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Old 05.09.2019, 19:45
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Dogs roaming free

What are the rules on letting dogs roam around the neighbourhood. We live on a very quiet side road with lots of open areas, woods and large open gardens. The narrow mountain road at the top of my road gets a lot of traffic from hikers, cyclists but not super busy with cars. Next door to us is a kids summer camp with a big football field and dormitory style housing. Often get around 50 kids at a time.



The neighbour who owns the camp has small dogs that have always just roamed free, go on everyone's garden and no supervision. My GSD is 9 months old and when I walk him in the immediate neighbourhood he is on a lead. A couple of the little dogs have been ambushing him, yapping and growling at him even when in our garden. I am worried that they will bite my dog. When I complained to the owner he said I should just let mine roam free and if one of his bit mine it is my fault for having him on a lead. He also said little dogs couldn't bite hard. He then said that keeping him on a lead might turn him into a dangerous dog and he would be worried about the kids in the summer camp so might have to report him. We ended up having quite an argument and he was extremely rude. He believes dog should just roam free and it is cruel not to let them.



My dog is desperate to go and play with the kids and if I let him loose he would be straight on the field. He hasn't learnt perfect recall either and I don't want him to run off into the forest. He is extremely friendly but he is still a puppy and I respect that not everyone wants a big boisterous dog running around them. To make matters worse this guy has been encouraging new neighbours from across the street to let their dog run free in our area. From the way my dog has been acting I think it is a bitch in heat.


When I am walking around the immediate neighbourhood it is just for a few minutes when he needs to relieve himself. We go out in the car everyday and I take him for long walks.
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Old 05.09.2019, 20:14
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Re: Dogs roaming free

Check with your gemeinde on what the rules are since they vary from place to place.
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Old 05.09.2019, 22:57
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Re: Dogs roaming free

In Switzerland there are three levels of dog law: Federal, cantonal, community. There is overlap between the three, and then there are differences between cantons - which can lead to confusion.

Broadly speaking, dog welfare is largely regulated at the federal level. And there is indeed a provision in the federal law that when possible, a dog should have some off lead exercise daily, for both their physical and mental health.

ETA:

That provision is in the TSchV, article 71.1:

Hunde müssen täglich im Freien und entsprechend ihrem Bedürfnis ausgeführt werden. Soweit möglich sollen sie sich dabei auch unangeleint bewegen können.

Rough translation:
Dogs must be walked daily outdoors, according to their needs. As far as possible they should be able to move off lead.

https://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classifi...index.html#a71

Note the 'as far as possible': An owner is expected to take into account local restrictions as well as the level of training one’s dog has, and of course the particulars of any given situation. The off lead provision recognizes a dog’s need to run… but safely, in an appropriate place and situation. The dog owner is always responsible - and always liable.

At the cantonal level the law largely focuses on dog control. Each canton is free to set it’s own laws. A summary of the Luzerner dog law, and other law that impacts dogs, can be found here, courtesy of the Tier Im Recht foundation:

https://www.tierimrecht.org/de/recht/hunderecht/luzern/

Chief points in the Luzern laws are:

1. Dogs are to be kept in a way that guarantees the safety of the public.
2. Dog owners must ensure that their dogs do not leave their waste on roads, pavements, walking paths, parks, other people's gardens or agricultural fields.
3. Dogs are generally prohibited in cemeteries, swimming areas, hospitals, children's playgrounds, school playgrounds and sports grounds
4. Dogs must be kept on a leash in public places such as businesses and shops, nature reserves, parks, public transport and busy roads.
5. Dogs that are in estrus, that have bitten, that are infectious must be kept on a leash outdoors as well as in places accessible to third parties.
6. From 1 April to 31 July there is a general obligation to keep the dog on lead in the forest and within 50 of the edge of the forest
7. Dogs may not be left unattended in forests and at forest edges, on lakeshores, along shore woods and hedges, as well as outside at night.
8. Unattended dogs may be taken into custody by the police.
9. Dogs running wild/hunting that represent an immediate danger for the game may be shot by the appropriate hunting authorities.

So as you can see, the owner of the camp has run afoul of several provisions.

And at the local level you will find places where dogs are restricted or forbidden; as Medea says, check your local Gemeinde for their specific dog regulations.

---

So what does this mean?

