those who really should have their dog on a lead if they are aggressive and I feel for you when other dogs come running up despite a dog being on a lead a pretty good warning that you should not approach. I do believe a dog should have perfect recall and be fully trusted before you let them off but I do not agree with the people who say you should never walk your dog where people and children are - we don't complain about your screaming brats under our feet, crashing scooters and bikes into us and disturbing the peace but it's fine for you to hate on dogs? How about if you don't like it, you don't go out in public and leave the rest of us to enjoy the countryside. I personally have a collie/springer and have had a collie x before that but there are staffies in my family and I have known a lot of dogs in my time - I have without doubt say that the soppiest and most loving of all those dogs have been the staffies without a bad bone in their body. People stigmatising dogs are the ones who should be put down - you create more difficulties in society than any other person or dog. Any breed can be dangerous, it comes down to how they were brought up - a lot like some of the people on this forum.”

Kat Kelleher, Yelverton

“I have been fostering a small, gentle jack russell terrier for nearly three months and have experienced eight dog attacks, all very large breeds off the lead and on occasions there have been two or three dogs out of control in most of these instances. The fact is whether your dog is friendly or aggressive is irrelevant, you keep it on the lead where there are children or other dogs in sight to ensure other walkers and people feel safe! After this last attack with a rottweiler and a huge mastif type dog it has seriously affected my health as i nearly got my face bitten off either side of me. Legally if a person touches your arm they can be cautioned for general assault. Yet i have been badly affected by these dogs in this attack, i was nearly bitten and knocked over and because it has happened so often, i am now traumatised by this. Keep all dogs on the lead and dont just be a responsible owner be considerate of how your dog may frighten and traumatise others and put them at risk. I am now a nervous wreck and have difficulty going out - the behaviourist who pointed out about nervous people needs to consider other human beings and stop putting her dogs needs before them!”

Julie Smith

“i do not have any dogs, but my next door neighbour has two dogs that she always walks without leads, they will always run up to people and bark, one is a black labrador and the other is a boarder collie, it is the boarder collie that scares people and the owner has been reported a number of times for letting her dogs foul other peoples gardens. my neighbour just thinks it is all amusing and says they are friendly but she never has any control over them, they are a nuisance to people and other animals alike is there anything that can be done about this any advise would be appretiated thank you.”

Alec Kavanagh, Glenrothes

“Does anyone know who is liable for the vets bills when a registered dog sitter lets your dog off the lead (having been verbally asked not too for all the above reasons) my dog then apparently got tangled in another dogs lead resulting in a huge neck wound requiring an operation, antibiotics etc to the tune of 600 and counting. I have a nagging feeling since the dog sitter has not even phoned to see how our dog is getting on that they may be feeling guilty and may be worried that we claim against their insurance. Is it really law to keep all dogs on leads on common ground (which we always do as our dog is playful and does bounce up to other dogs) I keep her on the lead for the sake of other dog owners whose dogs may be frightened etc by our dogs over attention.I also dislike it when other people let their dogs come over to ours off the lead. Our dog is a rescue dog and although placid is like any dog capable of being a dog.”

Allison Swan, Poole In Dorset

“As the owner of an American bull/Staffordshire cross, I constantly encounter huge negativity on lead or off. People will pick their dog up (increasing my dogs curiosity) or tension the lead on a bigger dog (increasing it's anxiety) Many people in London have a dogs as some kind of fashion add-on, and oh how they love to generalise and stigmatise other breeds/types and their owners to make themselves feel better. Dogs are social animals, and life involves a certain level of risk. If I were to put my dog on a lead every time another dog approached I would wear the clip out. If an owner calls to me with a rational concern I will harness my dog, but owners who only do it because my dog is a bull type will be ignored. As for "vile middle aged women" I agree these can be the worst, but by no means do they stand alone. In this part of London we have to deal with the pseudo country set and their look alike Labs/Gun dogs, pampered nervous lap dogs, and the hooded ones who choose my dog as their emblem. To the person who carries a pole to dispatch justice on other dogs, lets hope we never meet. And to the other who likes to use their boot, I am sure my "Devil dog" would love to meet your foot and test out that other load of canine twaddle, her "locking jaw". I will let my dog run free in the places I can, not on the streets, not near horses and not in the countryside near livestock. If you don't like that, I suggest you take up knitting and keep your dog in doors.”

James Duncan, London

“What is wrong: is the tree hugging, hippy like twerps that think it's a dogs god given right to run free on their walks - since when have you seen pack animals look at their watches and say - come on chaps time to run round like loonies until we're knackered?! You 'dog owners' without leads! haven't got a clue from 50 metres away what the temperament of my dog is (or any other dog on lead) I've been to Longleat when the lions are sitting around, doing naff all and quite boring - to the entrance fee paying public - then come the rangers!! Driving right at the lazy darlings to get them off their butts so that we all go home happy to return another time because the kids said how much fun the lions were. They don't have to be off their lead to have fun and exercise - my dogs muscle definition has been achieved by walking on a lead 3 miles a day. You should be more considerate, and responsible and aware that not all dog owners are as perfect as you! I've had 7 rescue dogs in my lifetime and they've all reacted differently when dogs have approached them and I have a very firm "grip" on dog walking in PUBLIC places!!!”

Ellen Green, High Wycombe

“Well we have a lovely little black and white Jack Russell whom we all love dearly. We have tried letting him have a run around off the lead but do prefer to keep him on a lead in public at all times and this is because he is a little bit unpredictable and runs off sometimes he is okay and is friendly with another dog but then on other occasions don't like them at all . Therefore I don't relish the thought of wasting my day in a vets a spoilt walk and a huge vet bill aswell as my dog being bitten. I respect that although we adore our dog other people might not and actually may be very frightened of dogs and may not want my dog jumping all over them , therefore I keep my little fella on a lead out on walks , I try to train him well and not to jump at other people and respect their feelings he goes on lovely long walks I run with him along the beach he gets all the exercise he needs and we always pick up our dog mess as it is not nice that other people may tread in it and it don't look very nice infact a friend of ours has over come his fear of dogs since visiting us as we have trained him well and very friendly with people I'm confident to say this it's just if he is intimidated by another dog and to be honest I don't want my dog bitten at all please follow the law and keep your dog on a lead save yourself an afternoon in the vets and how do you know that my dog is friendly ? ACTUALLY YOU DON'T.”

