5 reasons to obey the leash law (yes, I’m talking to you)

Bandit and I on a walk in Corbett’s Glen in Brighton, NY. (photo copyright 2012 Joanne Brokaw)

I took my dog Bandit for a walk today in Corbett’s Glen, a nature park here in the suburbs of our hometown of Rochester, NY. In general, I avoid walking in the woods by myself. It’s kind of scary for me. I prefer the cemetery. For whatever reason, I feel less alone among the dead. But we’ve been exploring new places to romp and someone told me this was a great trail

When I walk Bandit in the woods or the cemetery, he’s usually on a long training lead. That gives him more than ample room to wander around when we’re alone. But I’m constantly watching for other people and animals; as we see someone in the distance or when a car passes us in the cemetery, I call Bandit to my side and make him sit nicely until the people or car have passed. It’s something we started working on when he was doing his therapy dog training and I’ve just kept it up.

It keeps him from jumping on strangers, from wandering in front of a car, and also from having a surprise confrontation with another dog. In fact, several times during a walk, I’ll call him back to me for a treat, just to make sure we’re communicating.

In this park there are several prominently displayed signs reminding people that all dogs must be on a leash, and that there is a $75 fine for violaters. Here’s the problem, of course: there are dog owners who refuse to obey the leash law.

I know, it’s tempting to let the dog run off lead in the woods. People tend to think that the chances that you’ll meet another person in the woods are fairly slim, especially on a weekday afternoon. But they’re not. It was about noon on a Tuesday afternoon when Bandit and I were exploring in the woods. In just the hour we were out, we met two people with dogs (leashed) and two other people just walking the trail.

And then there was the lady with the German Shepherd.

I could see a woman and her dog coming towards us. She was walking slowly and her dog was at her side. Bandit was a little bit ahead of me, peeing on every tree on the path; he didn’t see the dog. I called Bandit; he came to me right away and sat. As I reached into my bag to get him treat, the woman’s German Shepherd came charging at us, full speed. 

I yelled to the woman, “GET YOUR DOG!” She lazily strolled to us as her dog was completely overwhelming Bandit, sniffing and forcing himself  into Bandit’s space and uncomfortably close to me. When the woman finally got to us, I told her to put her dog on a leash.

“Oh, my dog is friendly,” she replied.

“Well, maybe mine’s not.” I wasn’t happy.

Bandit is actually a really friendly dog and has never had a problem with other dogs.  But his recent confrontational interactions with Bailey have left him very skittish and nervous, especially if he feels threatened or feels as if someone is threatening me. I don’t know for sure that he wouldn’t react, bite, or otherwise defend himself (or me) if forced into the situation. At that moment, he was licking his lips and trying to look away from the other dog, signs that he was feeling anxious.

“Oh,” the woman said, as if it never occurred to her that another dog might not want her rambunctious dog charging at it. “I tried to get the leash on him but he got away before I could.”

Here’s a clue: if you keep the dog on a the leash, then you won’t have to worry about it getting away from you.

The woman wanted to chat – “That’s a pretty dog,” she said about Bandit – but I just walked away, and said, “Keep your dog on a leash. Really, are you that stupid?”

Honest. I am generally not rude to strangers. But as an animal advocate and a responsible dog owner, I know that there’s a reason you’re required to keep your dog on a leash. Her complete disregard for the law, coupled with an arrogant attitude that everyone must love her dog as much as she does, are the perfect recipe for a dangerous situation.

So here are 5 reasons you should obey the leash laws:

It might be tempting to let your dog run loose in the woods. But you can’t tell what’s ahead on the trail – or who might be just around the corner. (photo copyright 2012 Joanne Brokaw)

1) It’s the law. At the risk of stating what should be obvious, if there’s a law in your town that your dog must be leashed (and under your control, not one or the other), put the leash on the dog. So what if you think the chances are slim that you’ll meet anyone in the woods? Does that mean you have the right to break the law, just because no one is looking?

2) When your dog is under your control – meaning you have him on a leash - he’s less likely to get into something he’s not supposed to. Off leash and romping unfettered through the nature park, he may eat something he’s not supposed to, step in a bee hive, fall into a hole, drink from a polluted puddle of standing water, eat a dead animal. There’s often glass, stray food, or other remnants of late night parties off the path that could be dangerous for Fido. And what happens if he’s roaming free and encounters a wild animal, like a skunk? For your dog’s sake, keep him with you and under your control.

3) Just because your dog is friendly doesn’t mean every dog is friendly. The woods on a midweek afternoon is the perfect place to exercise a dog who may not like other dogs. Not all dogs do well in puppy play groups or on pack walks, and that doesn’t make them bad dogs. Some of them just need to walk alone. If this woman’s German Shepherd had charged at a dog with that mindset, they could have had a dog fight on their hands. And regardless of who was at fault (in this situation, the other woman), both dogs and owners could have been injured.

4) Not everyone you meet on the trail is physically able to withstand a dog jumping on them, even a nice dog. What if the German Shepherd had charged at a family with children? There could have been a dog bite, scratches, or even injury from the dog knocking down a child. How about someone elderly? I can’t tell you the number of older people I see out walking in the parks, especially in a park like this one, with wide paths clear of brush and covered with a soft layer of wood chips.

5) People have the right to walk in a public park without being confronted by loose dogs. In contrast, dog owners do not have the right to let their dogs run loose in the park. There are dog parks locally where dogs can play off leash and there are any number of facilities that have doggie play groups. But just because there are dozens of acres of nature trails available doesn’t mean you get to break the law and let your dog run loose.

I know, I know. Every dog owner thinks their dog is the friendliest, greatest dog in the world, and that everyone else should love their dog the way they do. But as a dog owner, let me let you in on a little secret: I don’t like your dog. In fact, I’m a little afraid of other people’s dogs. And I say that as someone active in the animal rescue community. But I don’t want your strange dog jumping on me, running at me, or otherwise interacting with me without my permission.

Being a responsible dog owner is than just feeding Fido a grain-free diet or buying the latest, trendy toys or debating the merits of positive training methods. If you can’t own a dog and also obey the law, maybe you should get a hamster.

  • Theresa

    Thank you for this! I am right there with you, as I am never rude to anyone except those who disregard leash laws! I have a rescued red zone pitbull who is a great dog but if she is confronted by an off leash dog she will attack it. For everyone’s protection I walk her muzzled, and in secluded places where she won’t be stressed. But there are those ignorant people with the “don’t worry they’re friendly” dogs everywhere it seems. Not only does it stress her out to the point that she hyperventilates but I also worry that wih her unable to defend herself while muzzled another dog could attack HER due to her body language. So many things could go wrong. Again this article is so so true. Should be read by all!

    • Cindy

      I so totally agree. I have two large Shiloh Shepherds that walk on leash. Crazily enough, they have been attacked and/or charged by: two lab type dogs who had to run over 100 yards to get to my dogs, and whose owner kept yelling at me to not hurt them even though they were now safely down under paws; several separate incidents of small or even tiny dogs who think they are big; a St. Bernard; a Belgium Shepherd; a boxer; a large poodle mix, fluffy and very cute; a pair of mixed breed dogs just running free with no owner in sight; and many other times. In fact, almost weekly on our walks. In all cases but one (the Belgium Shepherd), the owners said it had never happened before, and the dogs were always well trained and had good recall. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten to hear this over and over. My dogs are not aggressive, but they do respond rather assertively when dogs charge at them. So far, no dog has been injured. But it is upsetting and worrisome. My puppy no longer wants to take a daily walk near our home, although she happily walks at our cabin. I understand many dogs are safe, but just because nothing has happened doesn’t mean nothing will happen. I agree, as well, that dog owners must be careful and respectful when walking leashed dogs. But please leash them. If you want to walk off leash, go to the dog park.

  • Christalynn

    Not everyone with an off leash dog lacks a solid recall. Additionally, not everyone with an onleash dog possesses proper leash skills. Most areas that have a leash law forbid the use of a leash longer than 6′ – so perhaps you should check up on that. I know for a fact that the leash laws in my area state that dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6′ (so no training long lines, no flexis, etc) so if you want to argue laws, that’s really something to take into account.

    My dogs have solid recalls that have been proofed in a number of areas (including recall when deer have randomly sprung up)

    I think your post would be much more applicable if you simply discussed trail etiquette when one has a dog with them!

    • http://www.aictdfw.com Stacy

      This was an excellent article. And I don’t care how “excellent” your dog’s recall is. A dog is a dog and it’s not respectful to anyone to allow your dog off leash in areas where it’s against the law. And seriously you are arguing, Chistalynn, about the length of the leash? You obviously are the other person who all these people have to run into.

      Thank you for this blog. I shared it on my dog training business page. It’s excellent and sadly a growing problem for many dog owners. Luckily your dog is friendly but many aren’t and it’s not fair because when the on-leash dog attacks the off-leash dog who gets the blame?

      • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

        How can you accuse someone of being “obviously the other person who all these people have run into” when you don’t even know the person. I agree 100% with Christalynn. I frequently do let my dog off leash. Not ONCE has she met another dog unless the owner and I have first agreed to allow them to meet. In tight quarters where there are a lot of turns and I can’t see what’s coming up, she’s on leash. In open spaces where I can see hundreds of feet in either direction, she’s allowed a bit of freedom off leash. I keep a close eye out for any approaching people and dogs and call her to me (or tell her to “stop” if she’s near me as I’ve also trained a strong “stop” command along with the recall) and leash her up.

        I think Christalynn does have a point here. The blog author’s first point is about breaking the law (“At the risk of stating what should be obvious, if there’s a law in your town that your dog must be leashed (and under your control, not one or the other), put the leash on the dog.”). If the author is so concerned about being legal, then her dog should be on a 6-foot leash as that’s generally the rule. Most of us break it (I walk the neighborhoods with my dog in a Flexi), but if you want to be a stickler for the rules then be a stickler for the rules COMPLETELY. Those who let their dogs off leash pick and choose what they want to obey and those who put their dog on a long line also do. I’ve had plenty of dogs on long lines run up to me and my dog because (a) the person cannot reel the dog in fast enough and (b) they haven’t bothered training any sort of recall or stop since their dog is always “on a leash.”

        • Johnny

          Just keep your dogs on leash where the rule states so. I would rather have somebody keep their dog on a long leash rather than none at all. Also even a trained dog can have a brain fart. If a “friendly, trained” comes up to our very people friendly and on rare occasions dog friendly dogs then they will be bit and the big one will only let go when he feels safe. He has been attacked by many Off Lead dogs (4). We used to take him to dog parks where he had a blast with some very nice dogs, but now he is very nervous and defensive with off lead dogs. For good reason. So if you want to take a risk with your dog running up to my 100IB Amercan Bulldog and my 50IB Shar Pei and they are feeling threatened due to the past then go right ahead. You will be wrong and dogs will be injured. Also if I see your dog in time running towards us I won’t hesitate to spray it with dog spray or if I have to thump it with my walking cane (disabled vet). I should not have to be worried about off leash dogs at parks that say your dog MUST be LEASHED. Find somewhere else to go that says you can let your dog run free. Thank you.

