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Posted on Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

The pet peeves of dog professionals: Neglecting your pooch tops the list

By Julia Levitt


Don't let this happen to you

Julia Levitt | Contributor

Pet peeves — we have them for encounters with humans but what do the professionals say who work with dogs on a daily basis?

If there’s one thing Peaceable Pet owner-pet sitter Robin Peterson and her chief dog walker, Marcy Gersh, find most annoying is a dog tied up unattended for hours in someone’s yard.

Robin says, “This is tantamount to dog abuse! The dog is left unattended for hours. It has no human interaction. Sometimes no water or shade is available. Boredom sets in . Barking can be the result-incessant barking.”

How about when another dog strolls by-leashed or not on a leash? The tethered dog goes crazy pulling on its restraints. It repeatedly gets yanked and jerked back to its tethered spot.

Marcy’s friend Sue A. —  founder of Peaceful Paws, a nonprofit no kill rescue organization — says what really drives her crazy is when people walk their dogs on retractable leashes and the dog lunges at other moving objects, such as other dogs, humans, bikes and cars.

Sue goes on to say when a dog is off leash and the person attending it calls the dog, the problem arises when their dog does not come, and when the dog does come, the person yells at it. Now what dog would want to come to the person calling it if the dog knew they would be punished?

Lastly, Sue finds it bad manners when she enters a home and the dog jumps all over you, and the owner does nothing.

Walking the Dog owner and dog walker Lisa Saul gets very frustrated when she is walking a dog belonging to a client and she encounters people walking their dogs off leash. The owners call out to her, "That’s okay. my dog is friendly."

"Since they don’t know my dog, the dog owner has no idea if the dog I am walking is friendly," Saul says. “And,” she continues, “they also don’t know how the two dogs will react when they meet each other.”

Lisa is correct. She is definitely at a disadvantage. Before the two dogs have met, they have already sent “invisible “ messages to the other dog, via their body language, of how they will respond to each other.

If Lisa is walking an aggressive dog, and the other dog that is not on a leash meanders over to Lisa’s dog — look out! The loose dog is not reading the body language of the dog on the leash. If the dog Lisa is walking is anxious, this behavior can turn to fear-flight, or if she is lucky, avoidance. Aggression is not something anyone wants to encounter between two dogs, especially if one is not leashed.

Reading body language is an art. The author and successful dog trainer Brenda Aloff has made a in-depth study of body language of dogs.

In her book ”Canine Body language-A Photographic Guide”, Aloff states…” dog behavior is not random, despite how it may initially look to us! While some behaviors may seem superfluous to people, the behavior is serving a function for the dog. It is either a reflection of the dog’s internal state or a deliberate attempt to communicate with you or someone else. Your dog is talking to you all the time. ALL THE TIME!”

These are folks who work with dogs and people daily. They have learned to read and recognize animal behavior. In working and training dogs, these professionals learn how to see the world from the dog’s point of view.

It is so important to have your dog display good manners. One of my clients was asked to leave the grooming facility where she brought her dog. Why? her dog attacked another dog.

David Gibbons owner of Groom and Go grooming shop says his biggest pet peeve is when a new client tells him, "My dog doesn’t bite; it just nips a little. Maybe he or she puts his mouth around your hand when you are clipping its nails.”

"I know we are in trouble," David says.

As you can see, pet peeves affect others in ways we may not think about. Good manners for our dogs extend beyond the home. In every encounter we have — just walking down the street to going to the groomers — it is up to you to make sure your dog is a well-behaved canine citizen. After all, the dog’s good behavior reflects on you.

Julia Levitt is the founder of In Harmony Dog Training ( in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at or at 734-645-4707. Julia also teaches dogs and their owners at Ann Arbor Animal Hospital.



Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 10:41 p.m.

CONSTRUCTIVE COMMENT.......... there is a leash law to keep your dog safe from accidents just like there is a seat belt law to keep you safe from an accident. Is this OK!? you should let people know when and why you find their comments offensive and delete them.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

I see that people are just as critical of the way people handle their dogs as they are of how people raise their children.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

I totally agree!

Woman in Ypsilanti

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

@LA I just know that many parents in my acquaintance do not like the way people are constantly criticizing their parenting. As a dog owner, I find that I can empathize because people are often critical of how I handle my dogs. And this, btw, occurs no matter how you raise your kid or handle your dog. If you always keep your dog on a leash, you're abusing them by not allowing them to run. If you allow them to run, you are being rude to people who don't like dogs. Heck, if you walk your dog on a leash, there are people who will be critical for even having a dog in public because they hate dogs so much. There are people who are critical of people just bringing their children to any kind of public event. Maybe the answer is for us all to lighten up a bit.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

...and why not? As a parent and a pet owner I understand that raising both is a joy and a challenge and neither should be taken lightly. I think it is reasonable to expect that strangers children will not come up and kick me or throw rocks at me as I walk down the street or knock on their door. So too should I feel safe from their dogs (and cats!!) as I go down the street. Full-disclosure: I have let my dog run loose at certain times and in certain places, and I even belong to a private dog park (Dexys Run), and I have an indoor cat who is very happy.


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

Thanks for deleting my comment. Let me re-write it in more PC words. Keep your dog away from my children. I do not like strange dogs walking up to my kids, no matter how nice you think the dogs are. I do not like dog kisses, guess where there tongue/mouth were moments before licking my kids, I don't let strangers lick my kids, so I also don't want your dog to lick them. When your strange dog approaches my kids, I'm thinking of ways to protect them, so for the safety of your dog, keep them away!

