A vast majority of dog owners respect and obey leash laws. That’s a good thing!
For those who *ahem* politely decline to follow area leash restrictions, we’d like to talk about why you really shouldn’t. We promise, it’s not leash shaming! It’s for your dog’s own safety.
Let’s address the reasons you really should be obeying leash laws, as framed by the answers we most commonly hear from dog owners who aren’t.
“My dog is would never run away from me.”
Well, that’s probably true. You know your dog better than anyone! But – counterpoint – when you’re out in the world, things can get unpredictable. Is it possible your dog could walk a little too far ahead of you and fall into a hole? Is there a chance your unleashed dog might stop to sniff that poop pile on the sidewalk, contracting distemper in the process? And what if your dog were to wander into the road, being struck by a vehicle just a dozen feet from you? It’s unfortunate but it happens all the time.
“A leash doesn’t make my dog any safer.”
That’s not exactly true. In fact, it’s downright incorrect! Not only does leashing your dog mean you’ve got more control over where she walks, sniffs, and licks, it also means she’s less likely to be physically out of your control. A coyote is much more likely to make off with an unleashed dog than one tethered to her owner, as is a hawk. And what about dog thieves? Yes, that’s a thing! Better safe than sorry when out and about.
“My dog is super friendly to people and other dogs.”
This is the #1 misconception we hear about leashing. Leashing your dog isn’t for the safety of others it’s to keep her safer. Not everyone’s dog is going to be as friendly or mild-mannered as your dog. When yours is on a leash, you can more readily stop a dogfight before it happens, or get your dog to safety if a feral or otherwise aggressive dog is approaching. And – this is important – in some cases, seeing a dog without a leash on can upset other dogs, making them way more aggressive than they would be otherwise. Be a good dog-neighbor and do everything you can to keep the dogs around you relaxed and calm.
“Everyone around here knows my dog is friendly.”
You can’t count on that! And even if that’s true, all it takes is one disgruntled cat person (kidding!) to report you to animal control. If caught off-leash in an area where leashes are required you could be fined or even banned from that space. It’s really not worth the risk!
“My dog doesn’t like being on a leash.”
Again, this is a misconception! If your dog needs to really run off her energy, great. Take her to an off-leash beach or dog park and have at it. In the meantime, remember that dogs are creatures of habit and that they like to be led. Your dog will appreciate the sense of security she gets from knowing her boundaries on the leash and reward you with even better behavior.
Leash laws aren’t just for everyone else to follow! Living in polite society means sometimes having to follow rules you don’t think should apply to you. We’ve all been there. Annoying or not, we encourage you to always, always follow leash laws.