Cheryl Schofield, Kent

“I have six dogs...two Greyhounds, a lurcher, a Staffie-Lab x, a terrier and a baby Staffie....and sometimes walk my son's Staffie too. I take them in two threes or a four and a three, often the Greys and lurcher together, then the small dogs. I am not able to let the greys off lead as they have NO recall at all, the little lurcher (a cruelty case)is unreliable with stranger-dogs and is on lead and muzzled all the time. It never fails to amaze me how stupid people are, they see a group of big dogs .......all muzzled and on leads.....yet allow their dog to rush up to mine, when chaos ensues. IF your dog recalls INSTANTLY (even when he would much rather play with another!!), then by all means let him off but respect that MINE might object if he does not return to you immediately and approaches them. My smaller dogs are often off lead BUT immediately recall and if they don't, are returned to lead walking for a day or two to remind them......and they ALL walk for over two hours a day (so I do four hours at least!!) My friend however owns the worst behaved THING in the world, she sees NO problem with her bitch racing into other-dog-situations and I feel its a matter of time before she is bitten (or worse) If allowed freedom and off lead, then the owner never knows where her dog is, in fact she recently called me to come and help her catch the thing, as she had been calling her for OVER an hour and a THAT just made me FURIOUS!!!!! I DREAD the days we meet to walk our dogs together....though seeing her dog's behaviour does make me VERY proud of mine!!!! Its all down to owner responsibility, and is never the dog's fault.”

Maria Palmer, Herefordshire

“There is a place for a dog to be on the lead and a place for them to be off the lead. I have a nervous rescue dog who when out with our dog walking group is well socialised and plays and runs with other loose dogs in areas away from roads, cars, farm animals etc. However, the paths and pavements around the estate is not the place for a dog not to be on a lead. We have had four nasty encounters,all with loose dogs off lead when walking round the estate, where my dog has been on her lead, walking to heel and the loose dog has charged her or the Dax. Only one of the owners offered an apology, one hit me with the retractable lead when I told her to put her dog on the lead and a man threatened me with violence if I touched one of his two Alsatians whilst they were both attacking my terrier. I now only ever walk the dogs one at a time. Had these dogs been on leads none of these attacks/scuffles would have ever happened. Am I the irresponsible dog owner ??? Or the person not on the end of the other dogs lead.”

Sian Collins, Telford

“i have only had my dog two weeks , first ever dog , and already i have experienced ppl who really shouldnt own dogs , yes mine is a staffordshire bull terrier but he seems to like other dogs , he just wants to play , but today a dog came running up to him purly to attack , it didnt sniff or anything just ran up and set too , this dog had already attacked two other dogs about 10 minutes before and the owner did nothing , i saw it happen from a distance , it was up too the owner of the other two dogs to pull them apart , i had no choice but to walk this way which was near this dog as it was the entrance and i was goin home , the owners did nothing didnt even call the dog , but when they saw my husband kicking it and pulling it off our dog , they then came over and gave us some right filthy looks like it was our fault ? im still mad now , i can't believe this kinda thing happens , why on earth would you have a dog aggressive dog running loose in an area that was full of dogs and children , i had to push my 10 year old daughter out of the way for fear of her been bitten , its not the first time in the short time i have had him either that we have experienced this , but this was the worst one , the other's have just been dogs barking at him or abit of growing on other dogs behalf , im worried now about walking him as if my husband wasnt there i dont know what i would of done , as this dog was massive”

Amanda Powell

“Hello, I would like to take the opportunity perhaps enlighten some dog owners to the fact that SIGHT HOUNDS need to be kept on a lead as a protection to themselves and also other creatures and would be irresponsible of me to off lead this type of dog due to his characteristics as a breed. My rescue which is a whippet, a year old and very interested, alert also very excitable therefore on a lead until such time he can come to recall. I have had an experience from a person who I met in the park THREE times requested her to call her dog away on each occasion as to have a dog chasing your dog on lead at hundred miles an hour is a tat bit worrying and also can DAMAGE the fine back bone up to the head of the sight hound. This same person has ignored my requests and continued to hurl abuse at me for not letting my dog off lead and informing me to take my dog elsewhere......I am frustrated and angry that people do not have the common decency to respect other people and dogs by simply getting their dog on a lead given enough time to do it or is it that they CANNOT AND WILL NOT respect other users of the park? Please all....take a note that SIGHT HOUNDS are delicate dogs and have to be on a lead for their own good and the good of others and be sure that responsible owners of these hounds will make sure their hounds are happy and healthy and well exercised. Are there any others out there that understand THE SIGHT HOUND? Christine Nicklin Dagenham, Essex.”

Christine Nicklin, Dagenham, Essex.

“if you love dogs you should want to see them running around and interacting with other dogs. if i dog is to aggressive to be allowed off the lead then it should be muzzled as not just friendly dogs that might approach it but friendly children as well. i sometimes meet a women with a large crossbreed pup and she always pulls it away from my dog when ever i meet her. yet on the one occasion that the 2 dogs met when both where off the lead they both ended up rolling around and playing. the issue i think is more that peaple treat their dogs like children and do not allow them to socialize. this dog will become as nervous around other dogs as the owner is and to my way of thinking although the law says her dog is under control she is actually creating and behaviour in her dog that will make it aggresive over a period of time. a dog is not a person its a pack animal and people need to understand that and shouldnt own a dog if they cant get it. either on a lead or not. its the owner that creates the behaviour in the dog. dogs need to run about and play not be kept on a lead all the time. the loony who carries the walking pole is an example her dog will pick up on her nervousness and therefore will be aggresive to dogs that approach it. should she have a dog therefore? well er NO i would say”

