Dumb Ass Dog Owners

The off-leash dog ran down the hill like she was on fire.

Her person yelled her name impotently. She might as well have not been there for the attention the dog paid to her.

The object of the pup’s attention was a man walking his dog at the bottom of a long hill.

Running as fast as she could, the dog’s person only caught up after the two dogs met face to face.

It could have been awful.

Luckily, the person was walking with a calm and tolerant pit bull who forgave the adolescent dog for her rude manners. And the person himself was generous as well.

Who was this dumb ass dog owner who let her young and poorly trained dog off leash and then forgot to watch what was going on around her?

That dumb ass dog owner, my friends, was me.

Golden Retriever running in the woods.

Once I get running, no one can catch me. My ears give me extra lift.


Willfully Ignorant Or Just Stupid

I could recount several stories in which I was that dumb ass dog owner. There’s the time we let our sniffy hound Shadow off leash in a ball field.  While I was fighting with my husband about whether it was a smart idea or not, she slipped through the fence.

Or how about when I badly managed the separation anxiety of my first dogs, Agatha and Christie, who howled every day when I left? No wonder my neighbors started smoking crack hearing that through their party-wall every weekday morning.

And it’s still painful to remember the time my dog attacked.

I could go on. But I do have to get to work eventually.

And if I spend too much time contemplating my stupidity in managing my dogs over the years, I won’t ever be able to leave my house again.

I like to think I wasn’t willfully ignorant. Just stupid.

Unfortunately, I was stupid for a very long time.

It certainly might have looked like willful ignorance to anyone who was watching.

So what should we do when facing dumb ass dog owners? And is the proper response different depending on whether said dumb ass is stupid or willfully ignorant?

A Golden Retriever Winks

You sure use the phrase “dumb ass” a lot. You have quite the potty mouth.

Dealing With Dumb Ass Dog Owners

So how do you deal with dumb-assery? Someone else’s I mean, not your own.

Let me toss out a few suggestions.

Have A Quiet Talk Without Dogs

Yeah, when someone else’s dog has run out into the street to attack yours, you’re not in a good place to educate a dumb ass.

Calm yourself down and visit the dumb ass in a quiet moment to talk about the problem. It might not help. But unless the dumb ass is also a psychopath, it won’t hurt.

Apply Social Pressure

If you think someone is a dumb ass dog owner, others probably do too.

Can you come together to apply social pressure?

Social pressure is a powerful force that few can withstand. It’s responsible for behaviors as disparate as old women scrubbing their marbles steps in Baltimore as it is for convincing entire populations to promote ethnic cleansing.

So be careful. And always use your power for good.

Bring In The Authorities

I have an antiauthoritarian streak. Calling the cops is rarely my first suggestion, until gunfire starts.

But sometimes you need to call in the animal cops.

When I kept meeting a reactive dog whose person wasn’t reactive enough, I finally called animal control.

I was really hesitant. I didn’t want a heavy-handed animal control officer to put the dog into an even worse place. But the woman I spoke to at animal control was committed to doing only what was necessary to keep the problem dog and other dogs in the neighborhood safe. For me, it was a positive decision. Maybe it would help other people dealing with dumb-assery as well.

Change Your Route

Of course you shouldn’t have to change your actions for someone else’s ignorance. But if a dumb ass dog owner is putting you or your dog at risk, you do what you have to do.

And your dog won’t mind a bit if you add a mile onto your walk to avoid dumb ass alley.

What makes your dog happy?

I don’t mind going the long way around if it keeps us away from dumb ass dog owners.


Mary of Tales From the Back Road and Jodi from Heart Like A Dog are providing a community service with this blog hop. Sometimes what you really need is a chance to let it out of your system, vent your frustrations.

Especially if you’ve tried my other suggestions and they just don’t work.

If you’re a blogger, get it out of your system. Post your tale of dumb-assery.

And if you don’t blog, post your story in the comments. It will make you feel better. And if it doesn’t, you can always just play with your dog until you do.

Dumb Ass Dog Owners Blog hop badge.


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  1. Pamela, I am certain we all have all been dumb ass dog owners at one time or another, I know I have. Thankfully we as humans can learn from our mistakes. Great suggestions too for helping people deal with a DADO.