First, while it is indeed encouraged that a dog have free running exercise, that notion does not over ride other concerns, especially those touching on public safety. With the understanding of where dogs are forbidden and where and when they are required to be kept on lead, the dog owner may allow his dog off lead provided he maintains control of him at all times. Voice control is sufficient control when the dog reliably and immediately responds. The owner needs to keep the responsibility to ensure public safety in mind at all times - as above, he or she remains responsible and liable.

If your dog has not yet reached the point of reliable and immediate recall, in any situation where there is the slightest chance of a mishap, keep him on lead. As my trainer says: Vertrauen ist gut, Kontrolle ist besser.

Yes, there is a certain type of owner who militantly believes that all dogs must be off lead at all times - and IME that type of owner also tends to refuse to acknowledge his or her responsibilities. If you do not feel the situation is safe - for all concerned - do not let your dog off lead. Free running is a goal, but one that must be trained for. It is unfair - to your dog, and more importantly to all around you - to let him off in a situation that he might not be able to handle. If your dog’s recall is not immediate and consistent, he should stay on lead whenever other people, animals, traffic, etc. are present. Then go back to train, train, train, in a safe place.

Do not let the militant idiots out there influence you or bully you into putting your dog in a situation that he is not ready for. Stand your ground as you decide what is right for your dog in any particular situation.

I’ve written before about my stance with my own dogs around children - I simply do not allow contact with children who I do not know well and whose parents are not present to consent to interaction. The stakes are too high. A child cannot take responsibility for his or her actions, so you must be the responsible decision maker both for your dog and the child. Safety first, middle, and last. If your dog is still in training, please exercise even greater caution around children.

And something you have to keep in mind: You have a GSD, a large powerful breed. It might not be fair, but owners of large powerful dogs are held to a higher standard of behavior; that is the reality we live in. It might not be not right, but a small fluffy mop might air snap and everyone laughs - a big GSD air snaps and people call the police. You must keep your dog safe, which means acknowledging other people’s fears of large dogs. A higher level of training is needed to live harmoniously in the human world, as is keeping a greater degree of control.



So what do I do when faced with folks insist that my dogs should do X, Y, or Z contrary to what I know is best?

Whenever possible, I do not engage. I simply walk on, ignoring whatever nonsense is being spouted, my dogs walking on lead to heel.

If I have to engage, I simply say: I am doing what is best for these dogs, please leave us alone. And then walk on.

Idiots who persist get chapter and article of the TschV or the Schwyzer Hundegesetz quoted to them. That usually shuts the conversation down.

And if that doesn’t work - years ago there was a militant neighborhood creep who had a bee in his bonnet that Hooligan should be off lead. (And we were in SZ, which has a general leash law.) He would follow us on our walk, no matter which direction I turned, all the time yelling that I should let her off lead. At the point where I could no longer ignore him, I calmly told him, phone in hand, that I was calling the police to report him for harassment. And then I called.

In less dangerous situations, an old favorite that many of us use is "Ansteckende Krankheit - bleib fern!” (Infectious disease - keep away!) Even the most thick skulled tend to back off at that.



Bottom line - screw ‘em. You know your dog, his strengths and weaknesses. If you know his recall is not perfect an immediate, do not let others sway you - keep him on lead wherever the situation warrants. After all, if doG forbid something were to happen, those idiots won’t feel the pain - you, and tragically your dog, will.

Know and follow the law - and always err on the side of caution.

Good luck...

Last edited by meloncollie; 06.09.2019 at 23:11.
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Old 06.09.2019, 08:54
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Re: Dogs roaming free

Thanks Meloncollie


It was a really upsetting experience for both of us and shocked with the threat of being reported because my dog was on a lead. We were pretty much standing outside our door when the camp owners 2 dogs and another poodle type I had seen a couple of times before came running at him and around the garden. They were all off the lead and the poodle was by far the worst. There was a girl of about 6 with the poodle but no adults at all and the child had zero recall control. While I am training Axel to leave other dogs this situation was way beyond his capacity to sit and ignore them. Despite being a weak female who shouldn't have a big dog (the camp owner's words) I was able to hold him in place but he was jumping in the air instead. I have him on a harness not collar or it would have really hurt his neck.



To make it worse, he has other holiday accommodation for families and they often bring dogs and he tells his guests their dogs can be off lead. Axel has been off his food for a week and the vet thinks it is because there is a bitch in heat. It maybe the poodle!