Craig Mcneill, Erskine

“Unfortunately, people cannot be controlled. Unless someone passes a dog law. And people are the issue here. I am not against off lead dogs, but people should not let their dogs off lead to harass other people/children/dogs/ farm animals -dogs should only be let off lead when the owner has trained their dog and it responds reliably every time. As the majority of people have shown they cannot/will not be responsible and train their dogs to this standard themselves, I believe it should be LAW that all people have to take their dogs to training classes, and they are only allowed to let their dog off leash in public when they have this level of control (possibly doing some kind of yearly test to prove this control, and get a certificate to show to law enforcement on demand). Once they have this control, they may let their dog off lead, but there should be a LAW saying each off lead dog MUST be recalled to heel as soon as the owners see an approaching group/dog/children/farm animal, AND especially on approaching a blind corner, not knowing what is just around the bend, the dog must be under control and not allowed to go around a blind corner first. Until the time that 100% control of every dog is reached, it should not be let off lead. Recalls, with distractions, can be practiced in large fields owned by dog schools. Once each dog is reliable, then it may run off lead. It should be recalled every time an approaching group of people/dogs/children/animals occurs, and all dogs (being well trained) will respond immediately and will therefore not harass other well trained dogs. Its not even necessary to put the dogs on lead as you pass, if your dog is trained to recall and to 'heel' perfectly as you pass the other group there will be no issues (because dogs in the other party will be equally well trained and will not leave their owners sides to bother your dogs!). If passing groups then talk and both are happy for the dogs to play, let them play, but keep watching for new approaching groups and be ready to recall your dogs again! If it is not possible to obtain this level of control with any individual dog, these are the dogs that should not, by law, be allowed off lead. Except on private property. They may still be exercised on lead, and enjoy the countryside to a degree, but should not be permitted to ruin other peoples walks/lunches/clothes etc, which is what these uncontrolled dogs end up doing, even if friendly. I personally have owned dogs for about 18 years. My first dog, a border collie, was no problem, he naturally stayed close to me, was very obedient and avoided other dogs so we had no confrontations. He never ran up to other dogs, (he choose to put me between him and the other dogs where possible) and he never snapped at them. His only issues came from unattended children thinking they had a right to pet him, I had to warn several children away as he disliked this, but because he was always at my side even though off lead, I could prevent any issues with said children. My next 2 dogs, of another herding breed, taught me the necessity of training dogs. One is a naturally strong willed dominant character, and she wants to rush up to strange dogs, initiate interactions, either play or by dominating them. The other, a young rehome, was not adequately socialised as a pup and demonstrates fear aggression. I am doing exactly what I have suggested above with these dogs -they are off lead, (with the rehome currently muzzled) and I recall them to my side the minute I see dogs approach. If I did nothing, the dominant dog would posture at the incoming dog, and the rehome would see that, defend his pack leader and attack first. I have trained both well to know that they will return immediately on my whistle and I have trained the dominant dog not to then leave my side to interrogate the incoming dog. The rehome wouldn't chose to interact if possible, unless my other dog does. We walk past 90 % of dogs like this with mine under control. The problem occurs if the strange dog is not well trained, is off lead and harasses my 'heeling' dogs -even if it is friendly. Only yesterday, the dominant dog stayed at heel with me passing a dog, and the incoming dog bounced around my rehome, and wouldn't let him go past! My rehome was nervous, tried to ignore it, but eventually chased it aggressively to get it to leave him alone. He was muzzled for instances just like this, where the other owner cannot recall their dog, to prevent him injuring such a dog. I am working hard on getting both dogs to ignore ALL other dogs, but until he has the confidence in himself to pass any dog, whatever it is doing, I will keep him muzzled. But I refuse to put him on lead as well, he doesn't go far ahead, has an excellent recall and I call him to heel as soon as I see a dog. Which he ignores, unless it persists in coming into his space and bothering him. I muzzle him for these situations, because so many people cannot keep their dogs away from us, but if a dog comes right up to us and bothers him this much, I think the owner of that dog deserves the little fright they will get when my muzzled dog decides he has had enough and chases it!! IF ALL OWNERS WERE MADE TO ADEQUATELY TRAIN ALL DOGS, all these situations would not occur.”

Colliemum , Cambridgeshire

“Ok. First of all I just have to say that people are the problem here not dogs! If you own a dog then it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog behaves well regardless of other dogs, people, anything. So those of you that are wobbling on about inconsiderate people with off-lead dogs, work on sorting your leashed dog out so that it can cope with off lead dogs, fearful dogs, aggressive dogs, horses, elephants - whatever. In nature dogs fight, that's what they do. Our domesticated dogs need guidance to avoid this, if your dog shows aggression whether on or off a lead then deal with it. If your dog shows fear of other dogs whether on or off a lead then deal with it. Don't blame other people for your dog's neurosis, look to yourself. The amount of clients that I have helped that have stated that their dog became aggressive after another dog attacked them is staggering -but the fact of the matter is that aggression is natural social behaviour for dogs and it is ALWAYS the owners response to this aggression that escalates the fight and encourages future aggression. There are always going to be idiots that are failing abysmally at training their dog or that are ignorant in general but there is absolutely nothing you as a dog owner can do about other people! Sort your own dog out so that you do not have to worry about other dogs, and while you're at it sort your self out so that you are able to protect your dog from other dogs - that is your role as their carer and 'leader'.

Nervous handlers that have nervous dogs on a lead are a menace to dog walkers everywhere because they act as targets for other dogs by kicking out huge clouds of adrenaline and by being generally tense on sighting another dog! There is nothing worse than a sanctimonious bag of nerves moaning about off lead dogs when it is their fear that is triggering the whole overblown excited interlude by passing fear and tension to their dog, who in turn becomes defensive and gives the approaching dog threatening eye contact in order to protect the ineffectual owner that has started this whole episode. This then can trigger excitement in balanced dogs and aggression in unbalanced ones! We do not need tighter leash laws, we need basic dog psychology training for dog owners. It's actually (in my experience as a canine behaviour practitioner) the laid back 'off-lead' owners that have more balanced dogs on the whole - Each and every dog owner should take responsibility for their dogs learning, behaviour and protection. At the very least they could google how their own behaviour affects their dog. Sorry for the rant, but seriously, stop blaming other people, you have a dog so take on the responsibility of being a responsible owner and make sure that you are not contributing to the problem. You cannot change other people but you can change your own and your dog's experience of life.

Off lead all the way for me, I have five off lead dogs - one of which was about to be put to sleep for dog aggression - he is now rehabilitated but wears a muzzle anyway due to predatory drift issues - and they don't all have perfect recall, they are all from neglected or abusive backgrounds and they have a right to be exercised off lead and enjoy some natural dog behaviour in their short lives. None are aggressive, none will retaliate if a dog attacks them so I don't have an issue with allowing them time to play, I know that my dogs will not hurt another dog even if they do get rather excited upon meeting new potential play mates. They are all very happy with their lot. They get the exercise that they require due to being allowed off lead experience and they are calm and submissive due to this. If one of my dogs occasionally runs toward another dog to greet them then this should be celebrated and I would like to think that if another dog responds with fear or aggression that the owner would address this instead of shouting at me about my 'out of control' dogs!! Get a grip please. If you don't like other dogs and have no desire to step up to the requirements of dog ownership then walk in remote places under cover of darkness and avoid other dogs if you so wish, but don't for one second blame other dog walkers, and don't expect your dog to be happy or fulfilled. And as for you Mr. Vet, shame on you. You really should be encouraging people to think in terms of animal psychology, not perpetuate a load of old rubbish about dogs being deadly weapons. Consider yourself told.”

