View Full Version : Dog owners... need etiquette advice
05-11-2007, 10:43 AM
I have never owned a dog, so I am unclear about the feelings and etiquette is this situation. My 2 1/2 year old daughter has realized she can open the gate to our neighbor's back yard, where they often have their dog, thus letting the dog run free through the neighborhood. This has happened maybe twice in the past 9 months or so and the wife has put a bungee cord around the gate which DD2 cannot reach, but for whatever reason, they don't always use the cord.
Anyway, yesterday afternoon, DD2 opened the gate and I caught the dog a minute or two later and put him back. When the neighbor came home (just the husband, not the friendlier wife), I told him and said the gate was now bungeed. The first (and only) sentence out of his mouth? "PLEASE tell her not to do that" said while shaking his head and hands in an aggravated manner. I was ticked and said something. Like I *haven't* told her not to do this?
So, what is the proper etiquette here? Do they bear the responsibility to always use the bungee cord, or to just politely say, "Glad you caught her"? Do I need to drop whatever I am doing to glue my eyes to DD whenever she is on that side of the house? Do I need to punish DD when she does it?
ETA: Well, the answers are almost entirely consistent, so I doubt this will change anything, but the gate is on a small side lawn adjoining our property. It is less than two feet from our own gate to our fenced back yard, so DD is often within inches of the gate and full sight of the dog while going to and from our own back yard. That's why it's such familiar territory to her.
I can absolutely bungee the gate when DD is outside, but would you all as dog owners be irritated that a neighbor was touching your property?
Also, the other time I know DD let the dog out, I talked to the neighbor, got a dog treat, and the girls and I went through the neighborhood until we caught the dog. We didn't just not 'fess up nor not remedy it. I dimly feel there was another time, but if there was, it must have been resolved immediately before the dog even left the yard. So three times in about 9 months.
05-11-2007, 10:51 AM
I think you need to have your eyes glued to DD when she's over near there, and punish her (well, time out, or whatever you usually do as punishment) if she opens it. I have a dog, and I'd be real ticked if the neighbors child kept opening the gate. Obviously your DD is too young to understand, but that's why you need to be on top of it. I hope this doesn't sound harsh, because I don't mean it to, but I am in agreement with the dog owner on this one. It's not really his responsibility to have to bungee his own gate because someone else is opening it up.
05-11-2007, 10:56 AM
Why not just check for the bungee each and every time before letting your DD anywhere near the gate?
05-11-2007, 11:05 AM
Sorry but I would be very annoyed if I were your neighbor. I think you need to keep a closer watch on DD, devise a better solution to keep her away from the gate or ensure the gate is bungeed. Can you see whether the bungee cord is in use? It sounds like you can put it on if it's not in use, is that right? If so, can you check it when you go out and make sure it's on so this issue doesn't happen?
I don't know the specifics of your neighborhood or the dog but, as a dog owner, I would be concerned that my dog could get lost or injured if let out or liability issues could arise if my dog was being let out when I wasn't home. I think they have a legitimate gripe but it sounds like there's an easy way to fix it.
05-11-2007, 11:36 AM
I agree with the pp, If I was the dog owner I would be pretty mad too. I think they took responsibility for their animal by having it inside a fence and it is your responsibility to make sure your DD stays away from it.
Is your DD old enough that you could explain that the dog will get hurt if she opens the gate? If not, I might just put her in a "time out" for a minute if she does it again.
I'm guessing your neighbors don't have small children :)
05-11-2007, 12:00 PM
I agree with everyone who says you need to take care of it the best you can on your end. My parents were watching my dog, a little shih tzu, while I was out of town, who was like my baby (before my human babies), and somehow their gate got left open and he got hit by a car and died. I was traumatized. From that time on, I've made sure that all of our gates have locks on them and that they are always locked. So I think they should do everything to make sure that their dog can't get out of their gate because things happen, but if you can help prevent one of those "things," you definitely need to do everything in power to do so. If I were you, I'd probably get an extra bungee cord and if they forget to put it on, I'd just put it on for them as long as my DD was going to be outside.
05-11-2007, 12:00 PM
Im going to agree with the other posters this one is on you. I would be REALLY upset if a neighborhood child left my dog out( especially more than once). Not only could the dog be killed but it could bite someone. You need to make sure she stays away from the gate.
