Heads Up – Dog Owners Ticketed at Meridian Hill Park Last Night


A reader reports:

“that the park police came into Meridian Hill Park yesterday evening for the explicit purpose of ticketing dog owners with their pets off leash. Seemed to be an unnecessary “operation” considering there was no one else down there except for dog owners.”

184 Comment

  • GOOD! Dogs shouldn’t be off leash at Meridian Hill Park. I was going to file a complaint because so many larger dogs were running around off leash. I walk my dog there, and she’s not aggressive but leash reactive. Off leash dogs create an unpredictable situation that can be unsafe for other dog owners and the general public. Again, I support this!

    • binpetworth

      +1. Especially given that Meridian Hill Park has a lot of nooks and crannies, you often don’t realize who/whose pet is just around the corner until you are pretty much on top of them.

    • I’m also in the supporting squad. I love dogs, but they must be on leash in public. If you’ve ever ran over by a large dog as a child, you would understand the trauma since then… I can never be the same no more!

    • +1000 I cannot stand it when an unleashed dog comes bounding up to mine. My dog is friendly, but he also is leash reactive as are MANY dogs.

    • + 1 billion. Drives me nuts when people have their dogs off leash and they charge my (leashed) dog. If my dog defends itself from your “he’s-friendly!”-but-actually-aggressively-charging-my-dog dog, who’s animal control going to come after?

    • +1000 It is unfair to people with leash-reactive dogs, people with allergies, as well as people who have had traumatic past experiences with dogs. There are so many great places in this city where dogs ARE allowed off leash. Go to a dog park!

      • Completely agree. The worst are the owners ineffectively yelling their dogs name over and over while insisting he/she is friendly. Cool, my dog is sometimes, sometimes not. That’s why I’m not at a dog park.

    • Ally

      +1000. I had a roommate who would always keep his (very sweet) dog off leash up at Lincoln Park. The dog ran out into traffic twice and nearly got hit both times. It’s not that your (the royal you) dog is bad; it’s that it creates an unsafe environment for everyone… including your dog…when they’re off leash in an urban area.

    • +1 I agree. I don’t frequent Meridian Hill Park with my dog but I am happy when they ticket in Lincoln Park.

    • Agreed! Keep your dog leashed in public places or let it roaming leash-free…safe within the confines of your own home!

  • So if there is no one in the park but people smoking pot, the police shouldn’t arrest or ticket the people smoking pot?
    If you think having a dog off leash should be legal in DC, that’s fine. But it’s not. So the tickets were justified.

  • Maybe the reason there was no one else there was that a bunch of dogs were running off leash. Yeah, the lack of places you can legally let your dog off leash sucks, but you have to accept the risk of getting a ticket if you do it on park land. It’s like a speeding ticket. Sure *you” know you can safely speed, but you’re going to have to pay for it now and then.

    • +1 to “Maybe the reason there was no one else there was that a bunch of dogs were running off leash.”

    • “Maybe the reason there was no one else there was that a bunch of dogs were running off leash. ”
      lol, +1. I can’t believe OP made it all the way through typing that sentence without realizing how ridiculous it sounds.

    • This is true. I stopped running through Meridian Hill Park during “peak dog hours” long ago because I don’t like the hassle.

  • jburka

    Hurray! I always wonder why this doesn’t happen more. You want to let your dog off leash, go to a dog park.

    I often have unleashed dogs rush up to me and my leashed dog and I end up having to pick up my dog. Invariably the other dog’s owner will call out, “don’t worry, she’s friendly” and I have to explain that MY dog isn’t good with others (not unusual with an adult rescue) and I’m picking up my dog to protect theirs.

    It’s not hard to be a responsible dog owner.

    • DC has very few legal dog parks. I’m fine with tickets being issued, but they should use some of that revenue to make a legal off-leash area.

      • That may be true, but I can think of at least 3 within walking distance of Meridian Hill Park — might be a long walk, but what dog wouldn’t like that?

        • Small dogs can’t really walk that far without getting worn out, especially when it’s hot out. I think all the dog parks are south of Meridian Hill Park, aren’t they? That can turn into a long walk for someone up by Columbia Heights or something.
          In theory dog owners should take dog park proximity into consideration when choosing where to live, but in such a tight housing market it can be difficult to get all your bases covered.

          • There’s a dog park at 11th and Park in Columbia Heights. It’s not huge or very pretty, but it’s there.

          • Someone up by Columbia Heights can go to the dog park on 11th, by Meridian Pint.