  2. My D-A story.
    While working in my garden, outside in my front (non fenced)yard, wanting to keep my dog near by without worrying he would wander away, I would tie up him up by looping his leash throughout the handle of a long handled shovel that was lying on the ground. Though he could pull it & take off if he tried, he never would & I never had to worry about him taking off .
    He would just lie next to the shovel quietly, watching me work & enjoying the sites of the neighborhood, (i.e.: children playing, squirrels running around, etc.

    After he passed away and I had gotten a golden retriever who was about 8 mo old at the time, I did the same thing with him out of habit one day, forgetting for that moment,that this was not the same dog.
    This little guy did start to move away while I was working and not watching him & then realizing that a shovel was following him, went faster, & as the shovel went faster, he started running down the street with me screaming his name to come back-He ran almost to the corner (about 3 houses down the road with the shovel bouncing behind him, before he turned & ran all the way back to me & I could take his leash off the shovel and comfort him. I felt so bad about this-Thank God the street was a quiet street without traffic at the time.

    I was so used to doing this

    • I’ve read about dogs on flexi-leashes panicking because they pulled free and the handle kept dragging along behind them. I can’t imagine how scary it would be to drag a shovel behind.

      But sounds like you already had a good bond with your pup so that he turned to you for help instead of running forever.

      So I guess you weren’t such a D-A after all. :)

  3. Great suggestions for handling DADO’s. I hestitate to call in the cops too, but sometimes you just have to when folks get see their dumb-assery from the trees.

    • Well, the puppy police are in business to make sure animals are safe. Hopefully you have responsible and caring animal control officers, just in case you ever need them.

  4. I think we can all be dumb asses at times. I mean I wasn’t always as savvy as I am now. 😉 I still make mistakes with my dogs and I keep working to correct them. My dogs will also run ass over tea kettle to greet another dog. It is also what they see on our walks and how they are greeted by dogs, so it’s a hard habit to break. I would love to have people to work with and try and work my dogs through this, but I sometimes feel like there are no options for me, when I’m being confronted by these other dogs. I have thrown my hands up in the air, sighed and tried to express my displeasure without coming right out and saying, you sir/ma’am are a dumb ass.

    I have called Animal Control, just to have someone to vent to and find it very helpful indeed. In fact, they did give me a couple of suggestions. I do worry about calling them though because if the person I called on ever found out it was me (and they are a dumb ass) will they fabricate something to get my dogs in trouble or will they try and hurt my dogs? So I guess that makes me a paranoid dumb ass dog owner. :-(

    Thanks for sharing your story and joining the blog hop. And BTW, I love Honey saying dumb ass. 😉

    • I’m glad to hear you’ve gotten some helpful advice from animal control. At least you don’t feel totally alone.

      And I agree about wanting other people to work with. I wish I could reproduce my blog community locally so we could get together occasionally to practice our dog skills with. Honey and I have helped an occasional neighbor practice with their reactive dogs. I’d love to be part of a community of an anti-DADO squad.

  5. Really interesting piece. Sometimes I worry when I walk my Auntie’s dogs. One is extremely nervous and frightened of other dogs so cowers when they pass (she is a rescue with a very tough past). The other is extremely reactive. Snarling and snapping at other dogs and bikes. Though I’m not a dog owner I am always sensible when I’m with them. I walk them separately or with my Aunt holding one dog and me holding the other. They are walked at quiet times of the day. But still there are incidents that I know, looking back, I could have avoided.

    For example, there was a time I was walking the reactive one and I know there is a house at one end of the road with an extremely snappy, howling dog that throws itself at the fence when you pass. Normally I would take the twenty minute detour round for the sake of safety but once I decided I just wanted to get home, it was raining and cold and I couldn’t see the harm. The dog went nuts as I passed and that set Toddy (my Aunt’s dog) off. The other dog managed to swipe through the fence and scratched my ankle and Toddy in his vicious defence of me and himself also scratched my leg. I was a trembling wreck when I got home but I learnt my lesson.

    The thing with Dumb Ass Owners is they are only really dumb if they don’t learn from things. I like to think of myself as a Learning Not To Be A Dumb Ass Dog (sort of) Owner

    ~ Amy

    • Yeah, there’s nothing dumber than making the same mistakes over and over again.