Woman in Ypsilanti

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 5:35 p.m.

Oh no. I love children quite a lot actually. I have dozens of relatives who are children and I would favor them over any dog, including my own.


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 2:55 a.m.

Woman in Ypsilanti, I like you :) My kids will be studying someday about people like you and how Darwin was right. Keep up the dog love! To the random moderator: We've chatted in other articles before, you didn't believe me that people like this were out there who valued a dogs life above a humans. I was right!

Woman in Ypsilanti

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

Keep your kids away from my dog. I do not like strange kids walking up to my dog, no matter how nice you think the kids are. I do not like kids touches, guess where there [sic] hands were moments before petting my dog, I don't let strangers pet my dog, so I also don't want your kid to pet them. When your strange kid approaches my dog, I'm thinking of ways to protect them, so for the safety of your kid, keep them away!


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 6:55 a.m.

My brother has a bull terrier. Great dog with kids. Good around the house--protective and loyal. Can be aggressive toward other dogs and is extremely strong. He asks me to watch his dog. Part of watching her is walking her. On a leash. Along come two big friendly unleashed dogs (simple, innocent dogs--not their fault they are not leashed and have never met a dog who didn't like them--just a couple of free spirits). As they approach, I can feel my brother's dog tensing up. Oh, no. OH, NO. I actually throw myself on her. Poor simple woman trailing behind her sweet dogs, "Don't worry, my dogs are friendly." Me: "This dog is going to kill them." Now, fortunately she took the hint and got her dogs away while I dragged mine in the other direction. Yes, literally dragged her. This was a place where leashes were required. My family's dog is practically a pussycat he's so sweet, but we keep him on a leash. It's the law AND he's safer that way. You just don't know how another dog is going to react to your unleashed pet, and you may not be quick enough to save her.

Julia Levitt

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

What a well written comment. Thank you so much for your contentious behavoir-Julia

Julia Levitt

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

Yes Joe your points are well taken-thank you for your comments-Julia

just a voice

Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 9:51 p.m.

OMG; not this all over again. It's simple; it's all about common sense. Enso, your dog isn't being punished by being on a leash; it's the law. I am a dog owner, I break this law to on occasion. But be very aware of the fact that if not on your property or in a designated dog park then you are not legally allowed to have your dog off leash. There is a park near me where you often find dogs off leash. I do occasionally allow my 2 dogs to join in, but usually walk through as I want my exercise too. Common sense says if you have your dog off leash at this park, they should come to you when you call at anytime, even if there is a squirrel. When anyone else enters the park you should call your dog to you. If kids show up keep the dog on a leash unless the parents say its ok, or you are far enough away they can't see you. A kid coming to a park who may be wary of dogs will not be at ease if there is a dog in sight range. The problem is most people don't operate this way. Last fall when I only had 1 dog I would let her chase the squirrel's in the fall. But then she got bolder and bolder and would start running through peoples backyards. Well that ended that, my dog didn't behave well enough to be off leash there.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

Yup. I totally agree.

Julia Levitt

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

What a thorough response-thank you so much for your comment-Julia


Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

what gets me is three things. one people still let the dog run without leash. two do not pick up the waster. third cats that run loose all day and we do not live in the country. we have no cat law but cats and dogs put waste in your yard. so why not a cat law. welcome to crazy ann arbor.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

My neighbor's cats like to come over and sleep on my porch. I am sure they are pooping in the flower garden too along with all of the wild animals out there but it seems a small price to pay. I really enjoy my neighbor's cats because I don't have to feed them or change their cat boxes. I would not support a law that forced my neighbor to keep his cats inside.

Julia Levitt

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

Very good points Mort-Julia


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 1:17 a.m.

>>why not a cat law Many commuties impose identical restrictions on all pets. On the other hand, obviously a typical dog's size and behavior imposes a far greater impact on it's surroundings (danger, damage, noise, waste, etc.) than any other pet.


Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.

Why should my dog be punished and be forced to be constantly on a leash because someone has not properly socialized their dog to not be aggressive as a first response? If your dog is aggressive and willing to bite people or other dogs that come up to it you did something wrong. I have socialized my dog and let it run free (most of the time) to go pee outside. I am with him at all times, but a dog needs to run. It is abuse to never let your dog run. And if you have to leash it because it is violent toward others, that is your problem. I feel sorry for your dog thought because s/he can't even go to a dog park to run. For me it is incredibly abusive to not let your dog off a leash.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 9 p.m.

Swift Run is a really great park. I highly recommend it. But fwiw, I love watching dogs off leash at my local park even though my dog isn't well behaved enough to be off leash there. I don't mind it when dogs run up to me and in fact, I feel quite the opposite. I am glad they are there. It allows me to socialize my difficult dog who is really improving quite a lot. (don't worry, she gets lots of opportunities to run at Swift Run and in my backyard).

Julia Levitt

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:26 p.m.

Hi Enso- I dog park is available -called Swift Run to let dogs run off leash-Julia


Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:11 a.m.

Because I don't want to see your dog running free. Even the best trained animal will still approach my kid. Keep it on a short leash when in community open areas, it's an animal, it really has no right to be there, so feel grateful that some pet lover was on the city council that talked sane people in allowing the short leash!


Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

Thanks for the article! I hope every dog owner reads it.

Julia Levitt

Sun, Sep 25, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

Thank you for taking the time to write LA-Julia


Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

I'm a cat owner and I read it.


Sat, Sep 24, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

i did hope they will tooooo