Ethics Alert For Clueless Dog Owners: The Walk Is For The Dog

Hey! Here's an idea! BITE HER!

Hey! Here’s an idea! BITE HER!

I promised myself I would write this the next time I saw a young woman in my neighborhood, fit, with earbuds, jogging along briskly as her dog desperately tried to keep up while eying enviously my dog, who is allowed to sniff the plants, mark his territory (aka “the world”), enjoy life, and be a dog instead of a pull-toy.

The freedom to do this  is why dogs get excited about walks.They also like the companionship of their masters, at least when said master is paying some attention to them. They like being talked to, and looked at. I know this will come as a shock to my neighbor, but they do not like being dragged on a leash and forced to trot unstopping, while their self-absorbed owner listens to Adele.

I know dogs aren’t the most edifying conversationalists, but really, if you can’t spare them your full attention for a few short walks a day, don’t get a dog. What my neighbor does is animal cruelty  disguised as a fitness regimen that benefits dog and master.

The look in her dog’s eyes as it passed, panting, collar tugging, broke my heart. The pained expression communicated to my dog, “I’ll love to stay a minute and say hello, but GHHHAHHHG” and off he went. No pausing, peeing, or playing for him. His owner can’t spare the time.

She’s an asshole.

Next time, I’m going to block her way, make her take out her buds, and tell her off.


Filed under Animals, Daily Life

40 responses to “Ethics Alert For Clueless Dog Owners: The Walk Is For The Dog

  1. Steve-O-in-NJ

    …so should she call the cops on you, introduce you to her black belt skills, or come looking for you the next day with her husband?

    • I’ll chance it. Her dog is bigger, but mine is a Jack Russell. He carries a shiv.

      • deery

        I think Jack is far more likely to get maced or pepper-sprayed than anything else.

        Jogging with dogs for a few miles or so is perfectly fine, probably even beneficial for the higher-energy breeds. Of course not every breed should be taken jogging, but many can, and seem to enjoy it. Leave the jogger and her dog alone to their routine.

        • Patrice

          The problem, as I imagine it, is that her dog does not seem to be enjoying the jog. (Try saying THAT fast 3 times.) Some commenters here have talked about the fun they have running with their dogs. That’s great. But according to Jack, she’s not having any interactions with the dog, and she’s not noticing that the dog is not happy, because she’s focused on herself.

          • deery

            Besides an “envious look”, there wasn’t much to go on for the dog not enjoying the run, besides Jack’s on feelings on the matter. The pair were running, the jogger made sure her dog didn’t get distracted by another, and the two moved on. we have what, a 0-second interaction at most in which to pronounce that she is abusing her dog, not interacting with him, and that the dog is not enjoying himself? Suburban upper-class dogs tend to be some of the more spoiled, pampered creatures in existence. A nice jog for a few miles after his bathroom break would probably do him a lot of good.

            • Dogs are very expressive—anyone who is close to one knows that they can communicate distress, disappointment, excitement, pleasure, anger and many other emotions. This was not a happy dog, and most important, he was straining against the color, which was being pulled a little faster than he was comfortable going. The quotes around “envious look” are uncalled for.

        • Dragged on leashes isn’t running. If a dog likes to run, take him to a dog park, and let him run. On a leash, with an inattentive owner, a dog could drop dead and the jogger wouldn’t know until she felt the drag. Dogs, like people, don’t like being restricted by restraints.

        • crella

          I too, hate to see this. In the majority of cases, the dog looks miserable. A dog on a walk needs satisfaction of some kind…chasing a ball, finding a stick to bring you, peeing with freedom they don’t have in the house. Yes, dogs love to run, but run in short bursts that are self-motivated. Running for miles without stopping is a forced march going entirely against the dog’s nature. I had a wonderful Flatcoated Retriever until last May when he left us at the ripe old age ( for a Flattie) of 12 1/2. I walked him on a 10-meter long lead, coiled in my hand when necessary, let out full length for him to sniff, dig, and swim in the mountains behind our home. Part of his enjoyment was looping back frequently to touch base with me, bringing me a leaf or a branch, or to just snuggle and be off again. That’s a walk. This, on the other hand, doesn’t sound like fun at all for either dog or owner:

          “Run with your dog in a formal heel position, meaning she is at your side with her head or shoulder even with your hip. Keep the dog’s collar high on her neck, right under her chin and behind her ears. When the collar slips to the lower, stronger area of her neck, that gives her more control so stop and adjust it.”

