He Is Friendly; Off-Leash Etiquette When Walking Your Dog

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He's Never Done That Before, posed by Basil, Tervuren, Monique Anstee's Belgian Shepherd Dog

Pavlov conditioned a dog to salivate at the ring of a bell. And I have been conditioned with full fear and adrenalin, to a simple phrase. 

"My dog is Friendly."

I have been conditioned because every time I hear this phrase, I am presented with a giant problem. I have a rude dog approaching quickly towards me, with an owner in denial. Their rose-coloured glasses can't get any rosier, and I truly believe they have persuaded themselves that their dogs are friendly rather than facing the cold hard facts that they allow their dog to behave this way. Generally the encounter is followed with "He has never done that before".

The piece that is misunderstood is that your dog's social etiquette is irrelevant to me. It is none of my business; we are complete strangers. My dog is on leash, therefore take the cue, and keep yours away. 

There are many reasons for a leash. Mine might be injured, under the weather, having a really bad day, or simply enjoying nature with me and has no care whether yours is friendly or not. It might not be my dog, or it might be a brand-new dog that I don't know how he will behave. However, we are total strangers to each other, and other than a polite 'Hello,' l do not owe you an explanation. Simply take my cue of my dog being on a leash, and keep yours away.

For every sweet, nice, well mannered dog that I have ever met - I have never been told they are friendly. I only hear this for the ones with their tails curled up high over their backs, with hackles up, standing as tall as they can (or stalking like a cat), rushing forward to their victims. 

If you feel yourself wanting to call out "He is Friendly" as you see your dog's bum galloping away from you towards his victim, please do your soul searching. 

Your adult dog should not be this interested in another adult dog. It is weird and is an insult to you; your dog thinks random strangers are more fun than you. Take this as motivation to really enjoy your dog on your walks. 

Use this time to connect and enjoy watching them being dogs. And please put the time into training them, so that not only can you and your dog enjoy your off-leash time, but so can everyone else who might not want to engage with you. 

Monique Anstee
Victoria, BC


thank you, wonderful. And no excuses and to why your/our dogs are on leashes. I love it. There are no bylaws here for dogs, and not only do we have to deal with ones who think we should let our dogs roam, but we have to put up with their dogs always loose, getting into garbage, jumping on our dogs, and pooping in our yard.

I am sure you have seen this, but on the far off chance you have not, this is a must read for all dog owners. You are not alone:

My basenji is leashed for a reason, he seems to think that dogs that are smaller than him are "chew toys"...I ensure that he's kept secure when an off-leasher comes charging at him...I wish all dog owners could read your post...

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