      I’m so sorry you aunt’s dog lives in a neighborhood where you have to put up with such bad behavior. And the fenced dog who’s giving you fits can’t be very happy either.

      Good for you in trying to be so sensitive and continuing to learn.

  6. I was that dumb ass dog owner too and whenever someone got upset with me, I’d immediately go on the defensive. It wasn’t until I was on the receiving end of a high speed dog when I was walking our three dogs that I realized how unsafe that was. Never again!

    • Yes, I’ve also gotten defensive when someone called me on my mistakes. It’s helped me soften my responses since that defensiveness can prevent us from moving forward in a positive direction.

      But sometimes we are sorely tested… :)

  7. I have so many stories…about others AND myself, I haven’t decided what to share! lol

    • That’s awful. No one should ever have too many DADO stories to choose between.

      Of course, I’m a constant source of my own DADO stories. :)

  8. I think we all make a few mistakes, but some of us learn from it and some of us become full time DADOs. Hopefully I learned 😉

  9. Thanks for confessing your own dumbassery. We are not born knowing dog etiquette and so many dog owners seem to have a holier than thou attitude toward the ignorant and uninformed.

  10. Haha, love the acronym DADOs! We’ve all been there and have been DADOs at one time or another, which is why I usually cut people some slack and hope they walk away and learn something from a bad experience. Now, what should we do about those chronic DADOs…karma, baby!

    • Yeah, it’s the chronic DADOs that I’m sure inspired Jodi and Mary to start the hop. Unfortunately, as Judge Judy says, “Looks fade. But dumb is forever. :)

  11. I have totally been a DADO lately – and when I’ve settled down a bit, I hope to post about it. However, your post was exactly what I needed to feel a little better about my own DADO-ness – there’s hope that I will recover. :)

    • You will recover. And tell your story to make someone else feel good in the future. :)

      Yet another one of my DADO stories was when I let Shadow’s leash slip out of my hand 12 hours after adopting her. I knew chasing her would cause her to run faster but she didn’t know me from Adam and I know she wouldn’t turn back to me if I ran away.

      I was sobbing and trying to follow her without causing her to take off. I kept saying to myself, “The SPCA will never let me adopt another dog.”

      Luckily, a stranger who was walking her dog saw what was happening. She put her dog inside and came back out to the sidewalk to coax Shadow into her arms. I’ve never been so thankful to anyone in my life.

      I tell myself that my DADO carelessness gave this stranger the chance to do a good deed. Heck, it probably earned got her one step closer to nirvana. :)

  12. This whole post had me smiling. Thank you for sharing it. I know, logically, that every dog owner is bond to have some DADO moments, but every now and then I get down on myself and feel like I’m the only one who has these moments. This post made me smile because it was a great reminder that we all make mistakes and we all have DADO moments. What matters is that we learn from these moments and make better decisions in the future. Luckily dogs are extremely forgiving, we should try to be the same way.

    Thanks again for this post!

    • I suppose there are people who get their first dog knowing everything. But I don’t know who they are.

      We don’t want to excuse perpetual DADOness. But we all need time to learn, right?

      Luckily, our dogs are usually quite forgiving.

  13. Great post!
    Having a reactive dog we are very sensitive about other people’s off leash dogs, currently i’m working my girl through her insecurities (she’s not dog aggressive, she just needs a proper introduction).
    I’ve gotten very angry with owners who have off-leash dogs I do my best to remain polite but I tend to scold them about it “if you don’t have 100% recall then don’t do it”.
    Thankfully I’m pretty good under stress and have been able to handle all situations that have come our way, but we’ve had a few close calls. Ziva will defend herself if she is approached too quickly.

    Thank you for taking responsibility for your pup! :-)

    • Yes, you’re right to be angry. It’s terrible to work with your dog’s fears just to be sabotaged by someone else’s ignorance.

      Hopefully I’m much smarter now. And I also keep an eye out for reactive dogs so we can alter our route if it seems like a good idea.

  14. I am pretty sure that everyone who is over the age of 20 has been an ignorant DA at some point. Hopefully, we live and learn!