          That’s the collar position for grooming and for other situations you need total control. The dog in a formal heel position for the entire walk is keeping the dog in control, looking pretty, and on its toes. That’s not recreational for the dog. The heel position and high collar position keep the dog ‘on’ for the entire walk, it can have no thoughts of its own, can take no enjoyable action of its own volition. It’s surely getting physical exercise, but no emotional enjoyment at all, nor the eye contact and feedback they live for. The dog in this situation is an exercise aid and nothing more.

          • The dog in a formal heel position for the entire walk is keeping the dog in control, looking pretty, and on its toes. That’s not recreational for the dog. The heel position and high collar position keep the dog ‘on’ for the entire walk, it can have no thoughts of its own, can take no enjoyable action of its own volition. It’s surely getting physical exercise, but no emotional enjoyment at all, nor the eye contact and feedback they live for. The dog in this situation is an exercise aid and nothing more.

            Exactly. Thank you.

          • deery

            Most of the dogs I see out running with their owners look like they are enjoying themselves to me I think a whole rant and possible confrontation based on a few seconds of (non) interaction with a given dog, much less a blanket indictment of the entire practice seems bit much.

            Owners of high energy breeds are specifically instructed to tire their dogs out as much s possible each day. Why not kill two birds with one stone? The dog uses the bathroom, gets some exercise, and usually some wandering time both before and after the run. The owner also gets a chore out of the way, as well as some needed exercise for herself. Many women joggers report feeling much more safe running with their dog, and getting much less harassment when they do so. It seems like a win/win situation to me.

            As we have no idea how the owner interacts with her animal during the other 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 30 seconds of the day, I think it is a huge stretch to call it abuse, or that she never interacts with her animal. You don’t have to pay rapt attention to your animal at all times. You really don’t. It is hardly abuse, and I hope the suggestion that Jack report the woman for animal abuse was made with tongue firmly in cheek.

            • Have you ever owned a dog, deery? It sure doesn’t sound like it. And telling someone to stop mistreating their dog is a necessary bit of intervention of the sort that I hve done before, as has my wife, more frequently with children. It doesn’t have to be a confrontation.

              • deery

                I have owned a dog in the past, a pit mix. We had a fenced-in backyard, and small children around, so it had plenty of time, space, and people to work her energy out. Not everyone who has a dog has that confluence of factors.

                Taking a dog out for a run is not mistreatment. Sometimes forcing a dog to do something it doesn’t want to do is not mistreatment or abuse either. Dogs are not people or children(*gasp!!!*, heresy, I know) Taking dogs out for a jog, depending on their health and breed, can often be quite beneficial for their state of mind, as well as overall household peace. Not letting your dog lag behind or stop and sniff another dog’s ass is no reason to be chewed out by some busybody stranger. The fact is, you have no idea what the relationship is between this woman and her dog, except for an instant snapshot Unless you have some real signs of abuse, leave this woman to her business.

  2. Patrice

    PLEASE follow through on your projected action! She’s a user. She uses her dog, and she probably uses people. Take a video. You might even want to report her to the local humane society.

    To be fair, I see parents (mostly mothers) walking their babies in strollers, paying no attention to the child, listening to their whatever on their electronic device, or talking to another parent, not interacting with the child. Such tragic list opportunities. In both cases.

    The dog deserves way better.

    • Patrice

      Make that “lost” opportunities. Can’t type.

    • Zanshin

      Also living in Holland, I have seen mothers and also grandmothers pushing babies in strollers, a mobile phone clamped between the left shoulder and the left ear crossing streets without even looking left and right for traffic; in effect using the stroller as a canary in the mine and/or a way to force traffic to stop.

      Babies deserve way better.

  3. No need to confront her, just put a nice big sign in your yard that reads…

    Dogs aren’t personal pull toys for joggers to abuse.


    Walk your dog and play with your dog separately so they can enjoy their life.

    P.S. If you dare to claim that they are a member of your family, then are you going to do the same “leash and drag” thing to your children?

  4. Rick M.

    I am a trail runner so the dog I have is in doggie delight. I have an occasional running partner who got a dog based on just the fun of having a dog out in the woods with us. My daughter will often go and she will bring her dog.

    The routine starts in the morning as they know around nine they’ll go in the truck and off to an area to run since I know every trail within 40 miles of my house.

    I see the poor pooches dragged along on a leash and feel for them. The dogs love the freedom to be just dogs. All our dogs respond to commands so there is zero problems.

  5. She may not realize she is pushing her dog to his limits, especially in hot weather. Fit human runners can outrun nearly any animal, including horses and dogs, in a long enough distance. She may assume because her dog is so much faster than she is that he can easily keep up, but he can’t cool himself as efficiently as she does, over the long haul.