The dog may be nice but it could also bite your child some dogs are very protective of their yard.
05-11-2007, 12:32 PM
Oh, I would try to be polite as the dog owner, but I would be absolutely seething if a neighbor's child let my dogs out of my yard. I spent 9.5K to get the yard securely fenced for the dogs and all the latches are at adult level only. And quite frankly, I would padlock all the gates after the first incident. But I would likely be barely speaking to the neighbor if the child kept doing it.
Now that said, my dogs are never out when I am not home. Still, DS could be napping and the dogs would be outside on a nice day. That would be a disaster, especially since my Shiba Inu would take off and I'd have a lot of trouble catching her.
05-11-2007, 12:56 PM
I would be irritated if it were my dog. BUT you can also bet I'd be investing in a better/higher lock. What kind of latch is it?
05-11-2007, 01:03 PM
Just to be sure, this gate is on their property, and is theirs - it is not connected or is any part of your yard? If not, then you should be extra viligent of your dd whenever she is anywhere near that side of the yard. She's little, but that doesn't make tampering with their gate (property) okay. If the dog were to escape and come to any harm, I imagine they'd be within their rights to hold you responsible if vet bills or city fines were incurred. My dear old dog was hit by a car after escaping our yard one day, so I'm especially sensitive to this type of thing. Good luck!
05-11-2007, 01:24 PM
Also, being a dog owner and having a 2 year old I can completely understand both sides. A peace offering that I might consider would be to speak with the wife (the nicer of the two), again apologize and explain that you are trying to teach your DD not to touch the gate (blah,blah,blah) and offer to purchase a child proof latch that your DH could install for them. Just one of those stainless steel ones they sell at HomeDepot that could be placed about DD's reach.
05-11-2007, 01:38 PM
Simply speaking, it's absolutely your responsibility to keep your DD off their property and touching their stuff.
They have gone above and beyond what is normally expected to safely secure their dog. I would be aggravated if I were your neighbor, too.
It sounds like they are not the nicest neighbors but that is not a crime. The fault is yours, if your dd is on their property and letting out their dog.
I agree that your neighbors have met their pet owners' responsibility by fencing their yard and keeping their gate latched. It's a great danger for the dog and for your daughter if she goes over to open the gate. You never know what a child might do that could provoke an otherwise friendly dog to bite. And that dog could just take off and get hurt or hurt someone else.
In your situation, I would explain to my kid how it is dangerous and opening the gate is not allowed. I would discipline my own kid if she went and did it again. I don't think 2.5 years is too young. I started doing the time out thing for purposefully doing things that I had already explained were dangerous at around 2 years.
I do think the PP's idea to offer to buy a new childproof latch for the gate is a nice gesture.
05-11-2007, 01:50 PM
Honestly, Karen, I would *flip* if that happened to one of my dogs. Your neighbour sounds pretty restrained, because I don't think I would've been that calm if it happened to me. (Hell, I have a problem with the neighbourhood 10yo boys skateboarding in my driveway, but that's another thread.)
If one was to get out/run away/get hit by a car, you'd be looking at a serious problem. What if one of your neighbour's dogs got out and somehow bit a person or another animal? The dog owner is technically responsible (and dogs are listed on home owner insurance policies). I would also imagine that there are leash laws in effect in your community. You're exposing him to a huge liability, not to mention potential heartbreak. And should the dog get hit and survive, you're instantly looking at thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) of dollars in vet bills.
I know that if you're not an animal person you won't get it, but for those of us that have pets, they really are very much like children to us. My biggest fear is that one of them will get out and get hit by a car.
I can't imagine that your DD is fast enough that if you have an eye on her, you can't divert her attention from the fence. How is it that she's getting close enough to the gate to open it without you realising?
Maybe you should offer to put some sort of better lock on the gate, since your neighbours have certainly done all that they need to do to ensure their property is contained.
I know that this isn't what you wanted to hear, but take this opportunity to correct the matter before it gets irreparably out of hand.
ETA - yes, I think given the history, you DO need to drop whatever it is that you're doing when you see that your DD is heading over to that side of the house. It's pretty predictable that she can't resist the urge to open the gate.