          • That’s good. Still, there are many pockets of the city where dog parks are over a mile away, and that leads to people having their dogs off-leash in a non-dog park. Just as public trash cans reduce littering, and speed bumps reduce speeding, fewer dogs will be loose in inappropriate places if proper dog parks are available. Urban design has a big role to play in alleviating problems like this, and is much more effective than issuing tickets and fines.

          • No, Caroline, that doesn’t lead to people having their dogs off leash at dog parks — people taking their dogs off leash does… Many small dogs cannot only walk a mere mile but can run great distances, some breeds of small dogs can go long distance better and with less risk of injury than large dogs. Letting your dog off leash isn’t a necessity but it is illegal, inconsiderate, and irresponsible. Put your little dog in a purse, red wagon, or other contraption and carry it to the little dog section at one of the city’s many dog parks.

          • Well, I guess you can situate yourself at the park to wag your finger at the people who aren’t carrying their dogs around in purses, but I prefer to look for better and more permanent solutions. If we’re honest and acknowledge that people don’t always do what they’re supposed to do, we can come up with ways to make it easiest for them to do what they’re supposed to do. Behavioral design is a powerful thing when applied properly.

          • You seriously think everyone would still have their dogs loose if there was a fenced-in area for dogs right there? Come on. Use some common sense.

          • No small dogs should go to the dog park on 11th and Park. I have seen 3 dogs escape under the fence where there are huge gaps, and 1 escape through the entry–they don’t have a double gate entrance.
            It’s terrible.

          • @ Anon: I think it all comes down to knowing your dog. You should not be marching it a mile to the closest dog park if it starts panting/shaking, etc halfway there, or refuses to walk any further.

        • Of course not, and I am totally pro having more dog parks. But there are already so many safe, legal ways to let your dog off-leash in this city and people still do this (some even let their dogs off leash right next to the dog park!). I’m not going to repeat all the excellent reasons people posted here why that is illegal and foolish behavior. I wasn’t seriously suggesting you put your dog in a purse, I was just making a point about how ridiculous it was to say that a little dog can’t walk a mile (but still needs to run long distances so badly that it must be let off leash). This isn’t a problem without a good, existing solution — the leash is the solution. Props to the cops indeed!

          • “some even let their dogs off leash right next to the dog park!”
            Oh please. I’m sure there’s some idiot that does this but most people will use a dog park if it’s there. And walking a mile is not the same thing as running and playing. Dogs deserve to have fun occasionally!

          • I see this just about every single time I take my dog to the dog park in Hill East. There is a baseball field next to the dog park with signs everywhere “Please keep dogs of the field” and there is always someone letting their dog off leash there. Literally steps from the dog park. And it’s always different people.

      • I take my girl to a dog park and regularly see dogs running offleash just outside the dog park fence.

      • I would definitely be in support of the funds being used to open more dog parks. But Meridian Hill Park is NPS land so I think it ends up in NPS coffers and NPS does not create or run any dog parks that I’m familiar with.

    • LisaT

      Oh wow, I was about to type the SAME THING. We used to live on Chapin and took our dogs to that park all the time. Great social place for dogs and their people. But one of mine had a bit of leash aggression and I was FOREVER having to yell to people to “Call your dog!” One jogger in particular, a blonde with a Lab/Golden mix was the worst for this. Every. Single. Day. Once her dog came bounding over and I yelled “Call your dog!” to which she responded, “Oh, don’t worry, she’s friendly!” Told her “Well mine ISN’T and this isn’t about YOU.”

      It’s a nice time for dogs and people on that lower level, but it’s technically illegal so kudos on the ticketing. Keep your dogs on leash (it’s the law, and it’s the safest thing to do), and let the dogs interact that way while you chat with the other people. It’s not that hard.

    • They usually only ticket after specific complaints. Feel free to contact them when you do have problems and they’ll come out.

    • Amen! I walk my anxious adult rescue dog at that park daily, (on a leash) and not only does he stress, but I stress about what unleashed pup may be lurking, and that’s not good for either of us.

      • Does anyone else have a dog whose anxiety vanishes once they’re off the leash? Mine lunge and bark at everything they see, until they’re free of the leash. Then they’re cool as cucumbers.

        • YES! Better (follow up) question: does anyone have a dog that USED TO do this but somehow was trained out of it? How? It feels like we’ve tried everything but nothing helps.

          • Same here. I’ve taken classes for it, but the techniques are impossible to implement if you live in a densely populated area.

  • I’m glad they are enforcing the leash rules. I find unleashed dogs especially problematic in Rock Creek Park. My big dog is leash reactive and having to keep him calm while being confronted by an unleashed dog (regardless of how friendly it is) can lead to a dangerous situation.