      • Beth

        Generally in my area,in incidents where an off leash dog and an on leash dog get into a fight, it is the owner of the off leash dog that is at fault. Even if the on leash dog was the first to bite and the off leash dog generally friendly (or even polite), this incident could have easily been avoided if both dogs were on leash.

        • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

          Could have been, but not always. I’ve passed by dogs in fairly close quarters on longer leashes (and even once on a shorter one) who just had no control over their dog and let it get close enough to my dog for it to go after her. Yes, the leashes meant we could more easily pull them away, but fights can occur ON leash as well as off. And irresponsible people have dogs on leashes (and long lines) AND off leash. It’s frustrating for everyone.

          • Johnny

            Couldn’t agree more Michelle. Some people shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce or own pets. I just worry because our boy is very defensive after being attacked that he will defend us and himself. We had a dog bust out of the owner’s house by banging on the storm door handle and put a hole in our boys ear, ripped his lip and his legs and head before our boy grabbed their dog by the mid section and slammed him down and held on for dear life. He didn’t inflict too much damage, he could have killed that dog. He just wanted to control it. In all of our off leash dog incidents he did not kill when he could have. He had one dog by the throat and when the owner grabbed his dog to get him away. Our boy just let go. We only want to go for nice peaceful walks and so do our dogs. If people would leash their dogs at the parks that say Must be leashed we would alll be fine. Also if people have dogs that know how to open storm doors would lock them. That dog knew what it was doing. I’m sure it happpened before. Anyway take care

        • honeymilk

          That’s our neighborhood in a nutshell, almost every day, you’d think the dog’s owners would get it through their heads to leash their dogs already…if the owners of the dogs even bother to notice their dogs charging or growling at us, they take their sweet time to go over.

          They’ll stop and talk to their friends, get their mail, ect.

          But when I tried to shield my Corgi from their lab or try to grab the dog’s collar (only done it a couple times) they act like i’m doing something horrible or trying to hurt their dog.

          ._. I don’t want to hurt their dog nor was I going to, but I have a responsibility to protect my dog from attacks or aggression.

      • jon

        I agree.

        I own a bully breed of dog and when i walk him, i make him lay down or sit if i cant walk him out of the way of strangers who are enjoying a stroll. For starters, he’s a big Presa Canario and he scares strangers when they see him. Now, he’s far more interested in pissing on every tree he sees but the approaching stranger does not know that so to make it clear that i am being respectful, i take to the grass or make him lay down etc.

        What kills me is the people, especially a man with a small ankle biter of a dog or a big dog who has no control over the leash and lets their dog come sniffing me when i am walking without my dog. I like dogs but i really dont want to encounter yours.

      • KaD

        I agree. I’ve NEVER met a dog owner who thinks their dog is aggressive, is a problem, won’t listen in a situation-excuses, excuses, excuses. I’m sick of excuses. People who love their dog, or love dogs in general, leash. People who don’t are rude, ignorant, and deluded. I carry mace with me just because of morons who don’t leash, and I will use it. On the owner too if necessary.

        • Johnny

          Me too. They think that it is okay to break the rules and put everyone at risk. My dog doesn’t have to be friends and just like me he doesn’t want some stranger in his face. I will mace too, but by that time our boy may be chewing on their dog. Defending himself as well as us. He is very sweet, but does like being run up on. He has been attacked by off leash dogs before. More than once (4) times.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Christalynn, that’s a good point that you must be onleash AND have control over your dog. And yes, you need to check the leash law to know the length of leash. (I’m going to have the ACO for the town where this park is located clarify for us what that exact law means, bc the signs just say “Your dog MUST be ona leash” but don’t cite a leash law code that I remember seeing.) But there is NO excuse for being off leash when there are numerous signs posted that your dog must be on a leash. No excuse, ever.

    • Bethany Madlo

      The fact is, the LAW IS THE LAW. If we are being responsible, we uphold to the LAW. My dog also has perfect recall, but I NEVER let him off leash unless we are in a place that it’s allowed. If you want to let them off leash so bad, go out to the country. There are places it’s allowed, so you can still do it, you just need to be respectful of the law.

    • Kana

      @Christalynn – The fact is if there is a “leash law” you obey it. The length of the leash as far as this article is irrelevant. If you’re in a park, on a rail\bike trail, etc and there is a leash law than you obey it. By letting your dog walk off leash where there is a leash law you become responsible for any and all actions of your loose dog.
      I have a reactive dog that does not do well in the company of other dogs, especially those that violate her space. I have encountered inconsiderate owners with their dogs off leash as well as a few dogs that have escaped the confines of their property and freely roam the neighborhood.
      I for one will not hesitate to spray a repellant at your off leash dog if it approaches.
      You’re probably also the same person that disregard the scoop laws where you walk your off-leash dog and allow your dog to crap on peoples lawns and sidewalks with out picking up.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Christalynn, in this case my 20′ training lead is OK per the animal control officer in that town, as long as the dog isn’t causing a problem.

  • http://www.rewardthatpuppy.com Ada Simms

    I would be rich if I had a dollar for every dog owner that said their dog has a great recall “except once when…..” Great article Joanne. I will pass it on.

    • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

      Well, my dog DOES have a great recall. No “except once when…” She’s never approached another dog without myself and the other owner agreeing to let them meet.

    • sarah

      Oh man, it’s only a “never happened” until it does. I’ve seen many a proud owner fall off their high-horse when the inevitable happens.
      My pit mix has excellent recall AND manners but I keep her on a leash where required. She’s been attacked twice by off-leash dogs who have “never done that before”. Talking to the owners, it was not for lack of training but the dogs reacting out of character. I think something about my dog provokes aggression in some cases although it’s hard to tell exactly what is going on.
      Unless you can have a verbal conversation with your dog about his physical well being/emotions/stress levels/etc. it is naive and irresponsible to trust their training 100%, especially in an unknown environment. It’s akin to human behavior. Someone can be well mannered 99% of the time, but if you catch them on a bad day when they are sick, stressed out, and agitated they might act out of character and snap at you.

  • Angel

    Both my dogs are ALWAYS on leash any time they leave the yard. There have been numerous times when we were on walks and random loose dogs come running. Luckily, mine are friendly so fights don’t get started but all it would take is once with an unfriendly dog and there would be trouble. Of course, if there was a problem it would be my dog that got blamed regardless of the fact that he is on leash when the other dog is not simply because of his breed. We have been followed down the street by dogs until I stop and wait for the owner to come get it. I want to take my two to the lake so badly because I think they would love it but I don’t because I don’t want to let them run off leash and on leash at the lake is no fun for anyone. For everyone’s safety, it is just better to always have your dog on a leash.

  • Wendy

    Sadly, most of the irresponsible dog owners will not read this article.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Or argue that they don’t have to obey the law because they have a ‘solid recall’.

      • Jenn

        Yea, no bull. Sure, some dogs have a solid recall…. until they don’t. At any rate, it’s completely beside the point. We have leash laws here and they should be taken seriously and followed. Just because someone says their dog has a “solid recall” does not give them carte blanche to break the law. Period.

        • Joanne Brokaw

          To be honest, I had no clue the GS was off leash at first. It was walking completely calmly at the owner’s side from far way. I called Bandit to me, made him sit, and then wham! Here it came charging at me. Had the owner simply snapped the leash I would never have known (or cared, to be honest). But I have a question, not to argue but bc I’m genuinely interested: if your dog walks calmly off leash at your side, why not just put the leash on?

          • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

            I don’t think this was directed to me (as it’s hard to follow the threads), but I thought I’d answer. My dog is generally at my side, but also sometimes lags behind and rushes to catch up. Sometimes she steps off the trail to sniff things (which is why I hate long lines as they get tangled in EVERYTHING and I had a much worse time dealing with those with constantly struggling to gather it up and then let it out over and over again). Why not leash her? I tend to also be taking photographs (of her mostly!) and so it’s just easier to handle (and the pictures look nicer) than having to hold a leash. It’s a choice. Obviously not one you agree with but even you said you wouldn’t have cared if the dog was off leash as long as it didn’t come charging at you. Even if my dog is 10 or 20 feet away from me, she comes instantly to me if I call her. If I see a dog 300 feet away and call her, by the time that person gets near enough to me to see I even have a dog, she’s on leash under “visible” control.

            The fact is you ran into someone who was pretty clueless, who had never trained a recall and wasn’t even particularly careful about her dog (I mean, the dog was at her side — she didn’t even NEED to recall the dog). She probably fully believes all dogs are friendly and love to meet other dogs. She’ll believe that until the time her dog runs up to the wrong dog who in turn attacks her and causes damage. It’s horrible, but it’s just the reality of some people. I still don’t think calling her “stupid” and walking off in a huff was the right thing to do, even if it felt good in the moment. I also don’t think that painting everyone who lets their dogs off leash with the same brush is right. The world is not black and white and yes, some of us bend or even break the rules (this park may allow long lines but how many people use flexis or long lines in places where they require a 6-foot leash?). Most people do break or bend rules. How many people drive 60 in a 55 after all?

            Leash laws irritate me because they’re a blanket answer to a problem with some people. And a fairly restrictive and drastic one at that. But that’s this country for you. If one person does something that ends up bad (e.g. letting their off leash dog attack another one), then the answer is to not punish that person but to punish everyone else who might have been behaving responsibly in the first place. BSL is in the same category.

          • Joanne Brokaw

            Michelle, I know that the thread of comments are hard to follow (I only see them as one long, giant chronological list so I don’t know which comment goes with which original comment) but just to clear the air, I have said that I realize calling her stupid was not nice, and that I was caught in a narrow, confined area of the trail (with a huge fence on one side and a hill on the other) and my dog was freaked and I my heart was racing and I wanted to get the heck out of there. Not that that justifies being jerky, but it does explain why I was uncharacteristically rude to someone’s face. I don’t normally do that. So I do admit that was wrong, no question.

          • http://www.stubbypuddin.com latrenda

            Thanks what I always wonder about!

      • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

        If someone has a solid recall then they’re not an irresponsible owner. Lumping everyone together into one category is just as bad as calling someone stupid.

        • Christina

          You’re completely missing the point, what everybody is saying is that YOU DON’T HAVE SOLID RECALL you might think you do, but then something will happen, and it will be your fault because “something never happened like that before in your life – your dog has solid recall” It is completely irresponsible to not have your dog on a leash when it is said. And trying to say that the reason it’s okay is because people drive 60 in 55 is stupid, also saying that the lady has her dog on a long leash is wrong is also stupid, she said that the park said there is a LEASH law, the sign does not say “Your dog must be on a leash, but it must be less than six feet”. At least she has her dog on some type of leash when the law says to, at least she knows the dangers of animals and their INSTINCTS unlike some of you people!

    • Mike the dog guy

      EXACTLY!!! (sorry ‘buot the caps)

  • Susan

    I never take chances with my dogs because I love them and it takes a split second for something to go wrong……and my dogs listen well but I still don’t take chances. People that let their dogs off leash for walks are foolish and they are taking chances with their dogs lives as well as other people and animals well being and safety.

  • http://underdogged.net Katie

    I like up with Christalynn- this is not a leashing problem. This is a rudeness problem. I frequently hike offleash with my dog. It is not illegal here provided the dog is under voice control and you are not in a state park.