05-11-2007, 02:14 PM
Yes, I think you bear the entire responsibility in the situation.
You already know that your DD wants to open the gate, so you need to do everything in your power to keep her from doing it:
-using the bungee when you see it undone
-watching her like a hawk when she's on that side of the yard
-punishing her (2.5 is not too young, IMO) or at least re-directing her if she goes near the fence
Because you already know what she's going to do - she is obsessed with the dog. WWYD if your daughter were 8? Would you still consider it their obligation to "lock" the gate with the bungee cord? Honestly, 2.5 is old enough to learn not to do this, but until she stops doing it on her own, I think it is your responsibility.
05-11-2007, 02:19 PM
I would be very upset to be your neighbor too. Kids will be kids but that is their pet. And your DD letting out their dog when it is in THEIR yard behind a fence AND a gate just isnt right. You need to punish her and try to keep her away from the gate. You wouldnt let her open up some neighbors front door and just waltz right in would you? You should keep your eyes glued to her or not let her play on that side of the house.
Just my $.02.
05-11-2007, 02:31 PM
I just logged on and have not read any of the responses.
As "Mamma" to two dogs AND a toddler, I have to say that it is entirely your responsibility to keep your DD off their property and away from that gate. They have done their duty by fencing their backyard and, IMHO, have gone one step further by even attempting to deter your DD with the sometimes-used bungee cord.
I do not know how you "punish" your DD but whether it's a lost privilege, a time out, etc. she needs to understand that the gate is absolutely off limits. The issues are both safety (no matter how darling the dog) and that it's just not her property.
Best of luck to you - I know how hard it is to explain barriers to little ones!
05-11-2007, 02:34 PM
while i TOTALLY understand whatever everyone is saying here...
if i were the dog owner and your kiddo let my pooch out and YOU put my pooch back, i wouldn't care at all.
but i have two friendly labs who don't bite. (well, tyler will bark scary style. but only if provoked.) my kids CONSTANTLY let my dogs out. and while it drives me crazy, and i am embarrassed when my neighbors bring them back for me, my neighbors are SO NICE about my dogs running rampant in the neighborhood. i am astonished by their kindess, really. strangers will walk my dogs to my house on a leash (if a kid lets them out and i don't realize it- a bit harder to always catch them when you have two kids and two dogs.)
i lock my front door so kids can't let the dogs out while i am in a different room, but when folks come over, they let them out by accident all the time. it doesn't make me mad.
i latch my gates, but kids let them out all the time (kids who are my guests, i mean) and it doesn't make me mad.
and if a random kid opened my gate, i would just get a better gate.
maybe it is just me. or maybe it is having two kids and two dogs. or maybe it is having such nice, kid friendly, dog friendly neighbors. but it just doesn't trouble me.
and actually, my neighbors dog is CONSTANTLY in my yard, even "stealing" random things off my porch sometimes. doesn't bother me AT ALL.
maybe it is the medication i am on??? ;)
05-11-2007, 02:36 PM
I really like this approach - it is your responsibility to keep her away from their gate, but by being proactive you may wind up with a safer backyard for your DD to play in.
Is your yard fenced as well? Just trying to picture the layout. We don't have a fence around our yard so my 2 1/2 year old is supervised the entire time he's outside.
Depending on the latch they have on the gate already, you could offer to buy them a padlock. We padlock our gate to protect our dog.
Also, teach your DC to never approach a dog without getting permission from the dog's person first. Teach them to never run up to or away from a dog but instead to walk slowly without a lot of hand gestures. Never approach a dog that is eating or sleeping. Be close to your DC around dogs as ears and tails are irrisistible. Others may have more dog/child safety ideas. Even kids raised with dogs may forget these rules - we are always watching the interaction between our dog and DS.
eta: spelling - still not sure I have irrisistible correct.
05-11-2007, 03:16 PM
I would be furious if my neighbor's DC let my dog get loose. Especially if their mother knew her DC opened the gate- and not just one time.
Wouldn't you be upset if someone left your front door open and your DC got out?
I probably would have reacted exactly the same way as your neighbor did. I wouldn't want to worry about coming home from work and finding out that my neighbor's kid let my dog loose and he got hit by a car. Hell, I would even expect you to pay for the vet bill. So, rather than be saddled with a monstrous bill, pay a little more attention to your DD.