Julia Lingard, Huddersfield

“I always had labradors in my life and no issues with other dogs. Unfortunately my young black lab was attacked by Ridgeback and a crossed German Shepherd/Husky She now has issues on single tracks and confirmed spaces i.e woodlands. Although she plays with her friends/ Strange dogs are an issue. If they run at her from behind or cross in front her she will lunge. Also now has disc problem so defensive towards dogs. Owners know their dog and I act accordingly towards other dogs. i e lead. It amazing when I tell dog owners she is defensive. Their dogs still run free.”

Margaret Starr, Windlesham

“I have two female Shih Tzu's who love to sit behind the garden gate 'watching the world go by' and up until a about 18 months ago they were always very quiet (hardly ever barked). But then a family living near by got a cream Labrador, the female of the family concerned when walking her dog past my garden gate decided it would 'be fun' to encourage her dog to leap at our dogs who, as I mentioned, are sitting quietly behind their own garden gate, my dogs had no option but to 'defend their territory' (their own garden!). Since this initial attack by the Labrador my dogs have become nervous in the presence of other dogs and are always on a lead when away from home i.e. out on walks etc. These attacks are now commonplace as the Lab is always off-lead (although the male family member has a dog lead strung over his shoulders and the woman carries a lead in her hand). I have remonstrated with both persons only to get verbal abuse from them. I could block out my garden gate but then my dogs would not be able to sit there; also the persons concerned would view this as a victory for themselves.

I do agree that not all dogs are trustworthy or even obedient when off lead; is it not time that the Lawmakers brought out a law demanding all dogs be kept on a lead in public places?”

Dave Mewlber, Yeovil

“Firstly its important to say that no dog should be allowed off the lead if it is anyway aggressive. However having perfect recall is another issue entirely. My dog (a gorgeous husky/malamute) is extremely friendly to everyone, dogs and people alike. When off lead she wanders off sniffing and exploring but always keeps me in sight. She doesn't have a perfect recall when she sees another dog as she is only a puppy still, but I always put her back on the lead if the other dog does not appreciate her youthful exuberance. How is a dog ever going to learn to recall if you cannot let them off a lead?! We take our dog training every week to a professional class and everything she learns to do there she needs to practice in an "area with distractions". I would never allow her to roam free if she had shown even the slightest aggression towards another person, dog, cat etc . . .

She does want to play with everything which I know is not to everyone's taste but this is something we are working on and will only master if we have the opportunity to train her in the sort of situations that need tackling.

I love to see happy,friendly dogs playing and socialising in the park and I'm so surprised that people don't feel the same. If you have an aggressive dog why take it to a place you know is frequented by off lead dogs? I used to think there were two types of people, dog lovers and those who don't. I'm now starting to think there are two types of dog lovers!

And (rescue dogs and problem dogs aside) I can't help thinking that some of the people who are so anti off lead just can't be bothered to train their dogs to come back.”

Emily , Leicester

“Many interesting and thought-provoking comments here - basically, it seems to me that unless you are 100% in control of your dog . . . and even the most gentle, biddable dog can swiftly 'turn' often due to pain/fear mainly, it would be wisest to keep them on a lead or be very sure there is no-one around. We are fortunate in having a reasonable sized garden, and have always had dogs. We also have cats, ducks, chickens and guinea pigs - all of whom get on very well together. Just as an aside, we get really upset with people who are amazed that our animals all get on - any self-respecting country person knows that this is normal really and as for those who actively encourage their animals to chase and attack others, whether domestic or farm stock should be ashamed of themselves. This leads me to my point about control - because we live down a track, most people think that they can release their dogs the second they get off the tarmac and allow them to run uncontrolled past our homes and gardens. We keep our gates shut, have notices up and our current dog is a large rescued GSD who wears a soft muzzle just to be on the safe side as he can be nervous on occasion. Sadly, he has been been hit with a stick and had stones thrown at him should he have the effrontery to bark at the strange dogs running wildly at him on his own territory, behind the gate. Also, heart breakingly, both my family and our neighbours have lost much-loved pet cats to uncontrolled dogs - one of whom got under the gate and one when someone had left it open and savaged them to death in their own gardens. This was particularly distressing for my children as they were their devoted pets. SO, is it legal for people to allow their dogs off the lead when walking past rural homes and gardens - surely, in towns and areas with made roads this would be wrong and mostly wouldn't happen, sheer common sense would support this. PLEASE keep your animals under control when walking by our homes . . .”

Karri Martin, Dorchester

“Ron (below) - as Martin Luther King Jr once said "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."”

Simon Livesay, Exeter

“I have a dog which is excellent off a lead, doesn't attack other dogs, but doesn't recall easily (alaskan malamute). If you have a dog which is nervous with other dogs, then you shouldn't walk in places where 90% of people let their dogs off a lead. Plain and simple. Dogs must run, they must be able to sniff each other, play a little game of dominance once in a while - its called proper socialisation, and makes the dogs very happy indeed. My dog is always happier once he has had a run. He only got agressive on a lead, when he couldn't greet other dogs. So my dog feels the need to meet and greet, if a small dog goes at him, he ignores it and walks the other direction, if i a big-ish dog goes for him, he reacts and retaliates (which is self-defense). (This happened with my dog on a lead, and the other dog off a lead.) So...Your all saying i am wrong? But frankly, its give and take, i go to the woods specifically for letting him off a lead. I walk down the road to the pub, and have to have him on a lead (roads). I suppose if i have to use a lead in an area without any dangers of motor vehicles, it defeats the object of going to the woods, or having an ENJOYABLE experience with my dog.”

Rob , Cornwall

“I am continually infuriated with blase dog owners who think that their dogs are fine off the lead without having any command or recall training. I'm an owner of an Alaskan Malamute who I rescued from the RSPCA. I got her secure enough, and trained enough, to run free from lead until she was viciously attacked by two german sheppards. The owner had no recall on her dogs, no physical strength to get her dogs off of mine and it was down to me to get them off my dog, master them, and send them back to her. Now, my dog has 'issues' with other dogs understandably. She is constantly on the lead and is always ready to attack when confronted with another dog. I encounter so many people with their dogs running free, I'll call out (in a friendly tone not to alert my dog to any danger) and explain that mine is unfriendly and would they like to leash their dog please. The confusion, and bloody mindedness, that I experience as they display their inept ability to control their dogs, allowing their dogs to circle mine, the niaive approach to the rear end, until ultimately I am restraining Mystic from a full on attack. With the smaller dogs it's not an issue.. but confronted with a large dog, german sheppard, labrador, collie, or god forbid, rotties and staffies.. I am literally in the midst of a full-on dog fight! If I muzzle my dog, then she is unable to defend herself when these owners do not have control over their pets and I am then under attack as they retaliate to her snarls. I personally think the law needs to be changed as it not only places my dog in danger, buy myself too. If I were to bitten by a dog that was off the lead, regardless of whether my dog was involved.. MY DOG IS LEASHED AND UNDER CONTROL! It would be your dogs at fault, and ultimately, you as the owners that would face legal action. It's getting very tiresome!”

