Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why Are Leash Laws Important for Dogs and Their Owners?

When most dog owners who favor free-running of their dogs think of the reasons for having leash laws, they automatically assume that they are for owners of aggressive dogs only. This is not only untrue, but very common and erroneous thinking. There are many valid reasons for leash laws that have absolutely nothing to do with aggression, although aggressive dogs are one of the main reasons for the law.

A few years ago, I was rollerblading on a residential street when a very large bulldog charged towards me. I could tell by the body language that the dog was friendly, however the playfully approaching dog wanted my attention. It jumped at me, knocking me down to lick my face. Some people would think this sort of behavior is cute, however, I was injured in the fall. The dog owner did nothing but to call the dog into the house. On my return trip, I stopped at the house, informed the woman of the leash laws, and showed her my hip - which was scraped and already bruising. The woman ended up in tears, invited me in for a glass of water, and apologized profusely. I have never seen that dog on the streets unleashed again.

Here are some a few other reasons that people should be aware of the community around them, and help keep our neighborhoods dog-friendly.

  • Most (if not all) dogs that are hit by cars, are not on a leash. This obviously not fair to the dog, but more concerning, it is not fair to the person who unwittingly kills or injures a dog that was not on a leash. It is an upsetting situation for both the driver, and the dog owner, who should have leashed their dog, thereby preventing the entire situation. 
  • Other dog owners at parks and in public places who have their dogs leashed, experience trouble with their dogs behavior only when other dogs are unleashed. Their dogs may react to protect their owners from an unleashed dog quickly approaching, causing an adverse (and unnecessarily caused) reaction. Some dogs become difficult to handle as they try to wriggle loose from their leash in order to "play" with other dogs that are unleashed, and their owners are forced to leave the environment to regain control.
  • Many people go to parks to feed squirrels and ducks... Off-leash dogs enjoy chasing small animals, taking away from the experiences that are there for the people, not dogs. 
  • Most (if not all) dogs that are hit by cars, are not on a leash.
  • People walking, jogging, running, or biking should not have to swerve or jump out of the way of an unleashed dogs. It is dangerous for the person who is concentrating on their workout, and they often don't expect an unleashed dog to run in front of them.
  • The more often the dogs in our communities are caught unleashed, the more laws and ordinances are set into place, restricting our privileges as dog owners. 
If you are a dog owner, and especially if you enjoy letting your dog run free, find an off-leash park, which is the proper area to let your dog enjoy his or her freedom. Unless you are visiting one of these areas, your dog should be on a leash, even if you feel your dog should be exempt from the laws.