Monday, March 7, 2016

Boat Life Gloom: Off Leash Dogs

See the leashes.....  We use them.....  But as in other areas, marinas also have folks who are less concerned about doggie safety and the impact they have on others.    There are some very well trained dogs who don't really need leashes,  they pass as if on leash close by their owners - I'm not referring to them. I'm also not referring to dogs mistakenly getting off their boats by surprise.  It happens, it's happened to us.  I'm referring to folks who just don't seem to care.  Marinas tend to attract a large number of folks who believe dogs should be free and wander at will.   It's almost like they confuse living out in the country with the openness of the Bay.  As sailors, we can sail anywhere we can and want on the Bay - roam free.  But people forget,  just like there are rules of the road for sailing,  there are land rules to follow in a marina.

I'm sitting here tonight again feeling the effects to of those careless folks who don't think rules apply to them and let their dogs offleash in our marina.  I know this is a larger problem,  not one of the marina only. It really ruins my day.  I work very hard training my two and they aren't perfect,  but it makes it so much harder when others are oblivious and outright uncaring of others.

I'm at a loss of how to handle the owner who's dog is running full speed at my dog and yelling "he's friendly". I got into a little argument with a guy tonight when I told him I didn't care if his dog was friendly as his dog should be on leash. Mine is friendly as well and would like nothing more than me dropping her leash for them to play.  But we're in a park, not a dog park there are other people around and I'm trying to have a walk with my dog. He instead verbally attacked my dog who was visibly excited about his dog racing around us. Fortunately it was short lived as I wasn't sticking around too long. He doesn't care about the leash law. Unfortunately he lives here.  And I get to see him and his dog most days.

I've had neighbors let their dogs romp through the parking lot - clearly out of sight..... I've had dogs charge at my leashed dogs repeatedly while the owners fumble around surprised they are supposed to manage their dogs,  not even carrying a leash.  Our marina has had problems of people letting their dogs roam unattended.  I haven't seen, but have heard of some letting their dogs poop on other people's boats. I've picked up poop off of the dock from neighbors dogs so mine don't get the blame. It's always suprising.

Our marina has a large park and off leash dog play area - big, with lots of space, hills, a couple trails. There's really no reason to have your dog meandering through parking lots, streets and the city park area.  There's also little enforcement in our marina, I assume due to funding issues.

Admittedly, I am sensitive to this.  I have pitbulls and for the most part Tack and Clewie are good - though they have had some leash reactivity.  As most people know, pitbulls get a much more limited range of acceptable behavior and mistakes.  They need to be so much better than the average dog. And even if they do nothing "wrong" people will overact by just looking at them.

But I also lead some pitbull walks with a local meetup group and know that there are other dogs who have issues with dedicated owners working with them.  These folks need safe places where they can train and work with their dogs in a controlled environment. Most marinas in our area are city parks and are also under leash laws... Public parks are a great place to work on training in exciting environments at appropriate distances.  I just wish folks respected the rules.

I'm also surprised about the lack of respect for your neighbor.  Marinas are close communities.... sometimes you are relaxing in your living room with your neighbor relaxing in their living room less than 10 feet away.  And pretty much everytime you leave your boat, you run into someone.  So in this sort of environment, it's surprising when folks don't see and respect the impact they have on others.

Thoughts? Any ideas how to deal with the non-leashers?


  1. I'm sorry I don't have an easy answer. If I did, I'd probably become rich writing a book about it. :)

    We just try to be very vigilant in watching loose dogs at a distance. And I rely on Honey's body language to tell me how cautious I need to be.

    However, if you're really concerned about a loose dog harming yours, putting your dog behind you and tossing treats on the ground is recommended by Dr. Patricia McConnell. She released a video recently that showed how well it worked.

    I think it's a culture thing. You'll find loose dogs in some marinas or neighborhoods and not in others.