Samantha Whelan, Sandhurst, Berkshire

“I own a nearly 4 year old large male chocolate labrador, he is about 3 inches taller than the breed standard for male labs, I have had him since he was 8 weeks old, he is the sweetest dog with other dogs, people, kids, livestock and horses.

He is walked at least 2-3 times a day and with each walk he is off lead in areas that allow, and at night he has a street walk. I am lucky in that there are quite a few very nice areas local to me that allow off lead dogs, wooded walks and fields etc

My lab has very good recall and is very well trained in everything.

If when out walking I see other people and dogs, or bikers and joggers etc I will call my dog to me and ask him to walk to heel which he does, I do this until either the jogger/biker has passed or until I pass the other people and dogs if their dogs aren't friendly or until we get to them and I know their friendly then my dog and theirs have a nice play together which my dog loves. When he's walking off lead he mostly stays behind or to the side of me sometimes going of slightly ahead but then going straight back to trotting happily behind or at the side of me, he does not chase any wild animals, birds etc, he has been face to face with rabbits and phesants etc and he walks right past them as if their not there! all in all he is a well trained well balanced happy dog.

I have had no bad words said about me or my dog becasue I am considerate towards others, if I see on lead dogs I either assume the dogs are not friendly or have not got good recall (I have met both types) and I act by getting my dog to heel until we pass.

I, however have many problems with other dog owners around where I am and my dog has been attacked his fair share of times becasue of stupid inconsiderate dog owners, the very first time being by 2 dobermans and an english pointer when he was 10 months old, he has been pinned, nipped and grabbed by other labs, german shepherds, rotties, staffies, collies, jack russels etc etc etc all these times the owners have either had their aggresive dogs off lead and they just have not been botherd or been aggressive to me. As said I do the considerate thing with my dog when I see other people with dogs coming toward me, but it's people who own dogs that they can't train and control letting their dogs run up to mine being aggressive and my dog does not retaliate one bit, he is submisive, very rarely now do other nasty dogs get to my dog, they meet my foot before anything else!

People who own aggressive dogs should have their dogs on lead and maybe muzzled at all times, and if they don't like that, walk where no one else goes so you don't have to worry, or trai your dog properly, it really annoys me when I see people that I know own aggressive dogs and they still insist on having their dogs off lead in a hotspot for other dog walkers!

Another problem I have with other people is a lot of people for some reason seem scared of my dog, and when I have been walking my dog with friends and their dogs and we see other people, the other people pet the other dogs but not mine, and my dog is very polite when meeting people outside or in the home, he doesn't jump or insist that you always pet him, I have even been walking with other chocolate lab owners and still people fuss the other dogs but not mine.

I have even had a person who himself owned 5 labradors asking if my lab was a doberman!!

I'm getting fed up with people walking away from my dog if were passing, or pressing themselves up againts a wall if were passing etc etc etc I honestly do not know what thier problem is with my dog.

Luckily around where I live there are quite a few friendly dogs and owners who my dog can play with and I can chat with and know one really seems to have a problem with any size dog being off lead.”

Holly Lloyd, Coedpoeth, North Wales

“I found this website while looking for a walking playmate for my year old Labrador. As Labrador owners will know, they need a lot of exercise! I am suprised by all the negativity on this site given that we are all caring dog owners. If someone has a dog that is known to be aggressive towards other dogs for whatever reason, fear or otherwise, it should either be muzzled or walked in an area away from other dogs. If an owner is afraid of other dogs approaching their dog, for whatever reason, this fear will be transmitted to their dog and can trigger the aggression. Trouble usually occurs when one dog is on a lead and the other is not. Either both should be off a lead or both on. If this cant be resolved then a dog that is uncomfortable off lead should not be walked where others are off lead. Its as simple as that and is the responsiblity of its owner. No matter how much a person might like to walk in a particular place, avoidance of conflict is probably the easiest solution. However, I believe that a healthy balanced dog should be allowed to run, and if you cant jog with a dog on a lead then it needs some time to run free. Mysolution would be to find areas dedicated solely to dogs that could run free, with all sorts of obstacles and different areas to challenge them. I would love to find a place like that for my energetic water loving Labrador. It would be great to have a large scale equivalent of an American dog park nearby, or even a dedicated dog running track. As for those with sensitive dogs, the National Trust have beautiful lead only dog walking spaces. Given that I have not been able to find a dedicated dog exercise center, I will continue to responsibly let my dog off the lead in areas that I know other dogs are lead free, to keep him happy and fit as nature intended.”

Donna Rogers, Reading

“I am very annoyed to read the comments here that feel that dogs on a lead are 'chained up' and cannot play. I have never had a days peace taking our ex - racer greyhounds out for a walk. They are mild mannered and by requirement they HAVE to be on a lead for their own safety and well being. However, our walks are totally stressed out by the ignorance of owners who think its fine not to even carry a lead and allow their dogs (some collarless) to charge up out of nowhere and frighten the living daylights out of our dogs and even us on occasions. We are then abused because we ask if they can put their dog on a lead even if it is just to allow us to pass by without any incident. No owner has been able to call their dog back successfully and in my view that is irresponsible. It shows absolutely no concern for other people or their leashed dogs. I will petition forever if I have to to ENFORCE a law for all dogs to be on a lead period. If owners want their dogs off a lead and think its fine for them to charge up and intimidate us and our dogs with no recall ability then they should find a place where they can let their dogs run wild. Why should we have to put up with this behaviour every time we go out so that other owners can just ignore the fact that they cant control their dogs. I think its absolutely disgraceful to be so ignorant. The law needs to change in favour of those who just want to walk their dog peacefully.”

