Nuisance dogs can be an ongoing problem in residential areas, especially if they make other people feel intimidated. Dog owners have their own set of responsibilities to prevent their animals from behaving in an objectionable manner. Additionally, members of the public have rights to live and work in a safe environment.

Dog Owner Obligations

As a dog owner, it is always your responsibility to ensure your dog does not terrorize the neighborhood or anyone who is rightfully on or near your property. Obedience training is by far one of the most effective measures for having a well-behaved dog. Preferably, your dog should begin basic obedience training as a puppy. It should learn to follow simple commands, to not bark at people, and to stay within an established perimeter. Having your dog spayed or neutered can also reduce the likelihood of aggressive or undesirable behavior. If you are expecting a visitor, package, or routine mail delivery, you should keep your dog inside to prevent it from intimidating others. It is not anyone's responsibility to analyze the behavior of your dog and determine whether its barks are signs of friendliness or aggression.

The Rights Of The Public

You also have the right to walk in the neighborhood without feeling threatened by someone else's dog, even if they are not loose and roaming the streets. For example, some dogs will bark and growl at people on the other side of the fence, which will lead passersby to take a different route or to walk in the street. In general, the sidewalks are considered public property. If you feel threatened just walking by, contact your local law enforcement or animal control to determine what can be done. They may come out and speak with the owner and ask them to keep their dog confined to the back yard if it will not allow people to pass by without intimidation. You should contact animal control immediately if there is a dog wandering the street. Animal control can promptly catch the animal so it will no longer poses any potential threat and can find its owner.

Information For Delivery Personnel

People who deliver mail, packages, or food are often at the greatest risk for encounters with nuisance animals because they are attempting to enter the property. It is important for delivery personnel to remember they are never obligated to complete a delivery if they feel the property or neighborhood is unsafe because of a nuisance animal. Usually, mail carriers are equipped with pepper spray or some other defense if they are faced with a potentially aggressive animal while making their deliveries. Other delivery personnel, such as people delivering packages or food, should speak with their employers about what they can acceptably carry in the event of an emergency. Depending on regulations, pepper spray may be considered a weapon and cannot be carried. Other options may include deterrents that are designed to scare away dogs, such as a Sound Defense.

Keeping the neighborhood safe from nuisance animals is wholly the responsibility of the dog owner. The public and delivery personnel are within their rights to inform law enforcement or animal control if an animal is a potential threat.