    I only unleash him when I can see ahead of us so that we don’t come up on somebody too quickly before I can recall him and leash him, and he has an excellent recall (yes, including off running deer). He does not rush people, he does not rush dogs. I don’t impinge on other peoples’ hiking experiences.

    We have become so dependent on leashes to control our dogs that we forget that training is possible, and even desirable!

    • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

      And I think a lot of folks simply don’t bother training recalls because their dogs are always on leash. Then what happens if the dog slips their collar (seen it happen plenty of times) or the owner trips and drops the leash (happened to me on occasion, especially on ice) or the collar breaks or the dog gets out or…Well, you get the point. Since my dog DOES have a great recall and stop, if any of that happens she’s not going to run off. I don’t rely on a leash. The leash is really there just for show, so that other people believe she’s under control, even though she is if the leash isn’t there too.

      • Jenn

        It doesn’t matter what type of control you have over your dog. If there is a leash law, FOLLOW IT.

        • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

          You know what’s amazing? The fact that I don’t really bow down and obey random folks on the internet. I know my dog, I know her training. We don’t even get close to anyone who has a dog without her being on leash (a 6-foot one, not a 20-foot training leash that gives you no control of the dog).

          • Jenn

            Well then good luck the one day your “solid recall” training fails you and your dog. I sincerely hope you are ticketed at some point if you are bringing your dog off leash to an area where there is a leash law. I don’t care how well trained you think your dog is, you are a nuisance.

            It’s called a training leash for a reason but you’ve seemed to miss that too.

          • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

            Since I can only reply so far down the line (annoying), this is to Jenn.

            My solid recall (no quotation marks) IS solid. I’ve trained it and proofed it on distractions of all kinds, including deer, the ULTIMATE thing to chase. If I can call my dog off of deer, I can call her off any small mammal (done it plenty of times) and I can certainly call her off smelling stuff.

            It seems that you don’t really know all that much about training dogs to be off leash. I’m not sure how a dog who is mostly at my side and who comes back to my side INSTANTLY is any sort of nuisance. Is she bothering anyone else? Nope. Is she anywhere NEAR anyone else? Not off leash. I have made damned sure she is NOT a nuisance thank you very much.

            And I did call it a training leash. If you think that a dog on a training leash won’t blow off a recall once that leash is off then you really DON’T know anything about dogs.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Katie, if you have a place where you’re not required to have your dog leashed, have at it! That’s awesome you have a place to do that (although I would personally not walk there with or without a dog.) But for dog walkers who are in a park where a leash is required, leash the dog.

      • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

        And on a 6-foot leash. If you’re going to be a stickler for the laws, obey them. But you’re not obeying them either by putting your dog on a long line. Coming down on people who choose to disobey the laws in a way different than you do is rather hypocritical.

        • Joanne Brokaw

          Michelle, I have talked to the animal control officer in the town where the park is located, and I am legal with a 20′ training lead on those trails. So I am NOT being hypocritical (and I knew that before but wanted to get the official word for you, which was, “‎20′ your good to go!”). So put your dog on a leash, unless you are in a park where a leash is not required.

          • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

            You’d never know my dog wasn’t on a leash regardless of whether or not she was on one. So thanks for telling me what to do, but no. I hope I never run into you on the trails.

          • Joanne Brokaw

            And just to add to that, the ACO said that if a leashed dog is behaved and causing no problems, even if the lead is longer than perhaps allowed, no ticket. Long leashed and causing problems? Ticket. Off leashed? DEFINTELY a ticket. (That is not a direct quote, lol, but my summary of our discussion, just to be clear)

    • KaD

      I think ‘voice control’ should be outlawed everywhere. I’ve never seen it work consistently.

  • Dom

    I do think it’s important to keep dogs leashed when the law states, but I’ve run into just as many bad leashed dogs as unleashed dogs. My girl got attacked by a Shiba-Inu at the pet store the other day. It was on a flexi leash and came around from the next aisle over while its owner stood idly by. MY dog was leashed and at my side and the other dog was on a leash, technically, but it was still an issue. I think it’s important to train a good recall, but also to be respectful when your dog is leashed. I can’t tell you how many people use a leash as a means of tying their dog to themselves INSTEAD of training. I’m generally more wary of leashed dogs than unleashed ones. Obviously, none of that is an excuse to have any dog off leash where there are signs posted, and none of that excuses dogs who are off leash and DON’T have a good recall. I just think as an animal advocate, you could have been nicer than, “Are you that stupid?”

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Dom, I definitely was not polite and I admit that. But I cannot tell you the fear I had when strange German Shepherd charged me, my dog clearly exhibiting signs of anxiety, in the woods, with a stranger who LET her dog charge at me. For all I knew, she sent the dog to charge me, b/c seconds before he was walking calmly at her side and then a split second later coming at me full force. She was ‘stupid’ in my opinion for 1) letting the dog charge me and 2) not apologizing for the dog charging me and 3) acting like she had no idea that I might not want her dog all over me or my dog. (But you’re right; I shouldn’t have used the word “stupid”.)

      • Dom

        I can imagine the fear. I am not defending the out of control dog, just controlled off-leash dogs in areas where off leash is permitted. I think that woman 100% owed you an apology and I am SO glad her dog didn’t harm you or your dog. I do think that with people like that, a calm approach explaining exactly what you said in this post goes much further than insulting them. Now she probably just thinks of you as ‘that bitch’ on the the trail, whether you were right or not, and she’s not likely to take leashing her dog seriously as a result. I think the points in your article are valid ones… I just wish it was phrased in a way that didn’t raise the hair on the back of my neck.

      • JES

        I can totally empathize with your reaction. A few weeks ago, I was walking my small dog in my own neighborhood. A big dog comes charging at us, barking. I picked my dog up and kept walking. The owner finally gets her dog and I say something like, “Your dog needs to be on a leash!” She says, “Oh, but he’s playing in the water and playing fetch, blah, blah, blah.” I say, “This is a public place. Your dog needs to be on a leash.” I said it kinda rudely and felt bad afterward…..but, really why should I? When situations like this occur, my heart is beating fast, I’m trying to stay calm for my dog and the other dog, and it’s extremely frustrating! After-the-fact, I come up with all of these brilliant things I could have said but it is really difficult when you’re “in the moment”. It is absolutely terrifying when you own a small toy breed dog. The good thing is that I can pick my dog up, but it would not take much to cause serious damage. Not to mention the mental damage to my dog and me.

  • Barbara Livingston

    Amen! I have three dogs, NEVER, EVER do I walk them without leashes. Why? To be courteous to others. One must be sensitive to the fact that some people are terrified of dogs; they’ve been bitten or know someone who’s been attacked. Additionally, my Airedale is NOT other dog friendly. Get your dog on a leash before my dog has its neck in his sizeable jaws. Stop using the lame excuse, ” my dog is friendly”. Play by the rules like everyone else, you and your dog are just not that special. Get a clue!

  • http://www.k9capersdaycenter.com Heather Staas

    I understand the frustration of those of you who DO train your dogs to voice control being lumped in the category of “out of control off-leash dogs.” But maybe you could also help direct that frustration toward the people who are off-leash and harassing others and do NOT have any sort of voice control (other than, yeah, the dog comes back eventually after it’s done with what it wants to do…). Not long ago “under voice control” was a LEGAL option in many places. But thanks to the multitude of ignorant and rude dog owners who took advantage of that phrasing it has been eliminated in more and more places. You have lost YOUR rights to legally have your dog off leash and under voice control because of THOSE people, not the people advocating for better control of unruly dogs.

    • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

      I totally agree with this and I get as angry at those people as anyone else. I have run into a handful of those off leash dogs owned by people who have absolutely no control and have never trained any recall. Luckily nothing bad has happened, though my dog has snarked at them if they’re overly friendly and rude (which many of them are, not surprisingly). When the owner acts all surprised and called my dog “aggressive” (she’s not) I always advocate for training a solid recall. I’m not sure they listen, but I imagine they listen more to my “Well, not every dog is friendly or puts up with dogs who get into their space. If you train a good recall, you could have your dog leashed up and THEN find out if your dog can come play with the other one” far better than “What are you, stupid?”

      The owner of the dog in question in this post was not stupid. She was ignorant of dog behavior and the fact that not all dogs love every other dog. It’s amazing how many people think that dogs all love other dogs. Maybe they’ve just been lucky that they’ve never had a dog aggressive/selective dog. Maybe they’ve been lucky that their dog wasn’t one who needed a bit of space and didn’t like dogs jumping on them. So no, they’re not stupid. They just need a bit more experience in the dog world and being told “you’re stupid!” is not going to make them rethink their lack of training.

      I use my dog as an example many times. I call her back to me. I tell her to stop. I make her sit politely. I often get people saying “Wow I wish my dog were like that” and then it opens a dialogue as to how I trained recalls/stops and good behavior. I much prefer those conversations than the nastiness of calling someone stupid and walking off in a huff. That lady didn’t come out of it thinking “Wow that person had such awesome control of their dog, I really wish I could have that; maybe I’ll work on that too!” She came out of it thinking “Wow what a bitch.” Not really conducive to fixing the problem. The blog author lost a chance to educate and that’s a real shame.

      • Dom

        This precisely.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      That’s a great point, Heather. Thanks!

  • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

    I’d also like to add that not all dogs do well in a dog park. My dog doesn’t do well surrounded by large groups of dogs. She likes her space. She likes having a couple dog friends. Too many dogs running around and she gets into her need to control all the things. It’s stressful for her and it’s not a fun place to go. Some dogs do well with dogs who play like them and not others (my dog likes to chase but hates dogs who jump on her and try to wrestle with her). I get really tired of people who come down on others about leash laws, especially people who DO have complete control over their dogs, advocating the dog park as an appropriate place to go. They simply AREN’T for so many reasons. If you have a dog who does well in a dog park, lucky you! But we don’t all have that.

    And no, I’ve never used the “my dog is friendly” line unless it’s when she’s on leash and the other owner is asking if they can meet. Not everyone who lets their dogs off leash are irresponsible about it. You just don’t meet those people because by the time you really notice them, their dog is leashed up because they saw YOU coming long before you ever saw them or realized they had a dog with them.

    • WBoomer

      Great comment! The fenced “dog parks” that are pits are no good! That’s why I left a note about the AMAZING park we have here in Oshawa, ON Canada! It’s a FULL BLOWN OF LEASH CONSERVATION area for OFF LEASH DOGS! It’s amazing not having to worry about that person that saw you 20 feet ahead putting your dog back on leash and scoffing at you even though you and your dog caused no problem!

      • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

        I’m jealous! We do have a small off leash area around here, which is awesome (it’s not fenced in so only people who actually have their dogs under control go there). But it’s sometimes closed down due to frisbee golf games nearby (Gee I can’t imagine why! lol) and so it’s frustrating to get all packed up, drive the 20 minutes there, only to find out that the place is closed. It’s happened too many times so we don’t go there nearly as much as we’d like.

        Our local dog park is awful. It’s small (you can see the whole thing from the entrance), mostly gravel, and has just one or two trees. There’s nothing for the dogs to do except run around and chase each other and I tried going there with my dog but it was just too stressful for her. Herding dogs (and herding mixes!) must control everything and 30 dogs running around chaotically around here in a close space was WAY too much for her.