Margaret Parker, Plymouth

“I am not very surprised to read the comments. People get a dog and just do not put the effort in to train them correctly. We have two female border collie puppies that are now 6 months old. We do walk them on leads around the block everyday & always pick up any mess. Being youngsters I am keen to introduce them to dogs, people and teach them some manners. Our girls are in no way aggressive but some peoples dogs off lead have given them some bad experiences. Another thing that bugs me are these dog owners greet our dogs and encourage them to jump up!!! I want our girls to meet as many people as possible but I want them to have manners. If you say anything people say awwwwww but they are only pups!!! When they are fully grown collies they aren't going to be cute jumping up like that!! As a result we now take the dogs on lead to English heritage gardens or National trust gardens that permit dogs. Our experience is that because its a strict dog on lead policy there are more responsible dog owners there. On weekends we take the girls at the crack of light to a remote countryside walk. We keep them on lead until we get to one particular small empty field, let them off to run to their hearts content and then we do some recall training. It's a great spot where we can see if anyone is coming and then get them back on lead but I'm confident that they cant escape and potentially damage wildlife. We spend an hour or two there and I end up with two very happy and worn out girls!! Also I am happy because I'm away from any irresponsible dog owners.”

Louise Wood, Worcester

“I too was looking for a new place to exercise my 2 collies off lead where they can run and play with each other. I am amazed at the sheer number of people who never let their dogs off the lead. If they are never able to run and get tired out I am not surprised they have mental problems. I would suggest that people who never want to let their dogs off the lead keep to walks on pavements or lead only walks. Then the rest of us can happily let our dogs play and exercise happily together in suitable spaces.”

Jan Ward, Northampton

“When you take on a pup, the chances are that it will grow up to be a balanced, lovely, friendly dog because you have taken care to socialise and train it. We have a 13yo English Bull Terrier (with us since she was 3 months) - we took care to do just that as a pup - she's been a sweetheart with dogs, people, kids and in any situation. However, more often than not with rescue dogs, they have issues because of bad experiences or lack of proper care in their former life. When you take on a rescue, you are basically mopping up other people's mess the best way you can. We also have two rescue Lurchers - both dumped dogs - lovely dogs. One has always been untrustworthy with other dogs - in the early days, he was like a thing possessed when he saw a dog or if one came near him so he had to stay on-lead and we had to avoid other dogs as owners would just let their dogs rush up even though we were well away from them - they'd then get stroppy when our dog would bark. We have never been able to let him off his flexi-lead around other dogs and it's still the case today even though he's much calmer (it's taken a lot of patience and work). Our other rescue Lurcher is timid but he was ok with other dogs so we were able to let him off. However, he was attacked on two different occasions over the past year by dogs whose owners had no control over their dogs and now he has fear aggression. He's now very nervous and fearful of dogs both on and off-lead - his hackles go up, he lunges and barks - we're trying to work through this with him but it's slow progress. He has lots of off-lead time on walks we know are quiet - we keep him on the lead with off-lead dogs he doesn't know and keep well out of the way of them. We never understand it when an owner allows their dog to charge over when they can see full well we've a dog on the lead and keeping out the way. We're trying to help our dog and such incidences can hinder any progress we've made. We're being responsible with our dog but are often made to feel it's our fault that the other dog is out of control. Why can't these dog owners just realise their responsibility too?”

“We call ourselves a nation of dog lovers yet so many think that walking across a field for half an hour with a chained up dog is "responsible". These are probably the same people who leave their dogs in a cage all day long and have it put to sleep the first time it messes on the living room rug. Dogs should be allowed to run and play and it is the owners who keep their pets on leads, shouting abuse at other owners to "keep it under control" that foster frustration, fear and aggression in their own dogs. Thankfully I live near a wooded park where there are always 40 or 50 dogs off lead; Occasionally a dog owner will come onto the park shouting at other owners about how nasty their chained up dog is while it cowers behind them or picking up their own dog while kicking out at any other approaching dog then wondering why their dog is frightened/aggressive towards other dogs/people. This thread has made me realise that people should be made to take a course before being entrusted with the life of another creature.”

Steve Smith

“I have read all these posts in amusement and surprised how we all think we know the canine. Wolf. Mutt whatever we want to call it. The dog will always be the mans and womans best friend. I cant believe the people i have met over time who should not have a dog as part as their family!!! They have not got a clue. Poor dogs. I have always been a responsible dog owner. Always communicated with all my pets i have had since i remember. If we are anxious or upset so are our pets!! They have a sixth sense we have lost. So all these people who have dogs on the lead and are worried whats round the corner. The dogs on leads will sense that. The dogs off the lead wont sense that!!! They will be having fun roaming and sniffing with no ties....would u like to be let out on a leash? All animals need freedim and excercise. If it comes back to you when you call it is happy to be part of you”

Jane Bateson, Cumbria

“I like to consider myself a resposible dog ownwe, as I always pick up after my dog and keep him on the lead on thr roadside. But I see know point in having a dog if it can'r run around and enjoy being off the lead, because some people have very aggresive dogs or ones that don't like other dogs. Are we not tarring all dogs/owners with the same brush? Where I walk my very friendly rescue dog, is over fields where there is no sheep/cows etc and very few other walkers/dogs. I realise I am very lucky in this, as many people do not have this luxury, but it would be a very sad day indeed, if dogs could not run around and play with other dogs!! And the only exercise they got what at a walking pace. Dogs need to run!”

Rebecca Taylor, Barnstaple

“Love all these comments here, can't believe that there are so many inconsiderate dog owners out there. Our dogs are always on leads, but I am sick of owners saying their dog is alright with others dogs and then go to attack our dogs. PUT THEM ON A LEAD WHEN OTHER DOGS ARE ABOUT. NOT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND IS IT.”

Gail , Little Borough

“I don't know how old this story is, but I'm going to add my 2 cents. I am seventeen and I live in england. I have been brought up around all kinds of dog my whole life. I currently own a female jack russell terrier. We have two dobermanns and tree jack russells. We had four but my baby boy died while under the care of omeone else. Anyway,my female is about four now, and I have walked her.offlead.her.entire life, and just by followiing the basic etiquette of dogowners, I have never had any problems. I wouldn't say that she is particularily well behaved, but she comes back when called, thus if I see a dog.on lead I can do the polite thing and put her back on. I think here should be a handbook out for proper.etiquette ith dogs, because so many people dontven administer common sense when it comes to meeting an onlead dog. I'm going to apoligise.for bad spelling and grammer, I amusing a tablet to type this.”


“I don't know how old this forum is but I find all this really sad when responsible dog owners are more and more worried about taking their dogs for a walk, personally it's one of the many pleasures of owning a dog, seeing them happily running around and (hopefully) playing with other dogs. I have a 'large' dog and he's the most well behaved off the lead, he isn't interested in other dogs and so goes round them, which helps when I pass owners who have rescue dogs or aggresive dogs. Although I am now joining in with being worried each time I walk him because of so many stories from others who have had their dog attacked, even from fellow walkers who I have become friends with. The owners are the only ones to blame, if they aren't savvy enough or care enough about other dogs when they own an aggressive dog, it worries me that mine could be attacked and I don't want his personality to change which inevitably would be the outcome. I wish there was a way to get rid of irresponsible dog owners, that would solve all the problems.”