  • Keep your dog on a leash! It could get run over by a surprise police cruiser!

  • Dog owners who think leash laws don’t apply to them give the rest of us a bad name.
    I get it– really I do– my dogs love running around off the leash as well. But I am responsible for them, and I am responsible TO them, and in the city that means keeping them on a leash unless specifically at an off-leash park or in a well-fenced private yard. This “unnecessary” operation is very necessary to those of us who avoid places like Meridian Hill Park due to all the irresponsible dog owners.


    I don’t know about you guys but I feel safer already

  • Glad to see the cops have time to ticket dog owners. This must mean that the recent rash of violent crime in the neighborhood is no longer an issue, right?
    …Or did ticketing dog owners just seem easier?

  • Excellent. Now come to Lincoln park. I wish these tickets were for $1000 a pop.

    • +1
      Please come to Lincoln Park.

    • Seriously!!
      I live 2 blocks away and am always in loncoln jogging or just relaxing and there are ALWAYS dogs off leash
      im surprised at how man toddlers i see around the park with so many large dogs off leash all the time

    • I came here to say they ticket pretty frequently in Lincoln Park. You must not spend a lot of time there if you’ve never seen them.
      But it’s a risk many dog owners are willing to take. For those of us that live west of the park, our closest dog park options are Kingsman Park and the Yards Park, both over 20 minutes away. If the city sectioned off park of Lincoln Park for dogs, or installed another dog park more centrally located in the neighborhood, I think the problem would disappear.
      I’ve been playing fetch with my dogs in the former Eastern Market/Fragers pad, or in the fenced-in area near the Hine. But those aren’t going to be around much longer (and probably aren’t legal for off-leash dogs either).

      • I’ve wondered why they don’t fence of a section for dogs – the park’s large enough, especially compared to Kingsman Park. The kids I babysit are terrified of dogs and I get nervous that some pup will run into the street!

        • Ally

          At least the play areas have pretty decent fences, but yeah… the off leash dogs make me nervous with the kids there too.

        • It seems like the area in the middle would be perfect. Half the time it’s fenced off to regrow the grass, so no one would miss it. When it is available it’s full of dogs anyway.

      • I’m in Lincoln park everyday. And I have seen them, just not nearly enough. I wish they would be there every day, twice a day. Maybe then some of you inconsiderate dog owners who labor under the delusion that dogs are human beings would stop leaving your animals off leash. If the other parks are too far away for you, move, or sell your dog. There’s lots of stuff I would love to do in public, but don’t because 1) its illegal and 2) its inconsiderate. But wait, I forgot, your dog never bothered anyone, never ran up to someone who doesn’t like dogs, you’ve always picked up its waste, it never barked at all hours of the night. I’m sure its never done any of these things, I mean it can’t have done them, every dog owner I know says that their dog has never done anything remotely wrong and leash laws are a terrible burden, so it must be true of all dogs.

      • I used to see Park Police at Lincoln Park all the time, but last year I haven’t seen them very often.

    • 100% this. Also, there are ALWAYS cars around this park, and the dogs run fairly close to the outer edge. How are you people not afraid of your dog darting out and getting HIT BY A CAR? But maybe I’m just hypersensitive after years of keeping sight hounds…

      • justinbc

        I’ve seen several off leash dogs hit by cars at Lincoln Park while I’m doing laps around it. I would say in the 2+ years I’ve lived there I’ve seen at least 5 dogs hit. Owners don’t seem to DGAF though, because there’s sort of a silent cop code that they’ll show up, sit in their car for a while, then leisurely stroll over to give dog owner’s a chance to get the dogs back on a leash. As a dog owner myself, I’ve never let her off leash there, or any park in DC that wasn’t fenced in. It’s very irresponsible and should be enforced.
        Oh, and while they’re down there fixing Lincoln Park, how about writing some tickets for all the church goers illegally parked too? Thanks.

        • I always thought it was counterproductive that they drive up onto the park in a car that has PARK POLICE written all over it. You’d have to be pretty oblivious to take your dog off its leash when it’s clear as day that they’re there writing tickets.

        • Ally

          Yeah, I’ve seen this too. Both the dog getting hit by cars there AND the police purposely giving enough time for everyone to leash their dogs and scatter. I guess the police are trying to nicely deter, but it sure doesn’t seem to be working. Note, despite my profile photo and plethora of cats, I’m a huge dog lover. My main issue with the leash laws not being enforced is for the protection of the dogs from traffic.