        • Joanne Brokaw

          Michelle, do you find that in fenced parks the owners kind of let the dogs loose and don’t pay any attention to them? That was my experience observing at our local park for a story I was working on. They were so busy talking to each other weren’t even watching their dogs, and some people brought in toys even though the signs were very clear they are prohibited (I guess some owners don’t realize toys can trigger fights over possesion). I wonder if that’s just our local park or if other people experience that, too?

          • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

            That’s DEFINITELY been my experience. They end up chatting with other people or talking on their cell phones or texting people. Meanwhile their dogs are tearing around the place and they’re not even watching for any sort of play escalation or other issues that can happen. One dog consistently harassed my dog, following her around and trying to hump her. I had no idea who the dog belonged to until my dog finally had had enough and told the dog off. THEN the guy comes running from out of nowhere, cell phone in hand, to tell me to remove my aggressive dog from the park. That was the last time I took her there. People don’t know anything about dogs and they think they can just let their out of control dogs run loose without any supervision. Can you imagine if parents did the same thing? *shudders*

          • Joanne Brokaw

            I think that some dog owners (and I’m not applying this to you by any means, just sharing a general dog park thought) equate off leash with positive freedom for their dog. When I think, in reality, when we’re building relationships with our dogs, they want US – our attention, our time, our investment in their training. Letting a dog loose in a fenced dog park doesn’t help to direct his energy any more than just letting him out in a fenced back yard for an hour while his owner watches Dr. Phil on TV. Focused time – playing ball, practicing skills, learning to read their communication – is far better for the owner/dog relationship than simply letting the dog romp for an hour wildly with his pals and with no direction.

    • Dom

      I can’t take my dog to the dog park because she’s a pit bull and so many people have a bias and get uppity. My dog loves dogs and plays well with others, but the second someone else’s dog acts out and there’s a conflict, I risk being branded as the owner of a ‘dangerous pit’. Thankfully, I have a farm I can let my dog loose on whenever I’d like, but not everyone has that option and I don’t think well behaved off-leash dogs should be kept out of areas because of the stupidity of some OTHER people.

  • Amanda

    Obe thing I think is improtant is that every dog isn’t friendly with others and they don’t have to be when well managed on a leash. One of my three is not dog friendly and when we got her she was a holy terror. We have worked with her the last two years and when we pass dogs most people would never know there was ever an issue. She will never be great with new dogs but we can safely walk her and we all enjoy the walk. Now, that said we do have areas where I live that are hiking where dogs are allowed off leash. Those are places I would never dream to take her but my other dog friendly dog I will. There is enough places for both to go and walk. For some reason I always seem surprise at people when they think it’s their right to have a dog off leash in a leashed area.

    • Amanda

      Touch screen, sorry, I meant “One thing”

  • http://craftygal1965.blogspot.com Cora

    Finally! I have often heard the phrase “My dog is friendly”. Well mine isn’t, at least one. Leo is an 11 yr old miniature dachshund long haired. Often I get people running up to him because he is just the cutest thing ever. Well he is leash aggressive, so we often walk him either in early afternoon or late evening when we know that is there little chance of bumping into other dogs. Don’t get me wrong we go to our local doxie group as well as a small dog group.

    Since we know that Leo is leash aggressive we do things so that walks are pleasant for him and us. So imagine when I come across people who totally disregard leash laws. I was at a dog festival in July and there were signs every where that said “Leash your dogs in the park unless in the off leash area.” I work with a dachshund rescue group, so I was busy at the booth. My husband would take the dogs to the off leash area, Leo was only one off leash in this spot because he has great recall, the other two do not so they stay on leash.

    Well this lady walked by us with 5 dogs, with one off leash…a little chihuahua. That dog was clearly nervous and should have been on leash. Scrappy, ma dachshund/terrier cross and the friendliest of the bunch was cautious when he saw this creature. The dog tried to nip and he hadn’t done anything. Thankfully an animal control officer was there and very gently reminded her about the leash laws. She “hrmphed” and stormed off as if it was her right to have her dog off leash.


    I won’t even go int the Poop laws as we are constantly picking up dog poop that isn’t even our dogs!


  • Hazel

    I always leash my dogs when walking. Never had a problem before if the other dog wasn’t leashed as my boy completely ignored any dog while walking. The two I have now do have issues with other dogs, one was rolled as a pup by a lab and now thinks he has to get the first word in and the other one is why now I am terrified when I see an unleashed dog. He is a “fearful” dog and usually has good recall until he sees another dog, person, car etc then he shuts down and cowers. Now I wish everyone would leash because you don’t know if the next dog you see is a “fearful” dog. If your dog is off leash and not under control it can set a “fearful” dog back weeks even months. I don’t know your dog and if it comes running at us I will act as if he is the most dangerous thing around and do what I think I need to to keep my boy safe. Please keep your dog on a leash if it is the law.

  • Tony

    Your article is very well written and concise. Rules that dog owners need to live by, but, who do you think you are calling people stupid? I walk my Pitbull at Corbetts Glen as well. She is always on leash because of the misconceptions of the breed. Apparently your dog is trained very well but you need better people skills! That lady was wrong! But so was the way you handled it.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Tony, again, I have apologized for calling her stupid, and explained that, under the circumstances, I was scared, the dog was scared, I was in that narrow confined area with the privacy fence on one side and the hill/tracks on the other (if you walk there, you know the stretch I mean). I just wanted to get away asap.

  • Sarah

    My recommendation to deal with situations like this is the product now called Spray Shield (used to be DirectStop). It’s a citronella spray that you use on the approaching dog, and it deters them without harming them. It probably wouldn’t work on a really aggressive dog, but since most dogs are just rude, I’ve found that it works. The best thing about it is that the clueless owner is all incensed that you sprayed their dog with something (even when you assure them that it’s harmless), and in the future, they’ll keep their dog away from you.

    • Jennifer

      Spray Shield

      I’ll be looking for this. Thanks for the tip!

  • Bart Biffleson

    You might be making some valid points, but your arrogant, smarmy, nasty attitude caused me to stop listening as soon as the first nasty comment came out of your mouth (pen). Maybe those others need some education. Maybe they’ve never considered your viewpoint. Maybe they just forgot. Regardless, your attitude is surely not going to cause them to reconsider their behavior. In fact, if I was the one on the receiving end of your nasty attitude, I’d probably tell you to pound sand.

    • Dom

      I was really turned off by the attitude too… so much so that the probably-valid points were lost.

  • Jennifer

    I fear the unleashed dogs myself. Both my dogs are ALWAYS leashed. We were attacked TWICE by ‘friendly’ unleashed dogs. My dogs are now afraid of other dogs and get into attack mode if they see another dog. I go out of my way to walk on ‘off’ times, walk off the path when I see another dog coming….I do what I have to so we can just take a nice quiet walk. They are not bad dogs, they just want to be left alone.
    I don’t care if your dog has won friendliest dog awards and always comes when called. If there is a law, there is a law. It does not say ‘except for…’ it says ALL. There are plenty of places I am sure you could find to be alone to unleash your dogs where you will not encounter anyone and have that issue. Have at it. If you go ANYWHERE where you could encounter another dog and/or human and there is a law, just leash up. All it takes is 1 bite, 1 jump, 1 scratch, one person to react and fall and there you have a law suit. People are sue happy these days. It does not take much.
    If my dog is on a leash and a dog comes up to them and mine bite, I am not at fault…I have already checked with my dog officer. But I would REALLY like to avoid that whole situation. But I would probably be dragged to court anyway. Now we don’t visit the park as much as we would like because there are the ‘except for me’ people that have their dog off leash. How is that fair?
    If there was a park that leash was optional, I would be courteous and avoid that park and not complain about it. The signs clearly stated to be on a leash.
    If you feel you fall in the ‘except for me’ category then find somewhere else to walk so people that obey the law can enjoy themselves. What other laws is it ok to break?

    • KaD

      Yes, and dogs that are dog-aggressive are a proven danger to people because they RE-direct their aggression when their owners try to seperate them. The average cost of a dog bite claim-for ONE bite-is over $26,000. Is it worth it just to have your dog off leash? Really? http://www.dogbitelaw.com

  • sheila

    The driving speed limit in my neighborhood is 20 MPH but I usually drive 50 MPH. It’s okay, I’m a very responsible driver.

    • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

      More like “the speed limit is 20mph but I usually go about 23-25mph.” People who let their dogs off leash with no control and allow them to rush other dogs and people are obnoxious. They’re the ones driving 50mph down neighborhood streets with no care for anyone but themselves. They’re the ones putting their dogs in danger. But the person who has control over their dog and instantly leashes him up when anyone is seen, who has them under firm voice control, is more like the person going just over the speed limit. They’re still driving safely, even if it’s against the law to go over 20mph.

      • Jean

        OMGosh! It’s so true! If you dare to do the speed limit in our town you will wind up leading a parade around the lake! (Yes, I know cause sometimes I lead the parade!) And this really pisses people off! Yet let your dog off leash in a big field to chase a ball and you will be yelled at to put the dog on a leash! Double standards suck.

  • Nan

    My dog was very sick and on immune suppressants for 6 months. He was not supposed to meet another dog during this time. However, we regularly ran into people whose dogs were not leashed on our neighborhood streets. Many were great about leashing up the dog as soon as they saw us, or my husband called to them. Others had no control over their dogs and we had to stop their dogs, grab collars and once, pick up our dog (all 45 lbs of him) until the owner could get control and in order to protect our dog’s health. We avoided the wooded areas near us in order to avoid all of the off leash dogs (who should have been leashed) in order to protect our dog. But it was very frustrating to have to deal with uncontrolled, off leash dogs in our own neighborhood. Consequently, my dog loves the sound of his leash. It always means he’s going out for a walk. What I really wish, is that dog owners could discuss this topic without so much rancor.

  • Merri

    My last Dog Dante and I were walking …. suddenly right in front of us, I saw a water moccasin sleeping in a pule of leaves, fortunately before Dante. Glad he was not off leash. There is only one place our dogs go off leash– when they are running an agility course.

  • Monica G

    Great article, I will be sharing. I have 6 mini dachshunds (all 10′s lbs or less) and I walk all of them at the same time. My dogs are all extremely friendly to people and animals (they are all show dogs and performance dogs) but when they are walking in a pack, they will develop pack mentality. I understand this but others do not. My ‘pack’ walks together all the time with no problems until someone has an unleashed dog. We were at a concert in the park a few month ago and a man had a pitbull unleashed!!!! Many people were very uncomfortable and despite the leash law he did not leash his dog, telling everyone ____ ( I cannot remember the dogs name) is friendly. Unfortuneately there was not an officer in site. His dog came running up to my guys and they started to bark and get defensive because he was really invading their space. I kept them all under control, or at least the best I could because the dog was all over us, the man came running up laughing! I explained to him that his dog may be friendly but that not all dogs like being overtaken by a much larger dogs. He then told me that my dogs were out of control and that I should not be allowed to have so many dogs. I am not a rude person and politely ask him to leash his dog and that we would be moving our spot to the other side of the park.

