Q: Your neighbor keeps his dog off the leash, and it scares you. How do you talk to him about it?
A: Try to understand why your neighbor is walking the dog off its leash. Most often, it’s because the dog is very well-trained and the owner is giving the dog the freedom it has earned.
When you approach your neighbor, start with a small chat. Instead of saying you’re afraid of the dog in general, state what your specific discomfort is. If the issue is the dog approaching you in front of your house, for instance, ask your neighbor if he can walk the dog on a leash until they pass your home. This is a good way to meet halfway and find a compromise.
One would hope that the dog owner would be receptive to your concerns. If not, reporting a neighbor to the city would be the last resort. Only do this if you are unable to solve the issue between yourselves.
Tony Schreck, owner of Windy City Dog Walkers
A: Speaking from personal experience is a great place to start. If you have had a previous run-in with an off-leash dog, mention it so your neighbor understands your discomfort. If it had a lasting impact on you, be sure to include that. And share any similarities to the current situation — for example, the dog was loose in the front yard.
Avoid mentioning the dog’s breed, which can sound like an insult if it’s stigmatized, such as a pit bull.
Check into the local off-leash laws. Most municipalities require that dogs be on a lead or leash when off personal property. When bringing this up, be mindful of your tone; you don’t want to appear threatening.
Jesse San Miguel, dog trainer, behaviorist and owner of Canine Perspective