          • justinbc

            Yes, it’s a shame when you have to protect the dogs from the idiocy of the humans. Polite enforcement/deterrent just doesn’t work. It’s not like people are being jailed, and the fine probably isn’t even that much. But even a small amount should teach people that it’s not OK.

    • Agreed. I have been sitting in Lincoln Park on a blanket, reading a book, when two off-leash dogs came running towards me and plowed me over. The dogs then tussled on my blanket, covering it in mud so that I had to leave. And the owners watched it all happen, with no apologies or other comment

    • Ally

      They do sometimes. My aforementioned, off-leash loving, misguided former roommate (I say this because his dog nearly got killed in traffic several times), had to scramble several times to leash his dog when the park police would show up at Lincoln. Granted, that was several years back. I think dog owners still just don’t get it — they think it’s about whether or not their dog is well behaved when that’s the furthest reason why their dog should or shouldn’t be on a leash.

    • west_egg

      ( •_•)>⌐■-■
      …a pup.

    • +1!! Please. I hate walking my dog through Lincoln Park. People rarely pay attention to where their dog is. “Don’t worry he’s friendly” they shout without moving. BS. My dog is very protective when he is on leash – he is working and any dog that comes close to me he is going to deem a threat. And it’s obnoxious.

  • Dogs shouldn’t ever be off leash in a city.
    Dogs shouldn’t ever be off leash in a city.

    And yes, I know, YOUR adorable dog is different and shouldn’t have to abide by the rules that everyone else in society has to live with.

    Dogs shouldn’t ever be off leash in a city.

    • +10,000. I walk through Lincoln Park four times a day, and have never seen them ticketing. I love my dogs dearly, but they belong on a leash.

      • Agree! But seriously if you are going to have your dog off leash, have him under voice control. Unbelievable how many untrained dogs are let off leash in Lincoln Park. When the dogs need to be controlled, if you can get their human’s attention who may be on the other side of the park, they cannot control them by voice commands.

  • I’m totally in favor of this. No, it’s definitely not even close to the worst thing happening in our city. On the other hand, I’ve been chased and “hugged” by dogs off leash many more times than I’ve been shot at in this city.

  • This should be a props to the cops. As someone with small children, I hope that they all get ticketed. In fact, I think you should have to give up your dog if you do this repeatedly.

  • Please ticket in Rock Creek Park now too!!! Navigating the trails in spring has become a nightmare. And the area near Whitehaven park as well.
    People are putting their own dog, other dogs, and other people in danger when a pet is off leash in the city. It’s a selfish act by thoughtless individuals.

    • YES! I’m scared to take my reactive dog to Rock Creek Park because of all the off leash dogs. I have never once seen a dog ON leash around the trails in Glover Park. Ridiculous.

  • Good. They are also ticketing in some parks in Ward 3.

  • BRAVO!!!

    A couple of weeks ago a 100 lbs. GSD came aggressively running towards my wife and I started barking and jumping all over us. The owner was a frail old man who had it off leash and said to us “He’s just being friendly.” My wife was very, very scared and couldn’t shake off the episode for the rest of the evening. I had sever GDS over time and I’m pretty comfortable around them and establishing dominance, nevertheless it was not a pleasant episode.

    Over AdMo there’s a dude with this very unsettling grin who loves to walk his pitbull off leash. I’m glad they are cracking down. And yes, I agree YOUR dog is NOT special and at the end of the day it’s an ANIMAL with WILD instincts. You might think it’s cute and adorable, but it can be a deadly threat (yes, even the little ones).

    ps I’m very pro-dog, but very aware that they are animals and NOT people, much less babies.

  • I’m glad they did this and I feel that they need to do it more often. I love dogs, I do not own one, but I’ve had dogs come bounding towards me barking like it wanted to eat me. The person always talks about how their dog is not aggressive. I don’t know that dog. It could be trying to eat my face. There are dog parks for them to be let off leash. Stop your whining and follow the law. If there is not dog park in your area lobby for one.

  • Major props to the cops on this one! Please come to Kalorama Park and Mitchell Park next. As a pet parent, I understand why someone would want to have their dog off of a leash but it’s irresponsible and a danger to other dogs and kids.

  • This is terrific. I, like others, have a leash reactive dog. We get along just fine, except when some one is around who thinks they are special and can let their dog run off leash. You are not special. I wonder what prompted them to come last night? I wish they would come regularly to stomp this practice out.

  • Orrrr people with leash-aggressive dogs could just not take their dogs somewhere where there are off-leash dogs.

