In a previous post, I described how my dog Quinny and I were attacked by an off-leash dog. That event inspired me to educate others on why it is important to keep our dogs on-leash. Here are the top 5 reasons why we all should keep our dogs on leash except in specially designated areas:
#5 – It’s The Law
Repeat this motto: “Leashless slackers meet dog catchers”. Odds are it’s against the law for you to have your dog off leash, no matter how well behaved they are. Even if your state doesn’t have a specific leash law, chances are your city or county does. Breaking this law might not seem like a big deal until you have to explain why an animal control or police car is sitting in front of your house.
#4 – Irresistible, Unpredictable TemptationsSQUIRREL! You might take your dog off leash 1,000 times without a problem. But your dog is still a dog, and you can’t predict which temptation might be their undoing.
Skunk? Dead bird carcass? Unspayed female dog? Screaming small child? There are a lot of attractive nuisances in our neighborhoods.
All of us have fallen to temptation at one point or another, eating too many potato chips, or staying up too late watching television. If we can’t always control OUR behavior, how can we expect our pets to do the same?
#3 – LiabilityYou are liable for your dog’s actions. What if your friendly off-leash dog approaches a child with a life threatening dog allergy? You don’t want to know the number of figures at stake in that lawsuit.
A leash provides emergency control over your pet. Bad things are simply more likely to happen if your dog is running loose. A court may feel letting your dog off leash shows a reckless lack of concern for those around you. If something goes wrong, you could find yourself in a lot of hot water.
#2 – Protecting your dog
Even if your dog has perfect recall and you can control their every move from 100 feet away – you can’t control the world around them.
Online resources encourage people to carry pepper spray to prevent dog attacks. A lot of people just don’t know how to read a dog’s body language. They may mace your dog in the face in an attempt to protect themselves.
The leash is there to protect your dog from the world as much as it’s there to protect the world from your dog.
#1 – Setting a good example
In my experience people think it’s okay to let their dogs off leash because they see other people doing it too. It makes sense that if someone sees your well behaved dog off-leash in the neighborhood, they may think it’s okay for their dog too. But inappropriately trained dogs running loose aren’t good for anyone. As good pet owners we should set a good example and keep our dogs on leash.
Use these 5 simple reasons to keep us and our dogs safer.
Comment below with your own stories about your encounters with off-leash dogs, and why you think all dogs should be on-leash, or not.
About the Author: Dr. Cyndie Courtney is a full-time practicing veterinarian in the Washington DC area. Through writing, speaking, and her blog Vet Changes World, she works to make a difference in the lives of pets and the people who love them. This article was first posted on On January 13, 2014 on Vet Changes World.