  • http://elizabethc88@aol.com Elizabeth

    It’s amazing to me that people think allowing your dog off leash if he is “well trained” is acceptable. The law was CREATED because people have differing ideas of what “well trained’ means. When I see a unleashed dog, I don’t want to have to figure out whether it has a responsible owner or not. My pit mix was actually attacked by a tiny off leash chihuahua that jumped out of her owners arms. If I hadn’t been paying attention and pulled my dog up quickly, my dog could have killed it in seconds. People such as myself get angry and frustrated because the stakes can be extremely high. I love my dog, I don’t want her hurt OR for her to hurt any other dogs. Try having a stressful situation like that happen enough times and I think calling someone “stupid” might seem somewhat justified.

    • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

      The laws were created because people felt they didn’t HAVE to train their dogs, not because they thought that their dog running willy-nilly all over the place were well trained.

      • http://elizabethc88@aol.com Elizabeth

        really? are you some authority on the creation of leash laws? You’re just apparently the kind of person who doesn’t give a damn about anyone else. I hope you’re right about your dog’s training, and he/she doesn’t suffer due to your selfishness and arrogance.

        • http://thespottedtongue.com Michelle

          How on earth could my dog suffer? I AM right about her training. I’ve had over 4 years to see her training in action multiple times. I’m pretty damned secure in my training. You worry about YOUR dog and I’ll worry about mine. Thanks.

          (BTW, seems you were the self-professed expert above on why leash laws were created so don’t give me crap about that.)

  • Susan

    My boxer-pit mix was mauled by a free roaming lab with an owner that had no control over her dog. Ever since, my dog has been skittish. I deliberately take her only to leash required areas and I am always irritated by people who let their dogs run free in leash law parks. There are plenty of dog parks and off leash areas if you want your dog to be free. Respect the laws, people and dogs that need space.

  • Susan

    Also, I was a vet tech and EVERY person who brought in a dog that was in a fight or hit by a car said the EXACT same thing: This never happened before, they always listen and don’t run in the street or bite anyone!

  • Sheila K

    Another reason to keep your dog on leash: allergies. A dog once jumped up on me, not aggressively, but put its nose and snout on my pants. The dog’s owner saw nothing wrong with this. “Oh, don’t worry, she’s a friendly dog.” Guess what, I don’t want even a friendly dog’s snot/spit on my pants!
    I ended up having a very strong allergic reaction to that one or two second encounter with the dog. My eyes started itching and burning like crazy while I was driving to work, which was both a misery and dangerous. I ended up having to throw my contacts out that day. I like dogs, but please, keep yours on a leash and off of me.

  • Katie

    Sounds to me like you were being kind of a bitch.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Katie, after the fact, yes, I admit to being a bitch. Like I’ve said several time, I shouldn’t have called her stupid. But my heart was racing, my dog was freaked, and I was stuck in a narrow, confined area of the trail, with a long stretch of privacy fence on one side and a huge hill on the other. I just wanted to get the heck out of there.

      • KaD

        I’m so fed up with arrogant irresponsible dog owners I would have called her alot worse. She WAS being stupid. I keep Animal Control on my cell phone exactly for this reason.

  • Lily J

    If you are in an area where leashes are required by law, your dog should be on leash at all times … period. Saying you don’t need to follow leash laws because you have “complete control” over your dog is like saying you don’t need to follow speed limits because you have “complete control” over your vehicle. You can never be 100% sure what is going to happen or what lies ahead, or when it will be the day that the one thing you could never have predicted happening, happens. Putting yourself above the law poses the potential for putting yourself/your dogs and others at risk.

    Many people are afraid of dogs. Seniors, people with children, and others (including people whose dogs may not be good with other dogs, or people who just don’t want their dogs interacting with strange dogs, for whatever reason) should be able to go to certain parks without worrying whether they are going to be approached or jumped on by offleash dogs. They don’t want to, and shouldn’t have to, wonder which offleash dog is safe and under control and which one isn’t, when they are in areas where leashes are required by law. They shouldn’t have to be afraid to go to places where leashes are required by law because certain people feel that laws do not apply to them.

    Kudos to you if you have trained a great recall (as all dog owners should). However, breaking the law is irresponsible and inconsiderate. If you want to run your dog offleash, go somewhere it is legally permitted.

    • latrenda

      yes! If I go to a park and see off leash dogs, I don’t even get out of my car. I just go to another park. I can’t tell from 50 feet away whether or not the dog “friendly”, “under voice control” etc..
      On some days, I have to go to 3 parks before I find one that doesn’t have loose dogs.

      Frustrating thing is that I go to the dog park and there are leashed dog in there. Uuugh!

      Another reason to keep dogs onleash. People carry mace, tasers, cattle prods etc.. Someone who has been attacked before might be very quick to use these devices.

      • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

        That’s fine by me. My dog doesn’t approach anyone so I don’t have to worry about mace (which I think may be illegal to carry in my state), tasers (also potentially illegal) and cattle prods (I don’t even know anyone who carries such a thing).

        If you can’t tell from 50 feet away that a dog is under control then you aren’t really paying much attention. The dog who is focused on his owner, who is playing ball with his owner, who is practicing recalls or something else is under control. The dog who is running toward you with the owner running behind him shouting “he’s friendly” probably isn’t under control.

        Of course, at 50 feet away from a road with cars or 50 feet away from anyone, my dog is leashed. I doubt you could tell at 300+ feet away if my dog is leashed or not.

        • Lily J

          I’m sure plenty of people who aren’t familiar with dogs, and a fair number who are, can’t tell whether a dog is either leashed and/or under control.

          People who may fear dogs, parents who may be managing toddlers, seniors who may have poor eyesight, etc., should not have to stand at the edge of a park or sit in the car and try to judge which dogs are on or off leash, and whether or not the offleash dogs are actually under control or just appear to be. (Plus, there is no 100% guarantee that any dog will remain under control 100% of the time, regardless of training. Any owner who thinks they have 100% compliance is kidding themselves.)

          Point is that in an area where there IS a leash law, people should NOT have to wonder or try to predict what a dog is going to do next, because ALL dogs should be leashed.

        • DR

          “If you can’t tell from 50 feet away that a dog is under control then you aren’t really paying much attention. The dog who is focused on his owner, who is playing ball with his owner, who is practicing recalls or something else is under control.”
          Disagree. Cannot tell you how many horrible experiences have started with me witnessing a dog focused on the owner and then becoming distracted (by prey animals, by me, by my dogs, by my jogging). They abandon their owners, blow off their training, and charge full speed ahead.

          It is entirely inconsiderate to disregard leash laws because you think you’re above them and, on top of it all, scare the life out of someone.

          I have panic attacks because “focused, well-trianed dogs” became distracted and came at me. I have every right to jog in my neighborhood. I should NOT be mowed down by your 100 lb lab or you 50 lb pit or your 65 lb dalmatian. And I should not live in fear every time I see an off-leash dog. But I do.

          Please think about OTHER PEOPLE. Follow the laws. Please stop inflicting terror on us who have been attacked.

  • Renee

    I encounter the same problem in California. Not just on trails, on sidewalks as well. For dog charging at us I try to carry something: a spray, small bits of food- to throw at the dog, umbrella, chuck-it, and try to have at least a 10′ leash – I put my dog in a down stay and spin/whirl the lease. I have only used it once and it worked.

  • Randi

    Im sooo happy that you & Bandit were not hurt! I had a wonderful German shepherd who was trained with the police dept, he was well mannered,smart,and loved! But the one thing the police trainer taught me was is that my dog was as dangerous as a gun! That I had to have control over him at all times!! Without exception!! Even well trained (and ALL dogs should be trained! For they’er safety,and other peoples safety!) their is never any reason for your dog to be unleashed unless he is running in his own fenced back yard,and still you should be ther keeping an eye on him! It makes me so furious that some breeds that are without qiestion more dangerous than others get a bad rap( which I realize that wasn’t what you were saying) because they’re humans don’t take responsibility for them! If your dog is large enough,and stronge enough to out run a grown man,and pull that same man to the ground and kill him then you MUST have control of him or you should not be allowed to have him at all!!

    • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

      I’m sorry that your “trainer” told you that your dog was as dangerous as a gun. I do have control over my dog, but not like you seem to indicate.

      And what if you have no fenced in backyard? Your dog never gets to play fetch? Never gets any off leash play time? They live their entire life at the end of a 6-foot tether? That doesn’t quite seem right.

      • Barbara

        That’s why you GET a fenced yard, Michelle. My dog isn’t a dog park dog. I’m renting a home with a fenced yard – pretty much for her. I’m about to close on my first house – fenced yard.

        Michelle you are coming up with every excuse in the universe not to leash your dog but frankly you are an example of what the author said, and your failure to leash your dog is very very selfish.

        • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

          Well, gee. Not all of us can afford fences. And some of us rent. I don’t even have a YARD much less a fenced in one. The houses with fenced in yards around here are expensive and few and far between. It must be nice to have a lot of money, but some of us don’t. I’d rather that go to my dog classes than a yard I don’t really need.

          Fenced in yards are also boring for a dog like mine, except as a place to train agility (which is the only thing I’d do in a yard with my dog).

          So it’s selfish of me to have trained my dog to the point at which she can be safely off leash, not approach other dogs or people, not chase wildlife, recall and stop instantly and be leashed up so other people feel safe? Golly me. How silly. I guess I’ll just slap a retractable leash on her and let her run up to everyone because hey, she’s on a leash!

          I have no “excuses” for letting her off. I put in the training. I enjoy giving her freedom. And I’m not going to stop that.

          • Jean

            I am so in agreement with you Michelle! I take my dog’s training very seriously. I leash her up when I see people not because I think she will do something wrong but because I am cautious of what the people and their dogs might do. And I admit it. I am totally selfish about my dog. I can not throw the ball with a Chuck It in the dog park or my yard without it going over the fence and my dog loves to run. I pay my property taxes like everybody else but the baseball fields in our parks are fenced… I can’t use them. The soccer fields are closed to the public after soccer season. same with lacrosse. A tennis court is useless. I pay the same taxes, yet because my choice of enjoyment is my dog, I am forced to keep her on a 6′ leash. I view my refusal to obey the leash law as an act of civil disobedience. And I feel justified in doing so because, as you have, I have made sure my dog has been properly trained and is not a threat.

          • Barbara

            I rent too (until I close on my house this month). I CHOSE to move from an apartment into a very small rental house with a fenced yard so my dog could have off leash time. We also go on hikes/daily walks, but she needs to be able to run off leash too. I do not have a lot of money and my rental house is crappy except for the yard.

            You certainly could either find such a place OR you could find a way to find a fenced yard for rent (agility fields do this) OR you could find a LEGAL off leash place and take your dog there. you do not HAVE to do what you’re doing which frankly places others at risk including children. Selfish, selfish woman. It’s all about you, not your dog.