I'm sure you've told her that she shouldn't touch the bungee, but obviously it hasn't worked. Until it does, keep an eye on her, and make sure the dog doesn't get out.
05-11-2007, 03:26 PM
You have a Shiba Inu?! There's one at our local rescue that it took them over a year to catch, and are having an impossible time trying to place. They are such cool dogs!
Mom to Truman 11/01 and Eleanor 4/04
05-11-2007, 03:37 PM
I wouldn't be so sure that all your neighbors are fine with your dogs running loose. We have one neighbor who lets his dogs run free through the neighborhood and while I'm definitely a pet lover (have multiple pets), it irks me no end when I see the dogs "making deposits" all over the lawn my children play on and shooting in front of cars.
A friend told me it wasn't worth it to complain -- better to have a good relationship with your neighbors and all that ....
Sorry, this probably belonged in its own thread; I just wanted to give you another point of view.
05-11-2007, 03:41 PM
I would just check each time she's out there that the gate is locked. We do the same when we're at my parent's with the pool gate. It becomes habit - do a gate check and then DD can play out back.
I don't have a dog but I would be upset if my dog got loose. I guess I would also be putting a heavy duty lock on the gate as well!
05-11-2007, 03:47 PM
::I can absolutely bungee the gate when DD is outside, but would you all as dog owners be irritated that a neighbor was touching your property?::
When in doubt, ASK.
I'd suggest that you chat with your neighbor, apologize for the problems, and let them know that you are going to be much more watchful of your daughter. Then ask them if, just as an extra level of security, would they mind if you put the bungee cord on their gate sometimes?
But you have to accept a yes or no and still make sure that dog stays inside the fence. They will probably be fine with you bungeeing the gate, but if they say no, it's still on you to keep DD from opening the gate.
There's your summer project! Good luck. It's important for you to be successful at this, so get yourself fired up to achieve that goal. You can do it.
ETA: I see it's happened only 2 or 3 times in 9 months... it's still an inconvenience and risk for your neighbors. This is just going to be one of those things where you need to watch every time, even though the trouble has been infrequent.
05-11-2007, 03:51 PM
Honestly, I would be beyond furious. But I have issues about my property being MY property. And you darn well better believe that if something happened to my dog because of your child, you're looking at one heck of a lawsuit.
Not targeting you, Karen with that "you." Just you in general.
05-11-2007, 03:51 PM
"> I can absolutely bungee the gate when DD is outside, but would you all as dog owners be irritated that a neighbor was touching your property?"
I might be annoyed -- the ideal solution is your child simply doesn't touch my gate. Beyond that, depending on our relationship,I would either want you to fund a child-proof lock/latch, or I would welcome you to bungee the gate. I would probably wonder why you can't bungee your own gate to keep your dc in your yard... (don't really understand the side lawn setup, which would probably explain).
If my only options were between you on my property to bungee the gate, or your DC on my property to let me dog out -- for any owner who actually loves their dog, it's a no-brainer. Dogs are family. We don't want them to get hurt, or hurt others, any more than you want for your DC.
05-11-2007, 03:53 PM
Second that. I am actually a tad afraid of dogs, even ones I know. I don't want to be around when there is one loose and unsupervised.
05-11-2007, 03:57 PM
Can you lock your gate so she can't get to theirs'? I am still not clear on the set up.
05-11-2007, 04:10 PM
Just wanted to add another perspective.
When I was small, probably 7 or 8, I was at a party & left unsupervised with the family pet. I somehow aggravated the dog & it bit me in the face. So as a mother, in this situation I would be concerned about my 2.5 year old being unattended near the neighbors dog. You just never know what can happen, even if you think its a very friendly dog.
As a pet owner, I would also be annoyed if someone else's child let my pet out, especially if it happened more than once.
I am a huge animal lover and have two dogs of my own. It drives me INSANE when I see dogs running lose. I've seen too many dead pets on the side of the road.
I would be beyond furious if someone came to MY house and let my dogs lose. I think her neighbor showed incredible restraint, especially since it wasn't the first time.
05-11-2007, 04:14 PM
First, let me say that I am totally not trying to be mean or offensive. I'm trying to answer your questions honestly, since you did ask.