    • Why is the onus law abiding citizens to go out of our way to find new places to walk our dogs or walk in general when off leash dogs are ILLEGAL in the park? BOO on your logic.

      • +500 Since it is illegal to have dogs off-leash in the city, there are not SUPPOSED to be any off-leash in the park. So it is a poor argument to say that someone should have known that there would be dogs off-leash in the park. And that the people who are following the rules should have to make special accommodations to suit the people who can’t be bothered to follow the rules.

    • Anonymous is the kind of person whose dog should be taken by animal control. You are a danger to your dog and should be embarrassed.

    • houseintherear

      That would mean my dog could never leave the house, in all seriousness. That logic does not work. Follow the law.

    • You chose to live somewhere with no places to let your dog off leash. That’s somehow my problem?

    • Orrr people could respect the law and their neighbors and take their dogs somewhere they are allowed to be off leash, like a dog park.

    • Sooo you mean Meridan Hill Park where it is illegal to have your dog off leash?

    • Not wonderful logic. Even if all the leash aggressive dogs leave there are people with allergies and kids that are afraid of dogs. Tragically, I’m extremely allergic to dogs. I’ve been at parks on several occasions when friendly but unleashed dogs come to say hi and I break out in hives. Just because there are good intentions doesn’t mean there is no harm.

    • Why should we not be able to enjoy the parks so other folks can break the law?! Really? My dog does not have any problems until your dog comes up and won’t stop bothering him.

    • I hear that Anonymous is going to commission special drones to airlift all leash-reactive dogs from their homes directly into dog parks (since otherwise there’s no way to get them there). Three cheers for Anonymous!

    • I think this has become a “don’t feed the troll” situation.

  • While I don’t advocate letting your dog off-leash anywhere in the city without a fence, I’ve never had a single bad run in with off-leash dogs. Just about every time I go into Meridian Hill park, someone has their dog running free playing fetch. The dogs have never even looked my direction or noticed my dog (on a leash) and his attempts to also retrieve the object being thrown. Never seen these off-leash dogs do anything but interact with their owner and fetch stuff.

  • Good. I have a dog. I love dogs. But in my experience the people who flaut the law in this way generally also don’t have respect for the concept of training their dogs. I’ve had unleashed dogs run up to my (leashed) dog more than once acting aggressive, with the owners incapable of gaining control over their animals and insisting “oh he is friendly!” Yeah, right. Once my dog attempted to defend himself and the loose dog’s owner yelled at ME. Eff that.

  • No one else was there except for dog owners? What if someone brought their guide dog down there? How about this – try considering others and not just yourself.

  • For what it’s worth, last fall I was bitten by a LEASHED dog while running in Meridian Hill. The owner was sitting on a bench by the upper lawn with his leashed dog at his feet. I jogged past and out of nowhere the dog sprang up and bit me on the calf. Eight months on I still have a scar showing a clear bite pattern. I was never a dog lover anyway and I’m more wary than ever about dogs now, especially while running. But, these things do happen and since the owner wasn’t actually being negligent in how he was handling his dog I just let it be.

    • I applaud your restraint, but you really need to report even something like that. The dog needs to be quarantined and tested. It also establishes a record in case the dog bites another person in the future. If you weren’t intentionally antagonizing the dog and thought you had kept a reasonable distance, the leash is no excuse for biting.

  • I stepped in dog poo in Meridian Hill Park last night and it made me sad. That is all.

  • As the owner of a dog that was biten by an unleashed “well-trained” dog while on his leash I appauld MPD for this. Now come to woodley park. All I ever see is unleashed dogs and it makes me mad since there is a good dog park within a 3 min walk.

  • Funny how people love the “broken windows” theory of policing – small, seemingly minor violations of the law lead to bigger, more problematic violations of the law – until their small, seemingly violations of the law are the ones being targeted.

    • Can you please count for me the number of people who have expressed displeasure at this “targeting”? That would be the only way your comment would be relevant. I think I saw two: the OP, and the troll who’s blaming the leashed dogs.

      • I think if anyone expressed displeasure at the “targeting,” the comment is relevant. But if it makes you feel better, amend the comment to read “Funny how [TWO] people love the “broken windows” theory of policing . . . “

      • well, I would imagine that the significant number of people who allow their dogs to run at large are displeased with the ticketing…

  • What is a “leash reactive” dog. I have owned many dogs and have never heard of this. Is this code for ” I have not trained my dog how to behave on a leash?”

    • Have you had big dogs? They tend to be more chill on a leash. I’ve done lots of training with mine, and after 8 years I’m finally starting to acknowledge that’s just an innate part of their personalities.