        • KaD

          THANK YOU

      • Rojo

        My neighbors’ sweet lab never had to live her entire life at the end of a six foot tether. They took her to obedience class and she was a very well behaved girl so they often walked with her off leash on their quiet street – until the night that she unexpectedly decided to chase a cat across the road, right in front of the only car anywhere in sight. Her excellent training did not prevent that one random moment of unpredictability when her prey drive overwhelmed it. Dead dog, traumatized neighbors and the driver of the car suffered fiercely from circumstances that he could not have anticipated.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Randi, I’m glad we weren’t hurt, too, and as one reader pointed out I should have been nicer to the woman, so I do feel badly about that.

  • Jean

    I’ll admit that I am one of those “bad” people that let my German Shepherd off leash on the park path, but only if I have a clear view ahead and behind me. I listen for the jangle of dog tags and keep my dog close but also allow her the freedom of sniffing the bushes and not having the monotony of walking at the same pace as myself. I leash up as soon as I hear or see anybody. We work daily on recall and I do not allow her to approach other dogs unless the owners say it’s ok (and she is on a leash). Just today a large bully breed rushed over off leash (my dog was on a leash) and started growling as her owner walked over to us, assuring me she was friendly. There would have been a problem if the owner hadn’t grabbed his dog. I didn’t like it but I wasn’t rude about it. As for “it’s the law”, how many of you have exceeded the speed limit with your car? A woman jogger went out of her way to tell me my dog should be on a leash when we were the only two people in the park and my dog was chasing a ball and totally ignoring her. (It’s kinda hard to chase a ball on a 6′ leash) I thought SHE was rude! And I’ll bet she’s the same witch that speeds down my street in her SUV!

    • http://elizabethc88@aol.com Elizabeth

      The two things have nothing to do with each other. “Why should I have to follow the law? I’m sure there is some law YOU don’t follow!”. It’s a sad world when we resort to a rationale like that.

      • Jean

        Breaking a law is breaking a law. If you go over the speed limit, you break a law. If your dog is off leash, you break a law. How are they not alike? It is hypocritical to condemn someone for having their dog off leash if you are a law breaker yourself.
        I think what happened to Joanne is wrong. The owner of the German Shepherd should have leashed up immediately upon seeing Joanne. If you are not able to control your dog, it should never be off leash. It is people like that GSD owner that have caused leash laws to happen. But if there is no one in the park, call me a criminal because I will throw the ball.

  • Niki

    Thank you for this! I’ve been in a similar situation. Early spring, so still snow on the ground, out hiking a popular trail with my bull mastiff, my son and his friend. A small group of hikers came along with 3 large dogs off leash, all of which came charging at us out of nowhere. My dog does NOT respond well to strange dogs and dragged me up to my waist in the creek fending them off before I got planted well enough to hold him and the owners finally got their dogs to recall. We were miles from the car so it was a long, cold hike back. And they didn’t get why I snapped at them that their dogs were supposed to be on leash and told me that it was MY dog that was out of control.

  • Jackie

    Well, here’s the thing. If you want to take your dog off leash, go to an area where that is allowed. I live near miles and miles of forest service trails. Dogs are allowed off leash there. So I let them off, expect to meet some other dogs, and deal with it accordingly. When I am in an area that has leash laws, they are on leash. Period. People just need to obey the laws!

    • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

      You’re lucky you live near such a place. Many of us don’t. The only real off leash place here is the dog park and I won’t take my dog there as it’s awful. If I had the option of interesting off leash places to go, I would go there. But the nearest places are well over a half hour away and those are few and far between.

  • Jennifer

    So if you have a well behaved dog, you should have no problem with the idea that I might carry mace to protect my multiple small leashed dogs from your dog if he/she gets in my face. Right?

    If you can claim that your dog is under control, and you don’t fear your dog getting maced, then this article is not about you, really. It’s about all the people who DON’T have their dog under control, and who would try to get ME arrested if I protected my dogs with mace in their out-of-control dog’s face.

    If your dog would get maced? Suck it up and use the leash, loser.
    We are guardians of our dogs, and if you can’t protect yours, you don’t deserve one.

    • Dom

      I have absolutely no problem with people carrying mace. My dog knows a ‘mind your own business’ command that works both on and off leash. I leash her when we approach people (and in places where the leash laws are posted), but I can also call her off if someone catches me by surprise. She wouldn’t be in a situation where she’d get maced. Agreed with you… if you’re uncomfortable with someone potentially defending themselves against your dog, your dog probably isn’t controlled enough to be off leash.

    • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

      You seem about as polite as the author of this post. Nice.

      And no, I don’t care if you carry mace as my dog wouldn’t get anywhere near you. Though I worry about your own dogs if you use it to spray a dog who gets too close. I’ve heard nasty stories of wind blowing it back in dogs’ faces. I’m more prone to using a Citronella spray or water as that’s usually a deterrent enough and much kinder to my own dog if the wind happens to blow it back at us.

    • Jean

      Hey Jennifer, you have every right to protect your dogs! They are family! That is why I allow my dog off leash when there is no one around… because I love her and she loves being free. (Abeit for a short period) And that is why I leash her up when I see or hear anyone approaching. I protect her from you as well! :o)

  • Dave L

    Seriously Dom, did you read the article? You are not above the law, and if you are in the vicinity of my dogs, who are always on leash, I could not guarantee the safety of yours if it runs up to them. That’s reason #6.

    • Michelle

      Did you miss where she said that her dog doesn’t run up to other dogs? WHY can’t people get that through their heads. NOT EVERYONE IS THE SAME. Not everyone lets their dogs run up to other dogs.

      This is the same sort of nonsense I see from people who had retractable leads. “The dogs will run out into the road!” “The dog will rush other dogs!” Not with responsible people who know how to use them. Same with allowing a dog off leash freedom. In over 4 years my dog has never ever approached another dog (on leash or off) without my permission (and therefore the permission of the other owner who must agree to allow the dogs to meet). If it’s agreed to let them meet, I do let her off leash for those meetings (in safe places) as leashes can cause problems and occasionally reactive aggression if they get tangled and a dog gets scared.

      But running up to other dogs? Never happened, never GOING to happen.

      • KaD

        If your dog one day decides to just ignore your command then it will do as it damn well pleases, as has happened to many people who were sure about their dog before you. Unless you have your dog ON A LEASH your control over the dog is questionable, except in your mind.

    • Dom

      Did YOU miss the part where I said I ALWAYS LEASH MY DOG WHERE THERE ARE LEASH LAWS. And if there are no leash laws, I STILL leash her if we’re approaching other people. I get pissed when other people’s leashed dogs approach mine despite technically being restrained.

  • tammy h

    Oh gawd. Just quit making excuses. If the trails or park require a leash use a flipping leash already. If you want to walk your dog off leash find a place that allows that and go there. Leave the rest of us to enjoy our walks without dealing with you, your dog or potential/actual problems.

  • Elizabeth

    I may not have read thoroughly enough, but my issue is I’m afraid of dogs. Until I got my own, I was literally phobic (PTSD). Now I will meet others’ (leashed) dogs. I was attacked 3 times as a child. Once by an Irish Setter, once by a Standard Poodle, and once by 2 German Shepards (same incident). I’m old enough that dogs just ran free in neighborhoods. If I’m somewhere and see a dog on a leash, I’m pretty okay if it seems like the owner is paying attention. However, unleashed dogs terrify me. Just the fact that they are free is traumatic. It doesn’t matter that someone calls them back. The harm is already done. If I walk someplace because it specifically states there is a leash law, I should not have to worry about dogs that are not on leads. We have city ordinances requiring leashes. At one time, I was on my porch steps and a woman with a dog off lead came walking toward me. It was a very large dog. I have MS and poor balance, but at that point, I was paralyzed with fear. I managed to say the woman “Could you get your dog away from me?” She said “Oh he’s friendly.” At which point the dog came and jumped on me. I thought I was supposed to stay still, so I did. She called the dog off, and I said “I’m really afraid of dogs. He needs to be on a leash.” Her answer “He wouldn’t hurt anyone.
    I said “There are leash laws you know.” To which she replied “Shut up bitch, I’ll do what I want.” The next time I saw her with the dog was at our neighborhood park. A mother was trying to get her small children into their car because they were afraid of the dog and crying. My point isn’t that people who have their dogs off-leash are mean and nasty people. I’m just saying that unleashed dogs can be very frightening for adults and children. Think of an animal that scares you or even terrifies you, then picture seeing it free near your space and having no control over the situation. Minimally, if a leash law is posted or in effect, please follow it. That way people like me can walk without fear on certain trails and in certain parks.

    • Jean

      Elizabeth, I am sincerely sorry for the trama imposed upon you by the ignorant and inconsiderant owners of dogs. They should not be allowed the privilege of owning a dog. And you are entirely justified in your feelings. I will always keep your comment in mind though what happened to you would never have happened with my dog. That is the respect that all dog owners should have for other people. Just a question though, if no one was at a park except for a dog and the owner, would you object to the dog chasing a ball off leash as long as the dog was leashed the instant someone else came to the park?

    • Rojo

      Good point – how many of these anti leash advocates would have a melt down if I draped my big friendly snake around their shoulders?

  • Robin

    I’d like to add that there are many dogs ON leash who are still not under their owner’s control.
    We have one in our neighborhood who is walked with one of those retractable leashes, and he lunges toward us, a good 12-16 feet ahead of his owner who does not or cannot or will not rein the dog in, even when I’ve told him I (and my 9 pound dog) are afraid of her. The owner gets mad AT ME for “not liking” his dog…….I hate to be rude, but it’s gotten to where I am constantly on the lookout for them and if I see them I pick up my dog and head the other way. But it really really really ticks me off! The dog appears to be aggressive and threatening, but the owner laughs it off
    saying things like “If you’d just let them get to know each other, they’d be fine”. Guess what? It’s NOT going to happen! Grrrr!

    • Robin

      Replying to my own post. I appeared to be gender confused in the above post. The dog is a SHE but I think of most dogs as HE, since that’s what I have! Sorry. Dog is a SHE, ignorant owner is a HE.

  • Eileen

    Michelle, no behaviour is 100% predictable no matter how well you have trained it. If you knew more about behaviour you would know that. I have been guilty of letting my dogs off leash as well in the places I shouldn’t although mine are also well trained, come back when called and are not aggressive. But just suck it up when you get caught – you can’t justify it and pretend you don’t have to follow the laws that everyone else does. If you think the law is wrong – work to change it. However you are not above it.

    • Michelle

      I do work to change the laws and recently they’ve relented in one tiny area of one tiny park. It’s definitely not much.

      I haven’t “been caught.” In fact, no one out on walks has ever had an issue with us. If I were one of those people whose dog ran amok I would expect people to report me and for passing cops to give me a ticket. But that’s not happened (cops have passed right by me, nodded and smiled before; and when I do agility training in the park with my few jumps and tunnel, I seem to attract a crowd who enjoy watching it).

      As for behavior not being 100%. Nothing is. She could also break her collar while on leash or I could drop a leash or could have hooked it on wrong (one time I hooked it onto the thing that holds her tags and when she pulled just a slight bit the leash came flying off). But I figure the chances of her running up to greet someone is about as likely as those. 0 times in over 4 years is a pretty good record.