>I have never owned a dog, so I am unclear about the feelings
>and etiquette is this situation. My 2 1/2 year old daughter
>has realized she can open the gate to our neighbor's back
>yard, where they often have their dog, thus letting the dog
>run free through the neighborhood. This has happened maybe
>twice in the past 9 months or so and the wife has put a bungee
>cord around the gate which DD2 cannot reach, but for whatever
>reason, they don't always use the cord.
It is very scary for dog owners to have their pets let out by accident. I cannot tell you the fear I felt when I thought my kitty had gotten out last fall. What if he had gottne hit by a car? Or snatched by a coyote or eagle? It's heart wrenching.
>Anyway, yesterday afternoon, DD2 opened the gate and I caught
>the dog a minute or two later and put him back. When the
>neighbor came home (just the husband, not the friendlier
>wife), I told him and said the gate was now bungeed. The
>first (and only) sentence out of his mouth? "PLEASE tell her
>not to do that" said while shaking his head and hands in an
>aggravated manner. I was ticked and said something. Like I
>*haven't* told her not to do this?
He's probably very frustrated. Remember that his dog could have been killed by a car, lost, or bit a child, for which he'd be liable. And I must say, that at 2 1/2 your DD should be able to understand that certain things are off limits. I think what he meant to say was that you needed to make sure she didn't do it. Ever. Period.
>So, what is the proper etiquette here? Do they bear the
>responsibility to always use the bungee cord, or to just
>politely say, "Glad you caught her"?
As a pet owner, I would do my best to always use the bungee cord, but it's their gate. And they have the gate shut. You are responsible for your daughter, who is opening their gate.
Do I need to drop
>whatever I am doing to glue my eyes to DD whenever she is on
>that side of the house?
Do I need to punish DD when she does
That is up to you, since you asked, I would. And by punish I mean that I would simply not allow her to play over there if she continued to touch it. A few times of cutting play time short and I bet she'll figure out really quickly that the gate is off limits.
>ETA: Well, the answers are almost entirely consistent, so I
>doubt this will change anything, but the gate is on a small
>side lawn adjoining our property. It is less than two feet
>from our own gate to our fenced back yard, so DD is often
>within inches of the gate and full sight of the dog while
>going to and from our own back yard. That's why it's such
>familiar territory to her.
Yes, but the same aguement can be made for say the stove in the kitchen. But just because it's familiar doesn't mean you let her play with it, right? Tell her it's off limits and enforce it.
>I can absolutely bungee the gate when DD is outside, but would
>you all as dog owners be irritated that a neighbor was
>touching your property?
Not at all if it meant my dog and your kid would be safe.
>Also, the other time I know DD let the dog out, I talked to
>the neighbor, got a dog treat, and the girls and I went
>through the neighborhood until we caught the dog. We didn't
>just not 'fess up nor not remedy it. I dimly feel there was
>another time, but if there was, it must have been resolved
>immediately before the dog even left the yard. So three times
>in about 9 months.
I know you are doing your best (we all are!!!) and I know it's frustrating, but you MUST keep your DD from messing with their dog. They have him behind a fence, so you need to do your part and teach DD to not let him out. Good luck!
05-11-2007, 05:26 PM
As someone whose dog got loose, got hit by a car, and needed about $3000 in surgery, I can kind of understand his reaction. I would have been very upset if I had my dog restrained in a yard and someone let him out. It can be a very costly (emotionally and financially) mistake to have a dog let loose.
05-11-2007, 06:28 PM
I'd be livid too if a neighborhood child was repeatedly letting my dog out of the yard (your neighbor's response was MUCH nicer than mine would have been, even as the mother of young kids). But I wouldn't mind if I had a system to keep my gate closed, and the child's parent engaged the system as necessary to keep their child from letting out my dog.
If you can't keep close enough tabs on her to keep her from letting the dog out, then it is IMO your responsibility to go over and bungee the gate (using your own bungee if theirs is for some reason missing) every single time BEFORE you let your daughter out to play.
