Why it’s Completely Irresponsible to Let a Dog Run Up to Another on a Leash

The lack of awareness around this can sometimes lead to very dangerous events. Even if you’re not an owner, you should definitely know about this.

Photo by Anna Dudkova on Unsplash

I saw a video of a Rottweiler the other day. He was wearing a yellow collar, while the owner was briefly educating the people about how each colour means a specific thing, that can literally save you or your dog from harm. There are tons of articles and videos about what happens if you ignore this, yet I see this is still not widely known, not even in the dog community. So, here’s another one.

That short video reminded me of all the anxious walks with my black German Shepherd back in the days, and how people, unfortunately mostly dog owners, would absolutely ignore and disrespect the fact that she was on a lead, wearing a red harness. It could also be that they just didn’t know what it meant.

When you come across a dog on the lead, you have to be aware, there might be more reasons they’re not wandering free and maybe even wear a specific colour.

Generally, when we see a dog running around we think, and fairly, they’re harmless. That’s not always the case.

Molly looked very intimidating. Some dogs would immediately react to her as she was a threat. The truth is, she was the friendliest dog you could meet. She’d want to play with every dog. She was extremely excited and happy to be pals with everyone. That’s how soon I discovered that lots of dogs didn’t tolerate her energetic personality and weren’t as trained as I expected.

Some owners I met seemed like they didn’t care at all. It might’ve been my bad luck. Didn’t matter how obvious I made that I’d prefer their dog away from her.

Once someone said, the reason their dog ran up to mine aggressively barking, attempting to attack her, was because he thought she was a threat, since she’s on the lead. Most dogs seemed to think the same.

I didn’t let her go in public, because she ignored the recall. She was thirteen, she lost all interest learning new commands. She couldn’t care less about treats when she was outside exploring a new world. After leaving behind our house with a huge garden, where she grew up and spent ten years, I couldn’t get her to not run away from me out of excitment. I did try a couple of times, with not much luck.

I knew my dog’s nature, and wanted to protect her. I understood from day one, that not every dog in the park will want to play with her like this. That’s why I also chose to put a red harness on her.

She didn’t know any boundaries, and I was aware it made most of the dogs we encountered very uncomfortable and nervous, to the point where they’d sharply warn her. Her excitement scared a lot of them, maybe because they really thought it was suspicious she wasn’t off the leash.

As you can see, it’s very important to know about these special colours, so you can avoid any trouble.

Here’s a quick guide that lots of owners use with colour codes. Whatever is their full story to do so, pay attention and respect it.

Photo by NICOLAS TESSARI on Unsplash


This means they’re friendly and you can approach, but you still need to ask before you decide to pet them or let your dog near them.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


This can mean more things. For one, it means the dog is nervous and they need their space. But in any case, don’t approach them or try to pet them, and definitely don’t let your dog run up to them without asking. If you have a dog off the lead, the least you can do is call them back to you and make sure the owner of the other dog sees you respecting their space while they walk away. If you have a dog with more energy and curiosity, grab their collar or harness to make sure they don’t try to go up to them.

In some cases, yellow also means the dog is available for adoption, so it never hurts to ask. But if you’re not sure which one, you should definitely just give them space.

Photo by Gary Sandoz on Unsplash


These ones are also easy to understand. The dog, for whatever reason, is not friendly, and/or they try to warn you that they should not be approached by other dogs and strangers.

Don’t try to touch and pet this dog. If your dog is free, please, by all means, at least while they walk past you, call back your dog, and make sure they won’t go after them.

Orange means they’re friendly with people, but are not okay with dogs. But you should always ask to pet first.

I’d like to point out, that lots of owners put a bright coloured bandana on their dogs for the same reasons. If it’s any of the mentioned colours, you need to consider the possibility that it’s a warning to other owners.

A dog off the leash is also not an invitation for anyone to try to pet them if they don’t voluntarily come to you.

I understand how great it is that you can let your dog roam free, but I know for a fact that it doesn’t make them friendly, so don’t be irresponsible. Answering you for calling them back in a normal situation doesn’t mean they’re properly trained. They won’t get back to you when they’re attempting to attack another dog or if they get into a fight with an aggressive one on the leash. Know your dog’s limits and also respect others around you.

In a nutshell:

  • If you let your dog run free, you have a bigger responsibility, and whether you like it or not, it will be your fault if they approach a dog they shouldn’t have.
  • Always call them back and remember that you have to ask if your dog can approach another who isn’t off the leash.
  • Not all dogs are friendly or tolerate strangers. There’s always a good reason they’re not letting them go.
  • Check if they wear any specific colours and consider the possibility of it being a warning.
  • If you let them go, make sure your dog is trained to respond well under pressure and in action.
  • If you’re not certain and you don’t want to ask, just give them space and let them be.

I hope this was a useful perspective and you take this advice next time you’re at the park with your dog. It can make a lot of owners feel safer.

Photo by Ivan Bolshakov on Unsplash



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