  • Katie

    This article makes a simple point about leashes and leash laws. But the bigger, grander argument is that dog owners need to respect other people and their dogs. My dog is leash reactive to dogs – and I don’t mean when they run up to her for a greeting – I mean visually, from down the block. If she can see or hear your dog, she is already working up to a stressful moment. We’ve been training this issue for over a year now, and it involves a lot of street-crossing, running away, and otherwise dodging other dogs and dog owners. You can’t imagine the amount of stress and panic that I, as her owner, go through when I see an off-leash dog – it’s a million times worse than running into an on-leash dog. At that moment, I don’t know if you have perfect recall and the dog will stay by your side as we get closer. I’ve lost control of the situation – all I know is that there is a good chance that your dog will not be perfect, as most dogs (and owners) are NOT, and will run up to my dog, whose response I can’t reliably predict, though she will stay attached to a 6′ leash via both her no-slip collar and her Gentle Leader head collar while your dog runs free.

    For the courtesy of those of us who have made it our JOB to make the life of a dog with ISSUES as happy and carefree as possible: walk your dog on a leash, and even if your dog has perfect recall, leash him up the second you see another dog and owner with their own private struggles! You don’t know what we’re going through. It is about RESPECT.

    • Michelle

      Or leash up your dog whenever you see another dog PERIOD. Because you don’t know from a distance what issues the dog might have. I’m of this opinion. Yes I let my dog off leash. But as soon as I see someone in the distance, even before I know if they’re walking a dog, I leash her up. I don’t want to get close enough to someone to see if their dog has issues or not. If I’m that close I’m TOO close with my dog off leash. If I’m close enough for someone to shout to me that their dog has issues, then again I’m TOO close with my dog off leash.

      • Jean

        @ Michelle – Yep!

      • Debbi

        Michelle, (previous poster) sorry to say, but you are exactly the exasperating owner we are talking about. You CANNOT predict if your dog will take off after something or someone even if it is in a playful way. Sorry to disagree, but your dog should NOT be off the leash except in it’s own yard. I have to walk my dog every time she goes out because of our living arrangements (we don’t have our own yard) and you can’t imagine how many dogs run up to us with owners that say, “OMG, he/she never does that”. What if your dog does decide to take off for the first time ever and gets hurt???????????? What is wrong with you??????? Keep your dog on a leash WHENEVER it is not in it’s own yard or home PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

          Can you explain how I’m “exasperating” when my dog meets no dog when she’s off leash unless myself and the owner agree?

        • KaD

          Thank you and well said. Like many dog owners Michelle is in complete denial.

    • Joanne Brokaw

      Katie, I completely understand. My other dog is just like yours. Bailey came from the shelter as a 6 wk old pup, way too early from her litter. Bad breeding, blah blah, loooong story. We took her in to foster, decided to keep her, then she and Bandit started fighting (and she had some issues with our other dog Scout, who passed away this year.) We’ve done a TON of training with them both over the last year and a half, and Bailey has made amazing, amazing progress. But there’s not glossing over it: she can’t be around other dogs except for very short, totally supervised and controlled situations, and she especially can’t be in situations where something is going to surprise her. So we go to the cemetery, where she’s familiar with the setting and we can see anything coming from any direction. Had I had Bailey with me when that German Shepherd charged us? This story would have had a totally different ending. Which is probably why I reacted so rudely to the woman. I know first hand how dangerous that scenerio could have been.

      • Lily J

        Kudos to you for stepping up and acknowledging your response to this woman could have been better. I agree, but I think you (and everyone who has called you rude, a bitch, etc.) need to cut yourself a little slack. You were in a stressful situation you couldn’t predict or control and were concerned for the welfare of yourself and your dog. Chalk it up to experience, and maybe next time you say something different.

        I think those harshly criticizing should try a little harder to put themselves in your shoes. Imagine you are in your car, either parked or in traffic, and a speeding driver whips around a corner and slams into you. How do you react? Do you think “Oh, a teachable moment!” and get out of the car and calmly inform the other driver of the speed limit, and warn him of the dangers of driving to fast? I think not! Or are you stressed and shaken to a degree where you’re not quite yourself, and perhaps react with anger, saying something you later wish you had worded differently? I think very few people would have the former reaction.

        As we can see from the comments here, some people feel they are just entitled to break the law. I doubt there’s anything you might have said in the moment that would have changed that woman’s ways.

        The question remains: How DO we get dog owners to comply with leash laws? Especially in our current society where so many people seem to believe rules and laws in general are for OTHERS, not them?

        • Joanne Brokaw

          Lily J, that’s a good question, one I’ve been mulling over all week …

        • KaD

          The only way resistant dog owners (which seems to be most of them anymore) will comply is with strict enforcement, substantial fines which increase with every offense, mandatory dog confiscation, and mandatory euthanization.

    • Jean

      To Katie – Yep! Respect. But the question is, how do you teach ignorant dog owners? Is this something that should be taught to grade school children with the hopes that they will share it with their parents? Should it be posted at dog parks? Should it be a written hand out at every veterinary and pet store or anywhere that sells dog food? Personally, I think that any one who owns a dog should have to sign a sworn affidavit that they will be knowledgeable about their breed of dog (prior to purchase) and that they will take the steps needed to assure that their dog receives the proper stimulus needed to keep them healthy and happy, that they will take their dog to obedience and socialization classes, and that they will respect their dog and when they take their dog into social situations, that they will respect the other dogs and humans they encounter.

  • JES

    Thank you! I completely agree. I’ve had a few incidents with off-leash dogs charging my dog and me. I have no tolerance for off-leash dogs anymore. I carry pepper spray with me on walks and have had to use it, although I wish I could use it on the owners instead. I’ve also called the police. There is NO excuse to walk your dog off-leash in a public place. My dog walks wonderfully by my side and has a great recall and “stop”, but that does not make us exempt from the leash law. There are places that are designated “off-leash” where you can take your dog if you wish. My dog is fearful and I chose not to take her to off-leash places. That is my choice. I shouldn’t have to worry about coming into contact with off-leash dogs in my own neighborhood or in any public place.

    • JES


  • http://www.k9diabetrs.com Natalie

    Hallelujah!!! And thank you!! I have a pptentially reactive dog and pretty much live in fear of the encounter you had. We don’t ask a lot… The leash is required so for our sake please set a good example and leash your dog.

  • Debbi

    OMG!!!! I so totally agree and I’m the one who gets aggressive with owners who don’t, not my dog!!!!!!! I want my space when I am walking my dog. I’m the one with the dog who likes to jump. No matter what I’ve tried I can’t seem to break her of this habit, therefore, I keep my distance so that she doesn’t jump on others and also it’s easier for me to walk her when she’s not trying to play with another dog or it’s owner.
    My dog, Lucie, is a Husky and she is often perceived as “scary” (even though she’s not). It is a very misunderstood breed. Regardless, I want my space from other dogs and people too! I have had many angry run ins with people regarding this. Not that long ago when I lived in a different apartment complex, they attempted to evict me because I kept my dog a safe distance from others. It was not because she is mean (although any dog can react to a perceived threat) it was because I respect others space, my space and my dog. The judge in the matter scolded the apartment complex and told them they would be lucky to have all dog owners who were so responsible. I have since moved and I do the same thing. I wish I had a blinking sign that read “Keep your distance! We like our space and we’ll respect yours”!

    • Marla

      YOu need a yellow ribbon. Google it – more and more people are following the trend and respecting the ribbon.

  • Debbi

    Michelle, (previous poster) sorry to say, but you are exactly the exasperating owner we are talking about. You CANNOT predict if your dog will take off after something or someone even if it is in a playful way. Sorry to disagree, but your dog should NOT be off the leash except in it’s own yard. I have to walk my dog every time she goes out because of our living arrangements (we don’t have our own yard) and you can’t imagine how many dogs run up to us with owners that say, “OMG, he/she never does that”. What if your dog does decide to take off for the first time ever and gets hurt???????????? What is wrong with you??????? Keep your dog on a leash WHENEVER it is not in it’s own yard or home PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Barbara

      she’s clearly a total narcissist who will never see it any other way but hers.

    • http://www.thespottedtongue.com Michelle

      Yes I’m such a narcissist that I took the time to really TRAIN my dog. I’m such a narcissist that I wanted to make sure my dog doesn’t harass other people or wildlife or other dogs. Gosh…look at the narcissist being concerned about other people. CRAZY isn’t it?

      Considering we’ve had her over 4 years and not once has she approached another dog, run off, or not recalled/stopped when told, I’d say the odds are pretty good she’s not GOING to. 100% isn’t too bad.

      I’m sorry you don’t trust your dog and you don’t have a good enough relationship to know they’re not going to run off on you. But I DO have that relationship with mine and so take care of her as I see fit.

      • Lily J

        You are very lucky to have a dog so willing to work with you. Kudos on what is apparently great training on your part. However, that does not in any way put you above the law.

        Leash law means leash your dog. Yes, YOU. Just like everyone else. Period.

      • KaD

        It’s a dog not a wind up mechanism. It can and does think for itself at times. Stop deluding yourself and stop endangering others.

      • Joe C.

        Michelle, You miss the point. It’s not about just you and your dog. Just because I don’t speed doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be speed limits. Just because you have trained your dog, you cannot be exempted from standards communities establish for the betterment of all.

    • Dom

      What about places where there are no leash laws?

      I’m not arguing with the point of leash where leashes are required. Nobody is above the law, me and my well-trained dog included. If leashes are required, I’ll either leash my dog or not go there. But WHY shouldn’t my dog be off leash somewhere where it’s allowed if she’s well-trained?

  • Shannon

    This is simple- kind of silly that you guys are arguing.

    1) If you CHOOSE to go to a park where there are signs to “leash your dog”- LEASH YOUR DOG

    2) If you find somewhere where it says “Dogs must be under voice command” and leashes are not required (I know of 3 parks in the Rochester area that have this rule, well, one is in Ontario County) then go for it! You are entering at your own risk that your dog may not have a “solid recall” and take off, or that your dog will be maimed/killed by a bigger dog etc.

    3) When I walk my dogs, I use a leash. I used to be VERY lax and let them off. As I got older, I became more responsible I guess, and now I leash my guys wherever I am unless it’s my yard (which is 6′ stockade fenced), one of the parks where a leash is not required or at a friends house with a fenced yard.

    I also carry a billy club, a pocket knife and dog mace wherever I go with them. This is for the off-leash dogs approaching my on-leash dogs in an aggressive manner.

    I also use a remote (it vibrates, Dogtra 175ncp) on my girl Sis. She has been known to have a very strong prey drive, and so when we are somewhere she can be off leash legally, I put that on her. She HATES the vibrate, and comes right back when she gets a “page” :)

    All this aside, the law is the law. you don’t like the law? Move to Canada. Canada has leash laws though, too. And if you don’t like the law, I sure hope when I am walking my dogs on leash, your dog has a REALLY solid recall because my guys are jerks on leash, and I will defend my 5 lb chihuahua with above mentioned protection devices:) Once, I had a pit bull approach me on a trail (at Durand) my dogs were leashed- pit bull rushed, hackles up- I screamed for owner (who was nowhere to be found) to get their dog. Nothing. I screamed at dog, who was “diving” in and trying to grab at my dogs. One swing with a hickory billy club and that dog hit the ground. Owner was pissed at me of course, when he finally showed up, smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone. His dog was fine of course, just knocked him out briefly. My response? LEASH YOUR MUTT:)

    • Michelle

      You’re just a wee bit violent. I do hope I never run into you, not because I’m afraid my dog will run up to your dogs, but because violent people scare me.

