4 min read

How to Deal with a Neighbor Who Doesn't Leash Their Dogs


By Tim Falk

Published: 05/27/2021, edited: 08/10/2021

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Published: 5/27/2021
It’s a situation many pet parents dread. You’re taking your dog for a walk (on a leash, of course) when, out of nowhere, an unleashed dog charges towards them. Sure, that four-legged stranger could be perfectly friendly, wonderfully trained, and just a big softie, but you don’t know that. 

Not only must you deal with the uncertainty of what the other dog is going to do, but you also have to worry about how your own dog is going to react. And if they’re a recent rescue that’s been poorly socialized, for example, or they simply don’t get on well with other dogs, their reaction could cause a big problem.

Unfortunately, it’s a situation many of us have encountered far too often. So if your neighbor refuses to leash their dog, what can you do? How can you keep your dog (and theirs) safe from harm?

Keep reading for some simple tips on how to resolve what can be a very difficult situation.

Talk to your neighbor

Having a friendly conversation with your neighbor should always be your first port of call in this situation. It can be a daunting prospect and it may well be awkward, but this is the first step towards solving the issue.

The most important thing to remember is to be polite. While the fact that your neighbor is happy to let their dog roam the street freely may make you angry and even afraid, there’s no need to let things get out of hand. Remember, you need to continue living next door to this person for the foreseeable future, so stay calm and keep it civil.

It’s also important to not be too aggressive in your approach. Instead of coming across as bossy and rude, ask nicely if they can leash their pooch and explain why it’s so important that their dog is leashed when not in a fenced area.

“Don’t worry, he’s really well trained.” “But she’s only being friendly.” “It’s OK, he doesn’t bite.” There’s a good chance you’ll hear one or more of these sentences, or something similar, from your neighbor in response. Try to point out that even if their dog is the gentlest, best-trained pooch this side of Lassie, that doesn’t mean letting them off-leash is a safe approach. Even if your dog doesn’t react aggressively or fearfully, others might — and that’s before we even consider other dangers like traffic or wildlife.

The aim is to make them see that the safety benefits of keeping their dog leashed far outweigh any potential negatives. If you take a friendly approach and if they’re willing to listen, hopefully you’ll be able to help them understand why they need to change their habits.

Know the leash laws where you live

Another issue you can raise with your neighbor is the simple fact that keeping their dog leashed is the law. Check the leash laws in your area first, but it’s highly likely they’ll face a fine for letting their pet get around in public without a leash.

Once again, do this gently. Instead of threatening them with the prospect of a fine, make sure they’re aware that these laws do exist. So even if common sense won’t get them to change their ways, maybe the prospect of a fine or having to deal with the authorities will.

Avoiding the area

For some people, simply avoiding the neighbor and their off-leash dog may not be an option. But if possible, you might like to consider ways you can keep your pup away from the roaming Rex. This could mean driving a few streets away before heading out for a walk, or just mixing up your route so that you avoid the property in question. Ensuring that your own yard is securely fenced will also help to keep your pup safe.

Yep, this can be really frustrating — after all, why should you be the one to make sacrifices if you’ve done nothing wrong? But if it means keeping your dog safe and helping to reduce their stress, it may be the best thing to do until the neighbor comes to their senses.

Consider your other options

If you’ve tried all other avenues and your neighbor is still refusing to leash their dog, it may be time to report them. No one likes being a snitch, and you don’t want to run the risk of escalating the situation further, but sometimes, there really is no other option.

If they’re not willing to abide by the leash laws, you can report them by getting in touch with your local animal control department. Having photographic evidence to back up your claims can help.

Finally, it’s also important to remember that while what other dogs (and their humans) do is beyond your control, you can have an influence on how your dog behaves. So take steps to train and socialize your dog, like teaching a reliable recall and trying to improve your pup’s social skills when meeting other dogs. It won’t solve the problem of unleashed dogs, but it will help reduce the chances of a negative outcome the next time you encounter a dog off-leash.

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