    • It’s pretty self-explanatory, but those are dogs who get frightened/spooked with an unleashed dogs approaches them and their movements are restricted to a leash. I assume you are probably a dog owner who plays fetch with their dog in Meridian Hill.

      • Actually no. I never take my dogs off leash in the city. I just moved here from the Midwest and am scared of them picking up chicken bones, being hit by a car or being attacked by another dog. But my dogs also do what I tell them when they are on the leash with me. And I have two 50 pound dogs.
        All dogs react when a strange dog comes bounding up to them. I didn’t think it needed a special term.

      • Hey BlueStreak–thanks for asking this question–I had the same one and have owned dogs before (currently a cat-owner due to too much time in the office/Metro).
        Katie–the jerky response is really unwarranted.

        • It was a jerky response to a jerky question (not the question itself, but the implication that a leash reactive dog has owners that are too lazy to train them). There’s a polite and civilized way to ask an honest question.

          • So many people in this comments section are being really jerky. There are few places on the internet that have more petty bitching than neighborhood blogs.

          • I admit there was some snark in my question, but if you think it wasn’t “civilized,” then this must be the first internet comment section you have ever encountered.

          • I personally don’t think commenting online gives someone a license to be ruder than they would be in real life, but you’re right– that’s the nature of the medium.
            I was responding to squish’s comment. It’s not like Katie was being snarky for no reason. You provoked it with your initial snark.

    • Good question. Leash reactivity can take a number of forms and be caused by different triggers. For our dog, it’s because he has terrible impulse control and gets super excited when he sees another dog. The leash creates a barrier and he can’t go run up and say hello, like he’d want to. (Plus, we don’t let him meet other dogs when he’s that excited — leads to rude greetings that piss other dogs off.) So, over time, that frustration at the barrier builds and manifests itself in reactive behavior (barking, jumping, whining, sometimes even growling). Some dogs have leash reactivity because they’re afraid of other dogs or because they feel like they can’t escape when they’re on leash. It can happen with any size or breed; rescue or not. We adopted our dog at 2 years old, so he had some poor habits from his previous life. With lots of training (and the help of a professional trainer), the leash reactivity under control. But, off leash dogs running at us in Meridian Hill or Rock Creek (or anywhere really) is still nerve wracking!

    • It’s a term for dogs who overreact to other dogs (or people, or joggers, or whatever trigger) while on a leash. Some dog do this out of fear, others do this because they want to greet the other dog (or other trigger) but cannot because they are restrained, some do this because they were not socialized and have no clue how to act appropriately around other dogs. Reactive dogs lunge, bark, growl, whine, or display other inappropriate reactions to whatever triggers them. Just being on a leash can be stressful for some dogs. They may be fine off leash with other dogs, but once on a leash they feel restrained and anxious.
      People with leash reactive dogs often work hard to desensitize them to their triggers, usually by giving the dog lots of treats whenever they see a trigger (seeing another dog = good things happening!) A bad encounter with an off leash dog can be a terrible set back for the dog in the training and undo weeks of training and desensitization. Unfortunately I know from experience.

      • Thanks, all. I’m still training my pup to desensitize her to react when she sees another dog. Trainer says she gets really excited when she’s dogs and barks to get their attention. She wants to play. She’s not aggressive at all. Treat training has proved difficult.

      • Yep, and the desensitization training is damn near impossible when you live in a densely populated area where there’s never NOT a dog or person in sight. So give the owners of leash reactive dogs a break! Most of them are trying their best.

    • I totally used to think the same thing you did that badly behaved dog = lazy owner! I grew up with dogs and never once observed this phenomenon. Then I adopted my current dog who frequently is reactive (what people have described — fear/anxiety reaction, barking etc.) while on leash. Boy did I get my just-desserts for all those years of judging people with leash-reactive dogs!! I cannot even begin to count the number of hours I’ve spent training this dog — private training included. I am firmly of the belief that owners must train their dogs for the safety of the animal and other people. We’ve made HUGE progress with her and she’s a generally happy, well-behaved pup. That said, all the training in the world won’t prevent another setback which can happen just as other people have described, when something happens while she’s on leash that scares her and she gets leash-reactive all over again. Then we’re back at square one. I think the problem is particularly common with rescues or other dogs that were not trained to a leash as puppies or have a history of neglect and abuse.

  • What does “call your dog” mean? Is that something I can say to dog owners to get them to keep their dogs from running/jumping/barking at me? Does it work?