05-11-2007, 07:04 PM
i don't disagree with you, Ceepa. that is why i said, "i am astonished by their kindess, really."
it really EMBARASSES me to have them running loose. i do NOT think it is appropriate for them to run loose. and i do go after them to bring them home- neighbors have brought them back when 1) a kid let them out when i was attending to something else and didn't know they were out or 2) when they ran off quickly and i couldn't chase them due to the needs of my own children. (sorry, but i am not going to leave my two kids alone in the house sleeping while i run all over the neighborhood after my dogs. what if one of my KIDS got out looking for me and HE got hit by a car? sorry. but my KIDS are more important than my DOGS.)
oh- and when my dogs do run into the neighbors' yards in my cul-de-sac (very low traffic, BTW) i ALWAYS clean up any mess the leave behind. just happened today, in fact. and as soon as DH came home to keep the kids safe, i went straight over and cleaned it up.
so really, i agree. dogs shouldn't run loose, kids shouldn't let them out. but because karen returned the pet, knowing it was her responsibility to do so, i wouldn't be upset. just wanted to share that this one pet owner has a different attitude.
05-11-2007, 07:05 PM
i'm not a dog owner/lover, and while i understand it's easy to be frustrated by the perception that perhaps they aren't doing all they can (by not bungeeing), i guess i'm still confused. totally not trying to judge, so if i'm misunderstanding completely, please excuse. from the description, this sounds like a huge safety issue for your DD _and_ the dog.
if your daughter can get to where the fence is and let the dog out without you seeing, doesn't this mean your DD can get out too? what am i missing here?
even if that's not the case, i'd still be leary of letting my DS out in a situation where he could potentially get into an unfamiliar dog's territory. dogs who live with young children tend to become their protectors i think, but dogs (even the nicest ones) who aren't familiar with your DD might very well pose a real safety hazard to her.
we had family friends growing up where the oldest son (4 at the time) had to have multiple cosmetic surgeries and lost partial vision in his left eye from a dog maul. this was an otherwise very well behaved, loveable, family dog (female yellow lab) who's owners had two young daughters the same age. the little boy stumbled backwards and lost his balance and steped on the dog and the dog panicked. any animal can act out in aggression when it perceives a threat.
i know i struggle to curb my urge to raise my son in 'nerf world' (as my DH calls it), but i guess i'd take it on myself to be more cautious in this case as much for my DS's sake as the dogs (sorry dog lovers). i like pp's suggestions to proactively ask the owners if you can contribute additional assistance by bungeeing each time or providing a childproof latch for the gate. http://www.hooverfence.com/woodfence/magna.htm
Sam 5/19/05 How lucky I am that you chose me.
05-11-2007, 09:04 PM
I am still completely sratching my head over your question about who bears the responsiblilty here....
#1 Nick 11-18-04
#2 Kate 04-26-06
05-12-2007, 12:19 AM
>Do they bear the
>responsibility to always use the bungee cord?
No. They have a fence that contains their dog just fine.
>Do I need to drop
>whatever I am doing to glue my eyes to DD whenever she is on
>that side of the house? Do I need to punish DD when she does
Yes, you do.
DS born at home 12/03
Breastfeeding After Reduction is possible! www.bfar.org
05-12-2007, 04:46 AM
Yup, she came into my rescue 3 years ago and we ended up keeping her, although I had a lot of applications on her before we made the decision. She took off once when I was 5 months pregnant and I was already huge. Previous adopters came to visit with their dog and she got out past their feet. We all ended up chasing her around the neighborhood. Finally, she let me within 5 feet of her and I just sat down on the grass and offered her some hiney scratches. She was tired and backed up to me to get her scratches. I scratched her for a few minutes, then made a dive for her collar. I was so relieved to have caught her.
Do you have a link to the Shiba's petfinder page or adoption page? I'd love to see her.
05-12-2007, 06:37 AM
>I can absolutely bungee the gate when DD is outside, but would
>you all as dog owners be irritated that a neighbor was
>touching your property?
It would be irritated if you bungeed or locked my gate without asking me. Honestly I would tell anyone who asked me that they just need to keep thier child off my property. I think another posted also mentioned it but their gate works fine until you DD opens it.
05-12-2007, 02:33 PM
Like the others said, it's your responsibility, not theirs to keep your DD from openign the gate. Pets are like children too -- would you like it if someone kept opening your gate and your DD kept running out of the yard? Probably not. Apologize to your naighbor profusely, and keep an eye on your DD and don't allow her to touch the gate.
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