Christine Harman, Stevenage

“I have run out of places to walk my dog, she is easily frightened, has recently been jumped on by two looses Newfoundlands, so is now kept on a long lead yet she was jumped on by a dog today I asked the owner to get her dog but she ignored me, I walked off muttering to my dog about irresponsible owners. The next minute she sent her dog after me and with a toddler in her arms chased me pushed me called me abusive names , she then threatened me with violence. I have decided this will be the last dog I own Hertfordshire”

Rosie Price, Hertfordshire

“There does seem to be an increased number of dog aggressive dogs around these days, not sure why this is. I have owned labradors for decades and have just had my 20 month male attacked, actually by another labrador. The dog that attacked is an older intact male, that is normally walked on a short leash and away from other dogs, I understand from other walkers that it is aggressive with all male dogs. Anyway, on the day in question, it was getting dark, quiet country path and it was off leash (owner not expecting any other dogs out) It instantly laid into my dog, who had multiple puncture wounds on the side of his face and neck. The owner panicked and I was left to split it up largely on my own (yes I got bit on the hand by the other dog and needed antibiotics). There is another large male dog that will come over and start staring aggressively at mine, and it is quite difficult to make him back off. He is part of a 'pack' walked by a dog walker, who appears unconcerned. I am able to control my dog from approaching other dogs, even though he is young. But for the first time in my life, I find myself getting a little nervous at times, as I keep hearing more and more stories in this area of dogs to watch out for, and the damage they have caused to other pets. Yes, lots of dogs will have a grumble as they walk past which is ok, but anything more serious, is I believe, avoidable. Lots of people seem to think that 'He doesnt like male dogs' suffices or 'He's fine with my other dog' (normally a bitch). People should neuter their male dogs if they are showing aggression towards other male dogs that the owner cannot control. It is dangerous and unacceptable to have a dog that routinely frightens or injures other animals.”

Sue Parker, Northwich

“Well, I came onto this website as I am trying to find a some good places to go with my dog where I can let her off lead for a good run. After reading these comments I am now afraid to let her off anywhere except our garden!! I had no idea how many people disliked dogs off the lead, this is certainly not something I ever knew about before! I have a labrador (I consider her a medium size) who is relatively well trained to recall by voice, clicker and whistle, but like most dogs there are occasions where if she gets sight or smell of something very exciting like a rabbit or a duck it may take a few calls to get her attention. My dog is an extremely submissive dog and rolls on her back whenever another dog approaches her. She loves to play with other dogs, it is absolutely her favourite thing in the world! I think I am pretty good, I always put her on the lead when I see another dog on a lead as I take that as a warning that the other dog is not good off the lead or may not like other dogs. I also put her on the lead if I see bikes, children, buggies etc etc, but have had the odd occasion when I have rounded a bend and we have met a family with bikes, buggies and dogs on leads with no warning!! I had one occasion when she was a pup where she reached the top of a mountain just in front of me and the summit was thick fog and pouring with rain so I didn't imagine there would be any way of her getting into trouble with anyone so I didn't call her back until I reached the top. Wrong decision!! There was a family sitting in the rain and fog eating a picnic which she had apparently helped herself to! The family told me off and I apologised profusely. I was certainly not defensive or aggressive. I strongly believe my dog benefits greatly from off lead exercise, especially being a working breed. I THOUGHT I was pretty responsible how I behaved when out, but it seems some people HATE to see dogs off the lead. I personally do not have a problem with it unless you know your dog is aggressive or a jumper upper. I would not like it if my dog jumped up people or was prone to attack. I think I would be too scared to let her off. What do you all think? Am I abhorrent?!! Opinions please! P.S. If anyone out there does not mind dogs being off the lead I am always looking for nice places to go where there won't be lots of people, sheep, bikes etc. Anyone know anywhere? Ideally North Wales or Cheshire. Thanks.”

Sarah Davies, Chester, Cheshire

“I came across this forum whilst looking for walks to take my dog on and have to say was very disappointed at the amount of comments made about "large" dogs. I own a "large" dog myself whom I always place on a lead when any dog or person approaches as I am aware of this prejudice against "large" dogs and don't want his size to intimidate anyone until they get a chance to approach him first. He loves people and other dogs but I have to say he has been approached and attacked (resulting in a torn ear and punctured neck) whilst on the lead by dogs of all shapes and sizes which has resulted in him becoming wary and growling on occasion which is then met by the other owners look of disgust as their inevitably unleashed dog jumps on his head or runs round and round him barking or growling too. It does not matter what size your dog is they are animals and won't always like or want to be near each other. As an owner you place them in these situations so you should be mature and responsible enough to handle them.”

Kim , Bury

“I too have a rescue dog and find it very frustrating when owners let their dogs run right up to mine when she is walking peacefully alongside me. It makes her tense and she will give chase! I don't like to see dogs on leads all of the time, but off lead walking should be done respectfully. Socialization is great, but it should be by invitation only. Some owners find this difficult to understand, off-lead should not mean 'free for all' then free to moan about the consequences.”

Joanna Willis, Hertfordshire

“I live in a national park. I simply dare not walk in some areas because of the sheer number of uncontrolled dogs. They charge up to me, sometimes knocking me over, sometimes just covering my clothes with mud and saliva. The owners don't care at all. They just shout stuff like 'Stop fussing, it's only country mud' or 'He won't hurt you'. If I were to throw mud at them without provocation, they'd be right to object. But I came out for a quiet walk, not an assault course with dog attack options. It's better not to say a word, in my experience. The dog owners are terrifyingly aggressive & all shout abuse if I resist or object to their animal's behaviour. The worst stand there swearing, abusing and threatening me. These are not young thugs. Older men are often the worst, but some middle aged women can be vile.”


“We walk our two Staffordshire Bull Terrier dogs twice daily, who are well trained and are entered in to shows We often have the problem with other dog walkers and the failure to keep their dogs on a lead and in control.

Last night again we were walking them on leads and a Labrador dog ran out and attacked the younger dog, he then defended himself and bit the dog. We then had a ton of abuse from a woman who hadn't seen the attack on our dog - saying we shouldn't have vicious dogs - she then went to attack me. We feel so frustrated at the way our dog got the blame and he was on the lead and we were in full control. The person whose dog it was agreed it was his fault and not ours but the woman still verbally abused us.”