All of this information is really helpful and via another neighbour I have insisted that he must tell his guests their dogs should be on the lead when walking past our house as there is a big dog who has not been castrated. Picking up poo would also be nice.


I am never going to let him outside unsupervised in an unfenced garden at any stage but when his recall is immediate and reliable, I agree that it is good for him to be off the lead, That time isn't now.


Thanks again
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Old 06.09.2019, 09:15
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Re: Dogs roaming free

Well, when checking on your local regulations re dogs you might also make a complaint about him if he's broken any of those regs. For all you know they may be building up a file against him if other neighbours have complained.

As Meloncollie said, knowing what the regulations are will help you be more confident in any future situations.
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Old 06.09.2019, 11:05
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Re: Dogs roaming free

While Swiss dog law sounds pretty tough when you read the text, enforcement is local - and thus depends on local attitudes and resources. Where there is no public or political will, or little in the way of resources, you might find that complaints fall on deaf ears. Or you might find that enforcement is not even-handed; the book may be thrown at person A while person B gets a wink and a nod.

One of the surprising things I have seen here is that while Switzerland is the 'land of rule makers' it does not mean that this is the land of rule followers. Often those who are most adamant about enforcing rules against others are themselves the worst scofflaws. Rules and regs that one does not personally agree with are flagrantly flaunted, all the while post-it notepad at the ready, in case someone else steps one toe over the line. The rules apply to them, not to me.

It sounds like the dogs-should-run-free guy is one of those types. And these types can be very difficult to handle.

Add in the mix whether or not the dogs-should-run-free guy is connected in the village. He is a local business owner after all...

What I am trying to get at is that Mr Dog should probably think twice before making an official complaint, as he doesn't want to spark a Nachbarkreig - because his dog could become the victim.

The dogs-should-run-free guy has already hinted at this, with his comment about 'preventatively' reporting Mr Dog's dog for leash-aggressive behavior. If the guy is holds a fair amount of local power, tread very carefully. When accusations are made or rumors started involving a large dog and children, however specious, things can go very bad very quickly.

Sure, this is not the way the world should work... but it's the reality many have to live with.

I would try all other measures first before bringing officialdom into this. And before taking steps I'd make sure I fully understood the 'way things really work' in the village.

---

Were it me, I would concentrate on ignoring the guy, keeping my dog far away. Walk a different route or at a different time if possible, keep well away from the guy's property.

A different situation, but when the Belltie was learning not to share his thoughts and opinions incessently on our walks, I ended up driving him to an isolated area and then walking. There was no way to avoid walking by neighbors who would not have appreciated his barking, so I took more extreme measures. Mr Dog might have to do something similar - at least until things calm down.

Another step might be to bring Mr Dog's trainer into this. Perhaps engage the trainer for some one-to-one lessons in the form of walks together. The trainer can offer suggestions as to how to handle the neighborhood dogs - and can serve as an authority resource if the neighbor starts on his dogs-should-run-free rant. Often an authority figure will be listened to, even by such closed-minded folks as the neighbor.

And if you are not yet involved in a Hundeschule, Mr Dog, this is a good reason to do so. You need a support group/network - what better place to start than the Hundeschule. A local trainer will also have a finger on the local pulse, and be well placed to advise you as to how to handle neighborhood issues.

I'm so sorry you are going through this.

And a final thought: Many dog owners find that the only solution to diffiucult neighbors is to move. Is that a possibility, even in the long run?
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Old 06.09.2019, 11:30
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Re: Dogs roaming free

Quote:
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I'm so sorry you are going through this.

And a final thought: Many dog owners find that the only solution to diffiucult neighbors is to move. Is that a possibility, even in the long run?



Thanks for all the sound advice. No I wouldn't complain to the Gemeinde as it could make the situation worse. Our property is in the middle/to the side of his 2 properties as is the parking so difficult to avoid. Since having Axel I have been searching for somewhere else to live although not looking that hard. New house hunting is now a top priority and, because I have my own business and work from home, I am not so restricted as to where I move to. Somewhere with a completely enclosed garden or small enough that I am allowed to fence it in


Thanks again
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Old 06.09.2019, 12:40
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Re: Dogs roaming free

Axel is a lucky boy to have such a great, responsible owner. Good luck with the house hunting, I hope you find the perfect place soon!
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