Pet Etiquette: Dogs Belong on Leashes

Whether you have a docile or hyperactive dog, it's proper etiquette and common courtesy to keep your dog on a leash. 

Richie Frieman,
July 9, 2014

Since I am Modern Manners Guy, it's obvious that I'm a lover of all things mannerly, but what you might not know about me is that I’m also a dog lover at heart. There hasn't been a time in my life so far when a dog wasn't living under my roof.

Growing up, I had a dog named Buster, a scruffy terrier, and then ten years ago I bought my own dog – a hyperactive beagle named Camden. Both of my dogs are loyal companions, but Buster and Camden behave in dramatically different ways. Buster I could trust not to leave my side, indoors and out.  I'd often take him hiking, and he’d never leave the path even without a leash. Camden, however, sees the outside as “freedom,” and if I didn’t have him on a leash, he would bolt in a matter of seconds. In fact, one time he darted after a squirrel so fast that the leash slipped out of my hand, and I had to sprint for ten minutes to chase him down. Needless to say, I learned that from then on, whenever I took Camden out, he’d always have to be on a leash.

Sadly, many people do not follow the same leashing rules, and whether they realize it or not, they are committing a huge social faux pas. 

Whether you have a Buster (docile) or a Camden (hyperactive), it’s always proper to have your dog on a leash. Any pet owner or pet expert will agree with me on this one (unless you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, in which case you are exempt from the leash rule). But assuming we all don’t own rolling acres, we’ll have to abide by this very simple rule. In fact, I firmly believe that people who don’t have their dogs on leashes do so out of pure arrogance because they believe their dogs are above leashes. Wait, did you say arrogance… about dog owners? Yes, arrogance.

Think about it. In every situation where a dog is not on a leash, the owners are not taking into consideration the other people around them. They are lost in their own world, concentrating on their own needs and thoughts, where it’s cool for dogs to roam the streets as if “man’s best friend” were an actual human best friend. These people think their dogs are too superior for common leashes, and that is the definition of arrogance. I love Camden more than anything – in fact we call him our four-legged son – but I know his flaws.  All dogs – even the sweetest, tiniest of breeds – still need to know their own boundaries, and that's done by walking them on a leash.   

Here’s one perfect example of someone who thinks his “style” is more important than the fact his dog cannot be trusted without a leash.  In the city last month, a twenty-something hipster (his handlebar mustache gelled to perfection) was walking down the street with his miniature Doberman Pincher, who donned a spiked collar, of course, but no leash. Even if his dog would never leave his side, at any moment another dog could have come by and hurt his dog. Or as the sidewalk got crowded, the dog could have been stepped on since it was a delicate breed that easily goes unnoticed. But, hey, it looks cool to have your toy dog rockin’ a cool collar and no leash in the city, right?

As another example, just last week, I saw a friend of mine from Minnesota who was in town visiting his parents. We agreed to meet at his parents' house, which has a long driveway that passes by two other homes. As I was walking up the driveway, a fluffy Collie from a house next door started barking at me, and then it darted in my direction full speed - again without a leash.  It totally caught me off guard, but I assumed it would stop at the edge of the grass due to an electric fence, since I saw no physical fence on the property. I mean, of course these owners would have some sort of tactic to keep their maniac dog from charging at people who pass by their house. I couldn’t have been the first person that this dog approached over the years.

Well, it turns out they did not have an electric fence installed, and Lassie came at me like I just stole her favorite dog toy. And yes, my mannerly friends it scared the crap out of me. So I did what any other 35-year-old grown man would do when a 22-pound dog comes at you, guns a blazin’ -- I took off as fast as I could. Luckily, Lassie stopped a few yards behind me, but I was furious! How could someone be so arrogant as to think their dog was so well behaved that it didn't need a leash? How could the owners think their dog was above being restrained?

What riled me up even more was that I had planned to bring my two-year-old son with me for the visit. Fortunately, he ended up staying at home for naptime, but for the rest of the walk to my friend’s house, I kept thinking about how panicked my son would have been had a dog come charging at us, teeth barred. The incident could have left him traumatized for a very long time! And once again, I realized this person, and everyone else who doesn’t use a leash, simply doesn’t care about the safety or mindset of others.

Dogs are meant to be on a leash, or at the very least, kept in a safe enclosure when they are not in the house. I can't promise you that your dog will not be mad at you because you make them wear a leash outside, but what I can say for certain is that you are going to have a giant storm of complaints coming your way if your furry little friend bites someone walking by.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!

Dog image courtesy of Shutterstock

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