    Fortunately for him, my dog’s owner can’t out run him…

    • I love considering humanity as a species. We’re kind of badass. We can eat things that can literally kill large portions of the animal kingdom, our stamina is basically unrivalled, we’re one of the only species that isn’t basically guaranteed a painful death if we break a leg, and to top it all off we’re intelligent. The next time you’re watching some sci-fi, and there’s an alien oozing acid or something, consider that this might be how an extraterrestrial sees you.

      • Good thing we invented civilization and houses…

        Since for the first 2 years of our lives our only real skill, when separated from our caretakers, is an unequaled ability to attract predators.

    • I agree. Surely, she is not aware of what her dog is going through. This is not cruelty but cluelessness (if it is in fact a fact that the dog is suffering…?). Nobody needs to tell her off. The blogger could have an amiable chat with her.

  6. TM

    I had a boxer that loved to run. I would run a 10K and the dog 20K since he was free to run ahead, back, mark, whatever.

  7. Lauren Larson

    With two Beagle mixes, I would dislocate a shoulder, at the least, if I tried to run (in a direction I chose) with them.

  8. Spartan

    All of this depends on the dog. Mine is pure muscle with a huge, deep chest. He needs to run. I just wish we could do it off leash because he drags me.

    Our next dog will be a lazy, couch potato dog.

  9. Wayne

    My sister used to have our dog pull her around while she was wearing roller skates. The dog which was a Weish Corgi and strong as a bull seemed to enjoy it. If he got tired or wanted to sniff around, she’d happily stop. No ear buds were worn by my sister.

  10. Other Bill

    Don’t come to Holland, Jack. Here I see any number of people every day who are riding their bikes with their dogs running along side, many if not most even at the end of a leash. Frankly, the dogs seem to think it’s just fine. The dogs seem pretty athletic. But tons of people also walk their dogs on and off leash. Most of the dogs are incredibly well trained and there’s a huge open area in the park nearby that’s pretty much a dog park where all the dogs are off leash and have a great time. There’s even a maintenance guy who is tasked with filling the holes the dogs dig.

    In short, I think it depends on the dog. That and “moderation is the key.”

    Figure out a way to engage your neighbor without annoying her. You catch more bees (or is it flies?) with honey. Lay on the Mediterranean charm.

  11. When I used to walk my (late) schnauzer, I would see people riding their bikes with dog in tow. That always struck me as a disaster waiting to happen.

    I must confess, though, that usually took a book along with me when walking my dog. I’d read a bit whilst she was sniffing or peeing or marking. I do believe she enjoyed the walks even during the summer when I had zero desire to stick my head out of doors.

  12. “…my dog, who is allowed to sniff the plants, mark his territory (aka “the world”), enjoy life, and be a dog instead of a pull-toy….”

    “…No pausing, peeing, or playing for him.”

    I agree with your article. Dogs want an interactive “pack” experience of exploration.

    However….let your dog relieve himself on my yard too much and you’ll be encouraged, vehemently, never to walk in front of my house again.

    We have 3 dogs, and a backyard large enough for them to handle business and run to their hearts’ content that when we go on walks they don’t have to piss and crap on every yard they pass.

    • You really have a problem with peeing on your yard?


        As I work in the landscape industry I know that this isn’t some random occurrence, but dog piss is practically a weed killer. Amusingly enough large dogs are less potent. It’s the small ones that burn a yard on first contact.

        As I said: “…let your dog relieve himself on my yard too much and you’ll be encouraged, vehemently, never to walk in front of my house again.” (Key qualifier emphasized so you can modify your incredulous response)

        Consideration runs multiple ways in this circumstance. I don’t see why you impose on someone else completely dissociated from the owner-dog relationship to aid in that person’s relationship with their dog. Good manner yes, obligation, no.

        • I really did miss the “too much.” I have never thought of a dog’s—in the case of Rugby by the time he reaches any yards—shot glass worth of liquid excrement a matter of consideration at all. I can’t exactly mop it up. (“Poop,” as Zarathustra famously said, “is something else.”) Luckily my dog, oddly for a male, prefers to pee on upright objects, not IN yards, and to poop under bushes, or in tall vegetation, as do I.

          From a Golden Rule perspective, almost every one of my neighbors has a dog, and everyone is sympathetic to a dog’s needs. The one guy who yelled at my wife as she passed by with Rugby that she better NOT let him use his lawn is an infamous jerk, and we don’t walk by his house—maybe he’s a landscaper too—-just to avoid having a cat thrown at us.

          Of course, when one’s own lawn has persistently looked like crap despite endless efforts to improve it, one tends to have contempt for the damn things.

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