    Thank you to all the dog owners out there who put effort into keeping your dogs under control. I notice and appreciate it. And I do not at all appreciate it when dog owners make no effort and think that their dog jumping at me (on leash or off) is cute or funny. Your dog is not a special snowflake, and not everyone loves it the way you do.

    • Some off leash dogs come back when called. Whether it works depends on the dog. My dog got out once, and even with a large distance between us, he came back when I called his name. I would hope every off leash dog comes when called.

    • Emmaleigh504

      +1 I would also like to thank all the good dog owners out there. I love dogs and want them to stay safe in the city.

  • Seriously, it’s totally unacceptable to have a dog in any public space without a leash. I know you think your dog is well-trained and good with people – but I don’t know you, I don’t know your dog, and you better believe that if your dog comes running up to me or my son, your dog is getting kicked until we’re left alone.

    • How about having your son on a leash because you do not know other kids too? Kids come to my dog while she is leashed and go ALL OVER her. Clearly, my dog does not like it and parents will just stand there smiling. How about if your kid comes running up to me or my dog, your kid is getting kicked until we’re left alone?

      • Are you honestly afraid of being mauled by an off-leash toddler? Or perhaps you can admit that one of these things is not like the other.

        • I am afraid of an off-leash toddler hurting my dog.. such as pulling her tail, grabbing her ear, and etc. I had a toddler hurt my dog and now my dog has always been very cautious with kids. All thanks to a parent who did not discipline her kid.

          Now you can admit that.

          • If you think an off-leash dog is the same as an off-leash human being, then you can’t be reasoned with. Seriously.
            (Here’s a hint: One’s illegal and one’s not.)
            (Here’s another hint: Kicking a dog and kicking a child are both reprehensible activities. However, one will likely get you a fine or probation and the other will likely get you jail time.)

        • People don’t train their kids to approach and ASK if they can pet your dog. Thats how kids end up getting bit. Not every dog is friendly, thats the point.

      • Please tell me more about these dangerous unleashed kids in Malcolm X/Meridian Park.

  • Why don’t these people actually consider about opening a few LARGE dog parks (the same size as Meridan Hill area) for dogs to actually run around off-leash instead of giving them tickets tickets tickets? Yes, we do have dog parks but you tell me how much space they have… the same size as your rowhouse backyard.

    • Why don’t these people actually consider about opening a few LARGE dog parks (the same size as Meridan Hill area) for dogs to actually run around off-leash instead of giving them tickets tickets tickets? Yes, we do have dog parks but you tell me how much space they have… the same size as your rowhouse backyard. Unfortunately, we have too many people in DC caring too much about money money money… wanting to build apartments/shops over many beautiful grounds in DC. This makes me sick.

    • So spend $50-100 million tax payer dollars so people can let their dogs run free?

      Are you serious?

      Why don’t they move outside the city if they want their dogs to “run free”.

      Walk your dog on a leash, obey the law, or spend YOUR money to do otherwise.

      • LOL at you! It doesn’t cost 50-100 million dollars! Apparently that you have horrible knowledge on money! Dog park is very cheap to maintenance and keep up with! Dog owners pay taxes by buying toys, foods, and etc at stores. Let that tax covers fees for dog park! I am going to laugh hard for the rest of my day! CONGRATS!

        • Or if a fence is still too expensive, what about setting up a few cable runs? Those don’t cost much at all.

          • With tax money, we can afford nice fences for many dog parks. It’s just that DC government misused it like Always! They prefer to focus on build new apartments and etc! Greed for money! Sad isn’t?

          • First, do you really think that the government is building all those new apartments? That’s not the case. Second, even if it were, you’d choose dog parks over housing in an area with a serious affordable housing crunch? I sincerely hope you have no role in policymaking.

          • First, government allows companies to build all those new apartments. We are pretty crowd in DC. We already deal with serious bad traffic, parking, and etc.

            Second, I would choose dog parks over because I can enjoy more with green environment and space.

            Lastly, I sincerely hope you have no role in policymaking. Have a good day!

    • I also wonder why people don’t consider having to make trade-offs about dog-size as one of trade-offs of urban living.

  • It’s about time dog owners get ticketed!!! Please head to Mitchell Park and Rock Creek Park next!

  • This is a good step, and I expect to see some enforcement in Lincoln Park (which is just a few blocks away from a dog park, mind you). I generally don’t mind well-behaved dogs, but I unfortunately have been attacked in Lincoln Park twice by two off-leashed dogs. The first was a tiny dog that decided to come after me as I walked by casually and chewed on my pant leg. It took a few minutes for the owner to see her dog being aggressive and she finally came over and restrained him (without any apology to me, I might add). The second time was with a larger dog, but the owner was quick to react but audaciously warned me that the umbrella I was carrying was the cause of the attack. You’d think this would prompt both owners of these aggressive dogs to use a leash indefinitely, but no, it did not, and that’s why we need more enforcement.

