Let me be blunt with you, dear reader. We have a big problem in the canine community, and it’s ruining dogs.
We require leashes for valid reasons, No. 1 being safety for all concerned: safety not only for you and your dog but for all of the dogs and humans out and about.
There are leash laws in most cities – you can be fined for not using one in places that require it. And yet … some of you dog owners have decided that this crucial law does NOT apply to your dog.
I read the sad consequences caused by a dog being off-leash every single day on trainer forums. Many responsible owners are walking their dog-aggressive (reactive) dog on leash precisely to keep their dog from having to come face to face with YOUR off-leash dog. You can set such a dog’s training right back to square one if you let your dog greet their dog while off-leash.
This may be breaking news to some, but not all dogs want to say hi to every dog they see every day. Do you – as a verbal human – always want to say hi and hug everyone you see? I didn’t think so.
Also, here are just a few things that can happen to your roving un-leashed Rover:
- He can be hit by a car.
- He can jump on an elderly person and knock them over.
- He can harass wildlife.
- He can mow down children.
- He can get in the face of every other dog out that day, some of whom will respond with aggression.
- He can get in a dog fight that will frighten both dogs and will likely result in an expensive vet bill.
- After you pay that vet bill, you may now be the owner of one of those dogs who cannot stand to have off-leash dogs in his face.
- He can be shot, even in a city park (it’s happening in Colorado and other places).
- He can eat something that may kill him.
Yes, my dear dog owner, I understand that dogs DO enjoy and probably need a good run now and again. Just because that’s true, that does not make it okay for you to allow that to happen in a public location where leashes are the law. You are endangering your own dog and every other dog when you do this.
So what can you do to help your active dog out? Here are some solutions:
- If your dog is truly people and dog friendly, take him to a fenced-in dog park. Most cities have them. Please do not take aggressive dogs there, however. It does no one any good, most especially dogs.
- Work with a certified, force-free trainer to help your dog learn to walk nicely on a leash.
- Once your dog is comfortable not pulling you across town on that leash, consider jogging or riding a bike with your leashed dog.
- Consider learning a sport such as nose work that you can do in your own home and in all kinds of weather. It might be even more fun for your dog than a walk outside.
- Smelling and sniffing for a dog is incredibly important, perhaps even more so than a good run. Take your dog on neighborhood sniffing walks where you allow your dog to sniff – on leash – whatever he wants to sniff.
- Use mind puzzles at home to keep your dog mentally stimulated.
In case I haven’t been clear enough, here is what I will leave you with:
For the love of Dog, do not be that person chasing after your unleashed dog as he gallops right into the face of someone’s leashed dog, calling out as you come panting up: “He’s friendly! He just wants to say hi!”
It is rude behavior, both in terms of canine behavior and human behavior. More than half of the dogs who end up in my reactive dog class are there because they have been confronted, scared, and sometimes physically hurt by on off-leash dog.
Leash. Your. Dog.
It is the law, and for very good reasons.
And yet … so many dog owners have decided that this crucial law does NOT apply to their dog. Why do those of you who allow your dog to run free in cities feel that your dog is above the law?
What do you think about this? Do you agree or disagree with me? Let me know in the comments.
Read more by Annie Phenix:
- A Dog Trainer Answers the Question: What Makes a Dog “Good” or “Bad”?
- As a Dog Trainer, Here Are Three Things I Wish Veterinarians Would Do Differently
- Are You One of the Few Who Train Their Dog?
Read more on leashing your dog:
- 5 Excellent Reasons to Leash Your Dog
- 6 Ways to Thwart an Off-Leash Dog Rushing You and Your Dog
- 5 Ways to Help Dogs with Lousy Leash Manners
About the author: Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA, is a force-free professional dog trainer enjoying her mountain-filled life in Colorado. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She takes her highly trained dogs with them everywhere dogs are welcome because of their exceptionally good manners. Join Annie on her dog-training Facebook page.