    We're currently in Beaufort, SC and nearly every dog is leashed. The one who isn't is a perfectly behaved pit bull who has eyes for no one but his person. :)

  2. Hi Pam... thanks for commenting. I just saw your post on your blog ( about this topic and I'll be following the comments. I have read about Dr McConnell's idea, but haven't seen it. I've not been worried about mine being harmed, but more offleash dogs getting mine excited. Fortunately Tack and Clewie are social and regularly get to play, so when they see dogs running around, they want to play and get excited. If I have both, they feed off of each other and we're still working on "not spazzing" when they want to romp with a leash free dog. So, it's my training that gets hurt.

    When we were in Mexico, we kept Matey (our previous dog) on leash and just about every other dog we saw that season was off leash (of course, it's Mexico). She was older (5yo) and if one would follow up too closely, I'd just step in front of her and stomp my foot and tell the dog to go home. Of course they wouldn't understand, but I would point and it worked (not sure if it's "right"). We didn't have a single issue and Matey came to find comfort being on leash if she got nervous. So much so that after our return if she was offleash romping with another dog and I thought she looked nervous, I just had to hold up her leash and click it and she'd some running to me.

    SC sounds great and one day we might explore the east coast. And that's a good point and reminder about watching their body language. Having two dogs is new to me... but now I guess it's a little over a year that we've had two dogs - but it still feels new. Though it is getting easier ;-) We've improved a lot over the last year.

  3. Oh man!! This topic drives me batty! Don't know how I missed your post, sorry!
    Ziva is friendly with other dogs too, but she has a little bit of leash reactivity - depends on how the other dog is behaving. A calm dog doesn't set her off, a crazy psycho high energy dog triggers her response. I think it has to do with when she was a puppy she was attacked by a mastiff.
    We've been working really hard on it though, and as long as we get a good introduction she is great with other dogs. We even did doggy daycare for a while and she made tons of friends! But I feel your pain, having pitties means you're held to a higher standard due to breed reputation sadly.

    I've had lots of close calls and more than I'd like to count encounters with terribly mannered off leash dogs. I've had your typical moron shouting, "my dog is friendly!" as they come running up as i'm sprinting the other direction yelling back, "mine is not!". Doesn't always work.

    I finally started carrying pepper spray a couple years ago, if your mutt is going to run up on me and endanger myself and my dogs he's going to get a full face of the stuff. Contrary to popular belief it doesn't cause any permanent damage but it does leave a lasting impression. You just need baby soap to wash it out, it won't hurt the dogs. You can also pick up a dog citrus spray, but it won't work against an actual aggressive attack.

    Good job training! Keep it up!

  4. Thank for the feedback... and I do have an update. I had a discussion with the offender that I was speaking about and he was surprisingly receptive. I explained how we both want to live here (in the marina) happily..... we both love our dogs who want to play. But I'm not as comfortable with him in breaking the law and letting Clewie run free in the marina. I asked him to please be aware of us and give us space as we pass. There are plenty areas where as long as he kept his dog near him and away from us (large grassy areas), we could pass freely. But on narrow parts of the sidewalk, please leash up.

    Fortunately he has really changed his behavior since i posted this 4 months ago. He's leashing up - but with a flexi (which is still not legal in my city) --- that's a whole other pet peeve... But at least be's trying and being aware of us which is better than before.

    That doesn't change the rest of the people though. And our marina is still horrible at reminding their berthers - they always look the other way. Which leaves me being the crazy lady as i was the other day while out for a jog with Clewie when a little dog saw her and took a bee line for her..... Fortunately I was super confident and got between Clewie and the other dog shouting "LEASH!" to the owner who was clueless as they acted surprised about the concept. Clewie didn't react thankfully and we jogged on.... as i looked back I saw they were leashed up. But geesh - this isn't a good plan to change behavior.

    I did think about using pepper spray. I'm also looking into hiking in a permitted area in which they charge a small fee - I hear it is less crowded. But this doesn't change the marina - which we live and therefore walk in most often...