It was funny reading posts this morning about clueless dog owners over at Agility Nerd and Dogliness as I had my own run in with idiocy this morning. Actually I have lots of run ins with idiocy because I swear Boulder is idiot dog owner capitol of the world. Rule number one of owning a dog in Boulder-whatever you or your dog does, you are never wrong, it's always the other guy's fault. Could be due to the high density of rich people with huge senses of overentitlement. Could also be due to the 'western' mentality of I can do whatever the hell I want and if you try to tell me otherwise you're a fascist. I'm always amazed when I go home to the Chicago burbs and people with dogs will go so far as to stop and step off the sidewalk to let me pass. Shocking!!!
I could go on for days about what I've encountered. My absolute favorite is the runner lady with the Golden Retriever. I had 2 of my dogs and she was running toward me with her huge, lunging Golden Retriever on a flexi. The trail was easily wide enough for 4 people to walk side by side but she refused to reel in her dog and it was lunging straight for us across the whole trail. I pulled off the trail and then some, put my dogs in a sit, dispensed treats for them sitting calmly and hoped for the best. Clueless lady did nothing to control her dog and it charged us, pulling so hard it pulled her over and she landed flat on her face. She dropped the flexi when she fell and it retracted toward the dog scaring the crap out of it and sending it fleeing down the trail with the flexi skittering behind. I fought back the urge to laugh and asked her if she was o.k. 'NO!', she replied in an angry and accusatory tone because like I said if you own a dog in Boulder it's never your fault. She so badly wanted to blame it on me and I'm sure in her head I was totally to blame. Well, sorry stupid angry lady but I've now lost all desire to help you. I waited to make sure she was able to get up and walk and then I went on my way, snickering under my breath.
I'm sorry if that sounds bad but usually I'm the one bearing the brunt of these types of encounters. I've had a dog need emergency surgery from a bite wound from a Chow that ran off my neighbor's property as we walked past on the sidewalk. I so wish we'd reported him to Animal Control because he still let the dog go unleashed. Strummer, who was on leash, got bit by an off leash dog on an Open Space trail. Did the owner stop, leash his dog and leave because clearly his huge white German Shepherd does not play nicely with others? Nope, he said 'Sorry' and kept right on going. That's the second rule of being a Boulder dog owner. All you have to do is say 'sorry' and you're relieved of all personal responsibility for whatever happened or may happen due to your negligence.
Like I said, I could go on for pages and pages but in the interest of not turning this into the bitchiest post ever here are some ways I've learned to deal. For off leash dogs that charge us I try to remain calm because if I get overemotional it only worries my dogs more. Usually I don't even bother yelling at the owner because I know they can't and/or won't do anything even if I tell them my dogs are unfriendly and the yelling only upsets my dogs. I'll deal directly with the oncoming dog, yelling 'No' or 'Ah' in a firm, loud voice. At the same time I'll try to get my dogs behind me and step toward the oncoming dog putting physical pressure on it to stay back. If there's a stick nearby I'll grab it and wave it in a threatening manner. If there are rocks I'll throw them, sometimes the dog go chasing after the rocks. If that doesn't work I'll aim for the dog. Sometimes I'll toss kibble in hopes the dog will chase the kibble. Sometimes the flying kibble startles them enough make them stop their charge. Usually if I step in to control the situation my own dogs will step down and let me deal with it. For a while things were so bad I was carrying Direct Stop but I never used it so I can't say whether it works or not. I kept dropping the canister and the nozzle finally broke so it's time to buy a new one but I keep forgetting and it's a nuisance to carry. One other thing I do is wear a waist pack and loop the belt of the pack through the handles of the dog's leads. That way I don't have to worry about them pulling the leash out of my hand (Lola did this once in pursuit of a squirrel or something) plus I have hands free for throwing things and wielding sticks or even just waving my arms if no sticks are available. Note, these are things that I do, some of them might not be a safe/wise choice in some situations with some dogs so proceed at your own risk (can you tell I work in a liability laden industry rife with lawyers hoping to sue my ass?).
Most of the time I don't deal with the owner until after the other dog is not in danger of harming or inciting my dogs. I'm a non-confrontational type person and if I'm out for a walk or run the last thing I'm looking for is a fight but I've taken to reading people the riot act because I don't want to lose trail access due to their idiocy/lack of respect and frankly after years and years of it my patience is short. I doubt my hassling makes them change their behavior but my hope is that they'll take it somewhere else so they don't run into that crazy bitch again.