Back story

I went on a short walk after getting home from work today and there was a small dog left unattended on a grassy area. The dog started barking at me and ran up to me. I stomped my foot to scare the dog away as I was unsure of the dog's intentions.

The dog's owner came running out and claimed that I kicked his dog (even though he saw me merely stomp my foot) and then he got in my face and it was clear that he was about to punch me in the face. I was considerably taller than him, stood my ground and made it clear that I would call the police if he didn't back away. He ended up walking away whilst calling me all sorts of expletives. I made a witty comment as he was walking away: "Have a good night!"


The reality is that I would never hit a dog and have been a responsible pet owner myself for a long time. At the same time though, I have been bitten by a stray dog before and don't take chances anymore (regardless of the dog's size). I felt that a foot stomp was the best way to deal with this in a way that keeps myself from (A) getting bitten and (B) injuring the dog.

This person lives somewhat close to me (not the same street though) and I am concerned that he will start going around telling people I kicked his dog. How do I deal with any potential fallout and is there a better way to handle this sort of situation in the future?


2 Answers 2


In Canada, the law seems pretty clear in this case -> Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act. Check the "Amendment 15 / 5-1 (a) & (b)" as follow:

Owner to prevent dog from attacking

5.1 The owner of a dog shall exercise reasonable precautions to prevent it from,

  • (a) biting or attacking a person or domestic animal; or

  • (b) behaving in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.

You said you thought it could escalate, and didn't know how the dog would behave. Therefore, you felt threathened. This is enough to make a move to protect yourself.

And that's exactly what I would tell the person. I made a move to protect myself, but didn't do any harm to your pet. I just stomped my foot to (hopefully) prevent it from biting me. I'm glad it was just a fear, and that nothing happened. Don't be aggressive, just tell the facts. Put the blame on the fear you had, that triggered the instinct of protecting yourself, and nothing more.

By doing that, you won't accuse neither the pet nor the chap. And it should chill things out. Every bouncer needs a cooler, be the one that prevents a situation from escalating.

And keep other arguments(1) aside, just in case the man starts yelling more. But that's another story, and only a small back-up, because you say that you want to prevent any problem with your "neighbours".

Acting like a nice guy who just had a moment of "panic" and don't want to go any further often puts out the fire. Especially when you keep calm and don't blame anyone. You don't give the other side anything to "bite / chew on". I'm often the cooler, involved 1-1 or even as a third party, and it works.

(1) this is what the owner is facing or can be charged with into court (Proceedings against owner of dog - Amendment 6-a/b/c):

the dog has behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals; or

+ (c) the owner did not exercise reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from, - (i) biting or attacking a person or domestic animal, or - (ii) behaving in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.

  • 2
    I'd also add that frequently people act aggressively like the dog owner did to try to misdirect the other person from filing litigation, especially in the US where filing litigation is common. They usually know to tone it down after the moment is over, because otherwise they might compel you to talk to an attorney in self defense, only to find out you're not the one who doesn't have a leg to stand on. This is one of the reasons why keeping it cool works so well - you're basically saying you're not a threat to them even though they were in the wrong and they can stand down.
    – Ed Grimm
    Mar 15, 2019 at 1:25
  • There are, of course, people who see that non-threat as an opening and try to press for a settlement, but that's a separate question in the unlikely event things proceed there, because it's usually over at this point.
    – Ed Grimm
    Mar 15, 2019 at 1:27
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    I accepted this answer because it specifically references Canadian law.
    – James
    Mar 15, 2019 at 3:33
  • 1
    @David General rule, the smaller the dog, the sharper the teeth. Sure, a Rottweiler has the muscles to make their relatively dull teeth break skin, but being attacked by a teacup poodle is still likely to break skin. They're just not going to break bones. Also, if the dog owner has been negligent regarding the leash, have they been negligent about the rabies vaccination?
    – Ed Grimm
    Mar 15, 2019 at 3:51
  • 1
    @EdGrimm "Also, if the dog owner has been negligent regarding the leash, have they been negligent about the rabies vaccination?" Couldn't have said it better myself.
    – James
    Mar 15, 2019 at 4:11

I think you did the right thing. You cannot force any education into a dog owner like the one you encountered. You are lucky because of your physical advantages too.

On the practical side, as far as I know, there are laws in all civilized countries about how dog owners MUST walk their dogs in public areas. The rules are applied differently to different classes of dogs, but 2 things are mandatory 1 thing is mandatory:

  1. leash securely attached at one end to the dog and at the other end to the owner (or to the person responsible for the walk); As long as the leash is not disconnected from the person, everything is OK.

2. muzzle, securely attached around the dogs "mouth". It is not acceptable if the muzzle is mostly "ornamental", and the dog can byte around without any significant trouble. (Note: according to comments, I may have been wrong about the enforcement of muzzles - Internet searches seem to support the comments too)

If any injury happens, it is the owner / walker who is guilty for any damage.

So you did the right thing:

  1. Not be aggressive to the dog;
  2. Defend your safety against the dog (by stomping);
  3. Keep your ground against uneducated violent owner;
  4. Mention the police.

If the owner does not back up from the situation even when you mention the police, then you are entitled to actually call the police and they will handle the situation further.

Other (optional) "activities":

  1. Take pictures /videos of the dog unattended;
  2. Take video / voice recording of the violent owner;

These last 2 details may come handy if you actually need to interact with police. On the down-side, they will (very likely) make the owner / walker of the dog more aggressive.

If the situation is not exceptional, but usual, you may start the phone recording video even before arriving to the area with the dog. In this way, the owner may not notice that everything is being recorded.

For recording videos, you can use any small camera which captures enough detail (phone, car camera, helmet-mountable cameras...).

  • Point 1 is definitely something I will keep in my mind should anything arise from this. I rarely ever see a dog without an owner (unless it's an obvious stray) especially here in Canada so right off the bat this seemed out of place. I'm going to look into this point a bit more.
    – James
    Mar 14, 2019 at 6:30
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    Neither of the two points you list as universal laws are actually universal in "civilised countries". For example, in the Netherlands, muzzles are nowhere near mandatory (never heard of that anywhere btw), and there are public places where leashes are not needed either.
    – JAD
    Mar 14, 2019 at 8:04
  • @JAD: exceptions may exist of course. I expect that in Netherlands dogs and their owners to not attack passers by in the park. Where education is universal, laws are not really needed.
    – virolino
    Mar 14, 2019 at 8:14
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    I have never heard of a country where muzzles are required on all dogs in public areas. Could you add your location @virolino?
    – Pyritie
    Mar 14, 2019 at 11:13
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    @BKlassen He lives in the strata next to mine. My guess is that he's a renter and hopefully with time he'll leave. I don't want to lump all renters into this category but I've definitely seen my share of renters that are a lot more hot-headed than your average homeowner.
    – James
    Mar 15, 2019 at 3:42

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