Janice O'donohue, Kirkby Liverpool

“There's no such thing as a bad dog, just a bad owner!!!!”

Rob Howden, Leicester.

“I agree with the author of this post, if you are walking your dog/s and you see other people, children or dogs coming your way keep your animal under control. This means put their lead on, when you have past, them let them off.

Life is always a compromise. If it is too much hassle to put the dogs lead on then you shouldn't be walking the dog. All dogs are related to the grey wolf and are unpredictable, and have the potential to attack, especially anything running, it is their nature.

In our area their are lots of owners with two or more large dogs. The dogs run ahead the owner walks behind, they have no control. When you meet them they always say how friendly their dogs are [but] many times our little dog has been surrounded by these friendly dogs. She gets stressed. I get stressed. The other dog walker carries on without a care in the world. Eventually the large dogs move on to their next victim.

Our dog is part of our family, loved by our children more than anyone can imagine, if she is ever attacked emotions will be running very high. Lets just hope it never happens.”

Name Not Supplied

“"I have found that the only stressful part of walking with dogs is having them on a lead in the first place. If you have two dogs, as we have, the constant process of lead-untangling is almost as tiring as the walk." - David Clark, Dundee

May I, in that case, respectfully suggest that you either take shorter leads or teach your dogs to walk on-lead nicely? I've got 2 collie crosses, who are off-lead when the circumstances allow, but will be put on their leads, without any trouble, when meeting other people, dogs or livestock.

To me that is just a matter of common sense and respect; my boy hasn't got very good social skills and is very insecure, and if he doesn't like a dog he will have a go. My girl will ignore most dogs, but if she notices that my boy doesn't like them, she'll be happy to egg him on to have a go at the other dog!

This is all perfectly manageable, as long as people are considerate enough to keep their dogs away from mine. I'm sick and tired of hearing: "oh he's friendly" and "she only wants to play" - the latter being said to me while their dog had my girl pinned to the ground!

Even if your dog is sociable around other dogs, please be considerate of other dogs that aren't, and of people who don't like dogs. It's inconsiderate dog owners who give us all a bad name.”

Billy De Goede

“I own a re-homed, not rescue, Springer Spaniel, who is tolerant of other dogs for so long, but if he is continually harassed, will tell the other dog in no uncertain terms to go away.

I do find it frustrating when he is on the lead, and other dogs, regardless of their size, come and harass and pester whilst the owner makes no effort to call them off - stating their dog is harmless and only wants to play!

Each dog owner has a responsibility to manage their dog properly and safely, and not assume that every other dog will react in a friendly manner to their dog. If I am in a place where I know there is a possibility of my dog being a pest to someone else or another dog because they have something he wants, he is recalled and put on the lead.

People are often too naive about dog behaviour, even the so called experts who quite frankly sometimes give dog owners a bad name, whilst others do know what they are doing. A problem dog can be rehabilitated but only in controlled environments by people who know what to do, and whilst an owner can make every effort to be responsible to keep a dog with social issues or boisterous behaviour under control by keeping them on a short lead, other owners have a legal duty to keep their own dogs under control by preventing possible provocations and altercations, it does not take much to work out when somebody is giving you all the right signs to say my dog may have a problem so please keep your dog away!

The words common sense mean anything?”

Anne Hunter, Scarborough

“I agree with the author of the article, that people shouldn't let dogs off the lead if they have no control over them.

I've had to abandon looking at a view which had taken a half hour slog to reach because some silly woman had two enormous hounds running amok and didn't even have a lead to put them on if she'd been able to get anywhere near them which she couldn't.

My own small dog was terrified.”

Deborah Haigh, London

“I can see 'Rescued Dog Walker's point of view but I have found with my two dogs that they are happy and friendly with any other dog they encounter if they are off lead. If they are on leads they tend to be aggressive to other dogs as they must feel they are protecting me or they feel at a disadvantage.

I have talked to other dog owners who say the same thing.

My dogs are always on leads in the appropriate places. I discovered quite early on though that it is best to let them off when crossing a field of cows. If the cows are interested in the dogs they can both run faster than I can. The dogs aren't interested in the cows at all.”

Lea Roman, Bradford

“My concern is with so called professional dog walkers.

I have 2 boxers dogs aged 10 and 5 and was surrounded by 8 dogs let loose by a person who called herself a dog psychologist. She herself took 5 mins to approach me and at no time did she recall her dogs.

My 5 year old was on the lead as always as has been previously set upon my an uncontrolled dog. My dog was totally unnerved by these dogs and barked to defend himself whilst still on the lead. The so called psychologist then turned and whilst slowly walking past told me to muzzle my dog otherwise she would report me.

I made no response but have spoken to the local Environmental dept who say they will call back at some stage. Tell me has she the right and do these walkers who are getting more and more prolific carry a licence. I noted that this person did not look as if she even had a dog lead.

I am aware of responsible dog handling having exercised my dog in forest areas for 10 years, but why is it these walkers think they are above everyone else. I am sure they make a lot of money doing this type of practice, but who is monitoring them?

I would be interested in hearing from others who have had similar bad experiences. Thanks for reading this by the way - it does help my frustration!!”

Vanessa Turnbull, Camberley

“I would like to say that I too have a nervous greyhound cross rescue dog who on the lead will be aggressive towards other dogs, and totally agree that it is worrying when other peoples large dogs come bounding over to say hello.

However, he is fine off the lead with other dogs, and maybe your collie would be the same, although unfortunately it is not always appropriate for him to be off the lead due to his speed and single track mind when it comes to chasing anything that moves!!”

Kathleen Peter

“I have found that the only stressful part of walking with dogs is having them on a lead in the first place. If you have two dogs, as we have, the constant process of lead-untangling is almost as tiring as the walk.

There are certainly some areas where dogs should be on leads, and some where they should not be taken at all; notably in areas where lambing is taking place. Nevertheless I see no reason why our two well-behaved dogs should not be let off the lead on an open hill path for example, where they will happily trot along the path, not rampaging among the heather disturbing nesting game birds, offending other walkers or their dogs.

This runs contrary to the myriad signs which seem to be springing up all over the countryside warning dog owners to keep their animals on a lead at all times. With these I tend to do as I do with all examples of the nanny state/ over-prescriptive landowners and apply a hefty dose of common sense.

I have had run-ins with landowners in the past, notably one who insisted the dogs should be put on a lead as they would worry his sheep. He was less than pleased when I pointed out that there was not a sheep in sight and we had not seen hide nor hair of a sheep in eight miles.”

David Clark, Dundee

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