  • The DC Audubon Society here just to remind readers that ground-dwelling birds and other city wildlife are another important reason to keep dogs leashed. It’s perhaps more important in Rock Creek Park than Meridian Hill, but birds like DC’s official bird, the Wood Thrush, nest on the ground and can lose nests or chicks to dogs sniffing them or just blundering around in the woods.

  • Wish they would do the same in Rock Creek Park.

  • I am very sympathetic to people who want to let their dogs run off leash – it’s good for the dog’s mental health – but I have a kid now, who is afraid of dogs. I wouldn’t want a dog to run into the street, or get in a fight, and I also don’t want my KID to run into the street, which she might do if a dog ran up on her. Not to mention what I would do to the dog if one ever bit my kid.

  • I am so so so happy about this. Can we also ban retractable leashes while we are at it? 🙂

  • WOW, you didn’t get much support and I agree go to a dog park or move to VA and buy a farm .

  • I’m so glad this happened!!! A dog once licked my son’s face (he was 8 months at the time) at Mitchell Park. The dog was off leash and ran towards our picnic mat. And I had a boxer (or a similar breed) run towards me at the same park last Fall. The owner wasn’t paying attention. I’m terrified of dogs and almost had a heart attack. Dog owners cannot assume everyone likes dogs. By the way, I wrote to Friends of Mitchell Park reporting the two incidents and they never replied. Shame on you, Friends of Mitchell ParkPark!!

    • Wait, are you being sarcastic? A dog licked your son’s face? I’m not a fan of off-leash dogs in highly-populated places, but that’s the best you have? A dog being affectionate to your child? And maybe one running in your general direction?
      Again, I’m not generally okay with off-leash dogs in well-used places, but what would you do, being “terrified” of dogs, if you were walking down the street and someone came along walking their dog on-leash? If you passed someone’s yard and they were letting their dog run around in their own fenced yard? I’m genuinely curious how you cope with these inevitable experiences.

  • Keep your dog on a leash! I frikkin LOVE dogs., but come on, when I’m on a walk or a jog, I shouldn’t have to spend energy trying to determine whether or not your smoochie woochie baby poo is friendly or aggressive or normally friendly but today he’s aggressive.. Animals are unpredictable. Last fall, I was walking on a path and a lady passed by who had a black lab mix on a leash and the lab kept pulling towards me. The owner said “oh he probably just wants to nuzzle you! he’s a big ol sweetheart”. Well, he got close to me and went batcrap crazy! Barking and growling –I took off! (lol) That experience has had me on guard when I pass a dog walker on a narrow path ever since. Now, i understand that it’s MY problem if I’m afraid of passing a dog on a LEASH but I definitely shouldn’t have to worry about unleashed ones.

  • So, reading all this, it simply strikes me that the neighborhood might be in need of a good, official dog park? I’m guilty of occasionally letting my dog off leash in my neighborhood pocket park (late at night, when no one else is around, or the only other people around are other dog owners), but that’s a symptom. Our nearest dog park is over a mile away, and is kind of shitty. Gavel surface, sometimes the water doesn’t work to fill the water bowls (so I walked my dog a over mile to come here and he can’t even have a drink?), often dirty. And, most disturbingly, sometimes occupied by teenagers who think it’s “fun” to chase the dogs…which my dog would be FINE with if they were kind kids just wanting to PLAY with a dog, because he’s totally up for that! But they really want to be cruel to the dogs using the park, and that’s not okay, and, at the risk of being hurt by larger, older teenagers, when I see them occupying the dog park, I turn around and go home… I know that if I *insisted* on using the dog park with those teenagers present they would, first, attempt to hurt my dog. When I intervened to prevent them from doing so, they’d try to hurt me. When I defended myself, I would both hurt them (I can both fight and carry defensive weapons) and my dog (as small as he is) would probably also jump up and defend me. And then I’d be on the losing end of a lawsuit for hurting them/owning a dangerous dog. I could handle a lawsuit for using force to defend myself, but if a court ordered I put my dog down because he nipped at a teenager who was attacking me, I don’t think I could live with myself. I would have brought him there and put him in a position to feel like he needs to defend me, even though I’ve well-trained him to be gentle with everyone from babies to adults to other dogs in normal interactions, so his murder would really be on me. So, I don’t go to the “official” dog park…

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