Too Many Dogs Off-Leash: A Dangerous Trend


A worrisome trend is to walk dogs off-leash, even in crowded urban areas. Not sure why this is a trend or if this has something to do with the pandemic. Still, there are leash laws. Here are seven reasons to keep dogs on a leash:

  1. Safety First: Yes, it is true that some dogs can learn to navigate traffic. Sill, even Guide Dogs, who know when to cross streets safely, are on a leash and harness. You may think your dog won’t run into the street, but all it takes is one mistake, perhaps motivated by a squirrel or another dog.
  2. Dog vs. Dog: If your dog is the most dog friendly dog, the next dog walking by may not be. If the handler isn’t paying attention or has little control (perhaps due to a retractable leash which is another issue) or that other dog is also off-leash, your innocent dog may not be able to get away. And since the dog is off-leash, you may not be right there to attempt to intercept. And being off leash, your frightened dog may bolt when threatened.
  3. Dog vs Human: Some people are afraid of dogs as it is.  Now, I admit it – I roll my eyes when I am walking a dog on a leash, a person crosses to the other side of the street (often based on presumed breed or size of the dog). When I am walking our 9-lb therapy dog and someone crosses to the other side of the street, I just think, “really?” But then when a dog is off-leash and a person is fearful, I now better understand their point of view. They don’t know the dog off-leash is going to ignore them. And people who are fearful are more often to elicit a response even in a well-trained and well-socialized dog. A simple bark from the off-leash dog may (unduly) terrify a person fearful of dogs.
  4. Running in Parks: Allowing dogs off leash in parks that are not dog parks can cause problems. Dogs may keep running the other way, and get lost, caused by those darn squirrels or a bunny rabbit. Dogs can run up to people fearful of dogs, steal a sandwich from picnickers or even a happy dog to see a child may accidentally knock over a little person, and now you have a potential lawsuit to deal with. Of course, it is your responsibility to pick up after your dog, but you can’t do that if  the dog is out of your line of sight.
  5. Rural Areas: Certainly, there are still some places in America that are so secluded, off leash is no issue. Having said that, dogs run a whole lot faster than people. And if the dog runs the wrong way, your dog could get lost.
  6. Snack Time: With you not right there to prevent or to notice, a dog can snack on anything from rat poison to a discarded chicken wing. Without supervision, dogs are more likely to scarf down something dangerous
  7. It’s the Law: True, you may not serve jail time, but you may be fined.

(In the cover image, this dog meandering with her person down a busy street in Chicago. Who does this dog belong to? Hard to even tell from the photo. The dog really didn’t stop at the street and then luckily the light soon changed.)