  15. I’ve definitely had my own dumb ass dog owner moments. Our neighbors who brought Kobi home more than once know all about it. I hope they and other people on the other side cut me some slack, like I’ve tried to do with others. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes, and I sure hope I’ve done that. I’m sure many people do, but there are those who never will.

  16. I used to foster for a rescue that never really vetted me (pun intended), and I had NO CLUE what to do with dogs who didn’t know how to walk on a leash or would take off and race down the block. I’m not sure who was dumber– me for taking the dogs, or them for letting me!

  17. This blog hop is great. So often we talk of our successes, which is of course the way it should be. It is refreshing to hear moments when others haven’t been so smart and it helps me to realise that we are all human and make dumb ass mistakes.

    With hindsight it’s easy to see how things snowballed out of control in your situation and as long as we learn from our DADO moments, we can keep smiling! 😀

    • Yep, I can read all the training books and blogs I want. But it’s my DADO moments that taught me the most.

      If someone can figure out a way to educate us without being dumb asses, I’d love to hear it. :)

  18. We’ve had to call animal control once when a dog kept repeatedly trying to attack Mity and the owner did nothing. Annoyingly we couldn’t avoid the house where the dog lived when walking and despite us walking on the other side of the road to avoid this dog it would just run across the road to come at him if it ever saw us. Tried talking to the owner and that achieved nothing – grr!

  19. I love your approach to dumb-assery because it is so easy to only point fingers at others. When I read your stories, I remembered a twenty-something me who had her first dogs. Man, I was a super dumb-ass lots of times. It took time (and some maturation) for me to figure out how to be a good dog guardian. So, I love your suggestions and your humility in approaching this tough issue.

  20. Fantastic post, Pamela. When I think back on all my dumb ass dog owners moves it makes me cringe! Remembering that we were all there at one time definitely makes it easier to have some compassion for the people going through it now.

  21. Oh goodness I’ve been a dumb ass dog owner so many times. It’s a bit shameful but I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot over the past 3 years with Laika and my stupidity is subsiding a little bit. I do agree about calming down before confronting another DADO – I’ve made the mistake of getting into some heated arguments and it really doesn’t accomplish much when I’m so upset.

  22. Great post, Pamela! I’ve been there/done that “dumb-assery” thing, too for sure. Hopefully I’ve gotten smarter in the process.

    Meanwhile, I still have to constantly supervise the girls in the backyard to protect them from the DADO next door. Yes, the one who thinks it’s funny to shoot BBs at dogs who are barking at him because that’s what he’s done to them in the past. They were defending themselves the only way they could.

  23. My dumb-assert almost killed my dog! We took him to see his Grandma, who had a mouse problem, and my big German Shepherd/Yellow Lab mix squeezed himself under the utility room sink to snack on the box of D-Con she had set out for the mice. Several thousands of dollars later, after an ER visit and massive doses of Vitamin K, he was all right. We explained to my husband’s mother than she cannot have rodent poisons laying around the house because of how potentially fatal they are to more than just the intended victims. She agreed to not use them anymore.
    Fast forward a few months or so, and we go back to visit. Do I check her house to see if she kept her promos? Nope, I certainly did not. All that moron did was move them to less accessible places (even though by now, she no longer needed them at all because the mice problem was gone). This time, my poor Jake got stuck under the sink, trying to get to the pellets that she had jammed in to the corner. We got him freed, but weren’t sure whether or not he’d ingested any of the poison or not before we got to him. So, another round of Vitamin K to be on the safe side.
    No polite chat this time. We made it rudely clear to her that if she wanted to see her son and her grand dog again, she’d get that stuff out of her house and keep it out. My beloved Jakey has long since crossed the Rainbow Bridge (of old age, not poisoning), and we have new dogs. But I always check her house for hazards now when we visit.

  24. We’ve all been the dumb-ass dog owner, especially when we were newbies. I think it’s ok as long as you don’t have a closed mind and you respect, or at least listen to, the feedback others are giving you. Off leash dogs (in areas where leashes are required) is a personal pet peeve of mine. I’m all for off leash access as long as it’s permitted – that way everyone expects it and no one gets blindsided or frightened unnecessarily when an unleashed dog comes bounding over. Great post, I know we can all relate to it!