      • KaD

        Violents dogs scare me.

    • http://www.agilesheltie.com Renee Hughes

      @shannon – You rock. You have the right to defend yourself and your property. Off leash dog owners might not like the way other choose to defend themselves – that’s their problem. I too have dogs that are easily victimized and as such I have to vigilant in keeping them safe. Oh – and don’t encourage Michelle to come to Canada – we have enough people who are narcissistic, disrespectful, think they are above the law, and have poor excuses for their actions.

  • MTHS

    I have more to add that some may not have mentioned: where we live, keeping your dog on-leash is to protect the wild animals like baby seals who haul out on the beach. The dog doesn’t even have to be a menace or attack the seal; if he’s curious and runs up to sniff it, the seal will go back in the water when he desperately needs to rest, which can prove fatal.

    • Michelle

      Areas like this are usually marked (and should be if they are not). I never let my dog off leash to harass wildlife.

  • Karin

    Reading all the comments there us one thing that us very clear, everyone is highly defensive if their dog. Just found it interesting regardless of one leash, off leash, good recall or not. Everyone is defending their dog just as saying the words without actually saying the words “but mine us… ”

    I found the discussion and comments about Leah laws interesting. Where I am dogs must be in a leash of less than 6 feet and that leash must be in control. Law is the law and this was pointed out to an ACO who issued a ticket for an off leash dig at a local park but did not for the dogs on a flexi leash (greater than 6 feet). In court this was brought to the attention of the JP who dropped the ticket for the at loose dog and any other ticket issued by that ACO in the court that day. The JP made a point of saying that the law us the law and the ACO failed to do their job by choosing which to inforce and which to ignore. The JP stated that all or none should have been ticketed.

    Also wanted to just briefly say that just because a dog is behaved and on a leash does not mean there won’t be issues. Our dogs also react to our emotions and cues. It was stated that the dog was anxious from the rushing GS but was that because the dog fed off the owners reactions, unsure. Also if your dog is leashed and you tense on a leash that can be a cue to your dog to become anxious and or defensive thus causing an issue with an incoming dog regardless of if it is leashed it not.

    Just some thoughts. Great conversation piece. :)

  • Joey

    Google the Yellow Ribbon Project! If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon (or something yellow) tied to its leash, it means that the dog needs space and do not let your dog approach that dog. Brilliant!

  • cat

    Holy cow, why is it that we are arguing about someones post on walking a dog in a LEASHED area! I am 100% an animal advocate, love love love my two dogs but arguing with someone about how great of recall your dog has in an area that clearly states your dog MUST BE LEASHED just makes you sound foolish. Go walk your dog on a trail that allows off leash dogs if you want to walk your dog off leash! I do it all the time with my dog who is not reactive, the other one who is does not go along on those hikes! But why argue a moot point about leash vs no leash vs good dogs vs bad dogs blah blah blah when people are talking about leashed dog walking areas! Furthermore, I do not care if your dog is an angel covered in fur, if I am out walking my reactive dog and see a dog, any dog, any size, off leash, my heart goes through my throat and I panic. It isn’t cool, it isn’t fair. Just keep your dog on a leash or walk them elsewhere! Easy! *sigh

  • Steven


    I came to this discussion out of a sincere desire to understand what is wrong with letting my dogs run loose in a park where a leash law is enforced. I have read most of the comments and have come to the following conclusions.

    Most here have expressed one or more of the following
    1) The behavior is illegal – By openly breaking a posted law I appear to be a scofflaw.
    2) The behavior is impolite. An uncontrolled animal may give rise to fear and distress to my fellow hikers. A person, or their dog, might have had previous experiences which justify their fears.
    3) A dog off leash might themselves be harmed.

    Since I am the guy that walks his dog through the park without a leash let me give you at least my side of the story.

    On the concern that an off leash dog might get harmed. Yes, I agree with this argument. This is why my dogs are on a leash whenever there is traffic. However, on a remote trail, the dogs are better than I am at self preservation. In fact, after nearly 50 years of dog ownership, I have never had to seek treatment for an animal that was hurt while walking on the trail. I, however, have fallen, sprained my ankles, and suffered many contusions. Maybe I need a leash?

    On the issue that it is against the law. Yes I agree. Walking a dog without a leash, in a space with signs clearly prohibiting such activity is AGAINST THE LAW. We have been told from an early age to respect the laws and that they are there to protect us. I couldn’t agree more. So how can I justify this illegal activity? I am a realist. I understand that we all break the law (in fact we all break the law on average 8 times a day). Where I live it is illegal to add a wall, change an electrical outlet or replace a water heater without first getting city permits and paying the appropriate fees. It is illegal to not report the wages I pay to the gardener, nanny, or housekeeper; it is illegal to water my plants during off hours; it is illegal to collect rainwater; it is illegal to overstate your income to get a loan; etc, etc. There are countless laws in this country and we all have broken at least one of them. So the real question, and one I have been asked several times on the trail is, why do we break the rules? This is easy to answer: we break the rules because we feel the benefits outweigh the consequences. Simple as that. So the next time you see me on the trail, with my dogs off leash, and you have that burning compulsion to confront me as to why I (or all of us for that matter) break the rules, back up and ask yourself, “when was the last rule I broke, and why?” And voila, you have the answer to your question.

    Also, I need to add here that it is our civic duty to question the laws we are given. There was a time when it was illegal for a woman to vote, or freeman to help a runaway slave. Thank God there were some people who stood up and broke the law. In a healthy democracy all laws need to be questioned, reviewed, and openly discussed. In societies where the citizenry blindly follows the rules, without dissent or without question, we call them fascists. So since we all break the rules, and in so doing demonstrates a healthy democracy, get off your moral high horse and take a look at your own patterns of law breaking before assaulting others – otherwise, you probably will be dismissed as an unbalanced and unreasonable hypocrite.

    As for the first issue. You have had a previous bad experience and are fearful that my dogs are going to attack you or yours. I am sorry. We all have had bad experiences. Some of us have lost property, health, peace of mind, etc through some form of abuse. However, as healthy balanced individuals, we cannot assume that every person we meet is out to hurt us, or that every dog we pass is going to attack. By assuming that every off leash dog is a vicious monster can only lead to severe and unbalanced paranoia. Another response might be to smile, let the off-leash dog pass by and when things don’t end up in a fight know that all is well. And for those of you with vicious dogs, who are likely to attack my off leash dog you might want to consider the idea that your leash is the cause of his/her anxiety? Also understand, that if my dog is off leash, and your dog attacks mine, I’ll just take my dog to the vet – but as i stated earlier this has never occurred.

    As for why I choose to run my dogs without a leash? I am convinced they are healthier, both physically and emotionally. I love my dogs and want the best for them. When I see, from anecdotal experience, that my dogs are less aggressive, more responsive and physically healthier when they are not tied up and free to walk, smell and roam, I feel compelled to promote such behavior. I have passed countless dogs who have been muzzled, leashed, tethered and tied and the owners try to justify this maltreatment by saying their dogs is unbalanced? I suspect the owner is unbalanced.

    So as you see me and my dogs off leash, and feel compelled to vent and rage, I will just happily pass by. And when things go well and we pass each other without things going awry, ask yourself is my behavior really worth seething over? And when I get a ticket? I happily pay it and consider it a park use fee.

    (BTW, does anyone have the statistics of how many dog bites occur while the dog is leashed? In my experience dogs are more apt to become aggressive if they feel restrained)

    • Timmy

      Late response to a dead discussion, but I will point out that your unilateral decision to break the law you disagree with puts the burden on all other owners that follow the law. My dog is leash anxious, I agree. She also has a strong prey drive and is dominant. While her recall is solid, it is not foolproof. Other owners don’t appreciate seeing a doberman dominate their fluffykins as a prelude to play. So she’s on a leash. When you chose to allow your dog to be off lead in violation of the law, and she comes up to investigate my dog, I’m grateful that the law protects me for whatever may happen to your pet. Bear in mind the vet isn’t the only potential outcome, and I certainly won’t be chipping in for the bill.

      Owners like myself aren’t necessarily seeking conflict. The only time you’ll hear from me is if your dog invades our space. But I’ll be very loud at that point.

      Also, I’ve noticed that when this argument occurs, it is inevitable that the scofflaws will invariably retreat to accusations of fascism for those that insist other owners follow the laws. You’re not Rosa Parks, you’re just an asshole.

      • KaD

        Excuses excuses excuses. LEASH YOUR DOG IT’S NOT THAT HARD OR DON’T HAVE ONE.

  • Alan

    Wow. Just when I was feeling I am now the only person in this country who sees the mass influx of laws purportedly to keep us safe has gotten out of control – including if not especially the dog leash laws – I see Steven’s post; stating what I believe with all my heart….better than I was likely to have said it myself. I would add to it…..but since I think Steven’s post was brilliantly done, I think I’ll just say “THUMBS UP STEVE!” and leave it at that. (Quite aware I/we are in the minority. It’s ok. All of you who are mad at us and/or our dogs will be safe anyway, and I will simply continue to be grateful to have each day, one day at a time, and not be angry back as anger defeats my purpose….and of course my dogs would pick up on that too.)
    Thanks again Steven. You made my day a bit brighter.

  • http://www.pamperedpetsoforlando.com Eric Tomasello

    Most states have a leash law. I wish more people would obey the law, but they think its ok with my dog. As a pet sitter I always avoid other dogs so not to have any unwanted problems.

  • Verde

    After reading all of these, I’ve got to chime in. Too many experiences with leashed and unleashed dogs both who have caused problems for me and my dogs when we’re walking, but primarily unleashed dogs in a leashed area.

    Let’s take away how well trained your dog is (or isn’t) and any concerns for its safety – those are your personal choices and risks. However, other people have a right to feel safe in a public area where loose dogs are prohibited. People with allergies, people with legitimate fears, people who simply want to walk in peace without being concerned about whether the dog approaching them is friendly or not, under voice control or not – you never know. Additionally, there are often environmental concerns for why there are leash requirements in certain areas.

    You chose to get a dog. That means you need to figure out ways to exercise the dog that work with where you live, within the laws and the community, and the resources available to you. There are off-leash parks – hooray! There are more now than ever before. But, if that’s not a good choice for your dog, that doesn’t mean you get to make just anyplace your off-leash area. Again, it’s not about how great your dog is and how well-trained it is, it’s about violating the established rules of a community for your own needs and invading the space of others in what can be perceived as a threat to their safety. No one owes you a place to exercise your dog – if you got a dog and you don’t live on a wide-open private space of your own, then it’s up to you to come up with an appropriate plan to keep that dog exercised and entertained.

    I have three dogs – two older, medium-sized ones and one young small one. Of the older dogs, one is a disaster at the dog park and one is now very old and rickety. When I am walking them, there is a reason why we are on leash and in areas that are not off leash – the old one can barely see or hear now, the little one needs time to warm up to new situations, and the disaster dog doesn’t speak dog well. We walk in areas where leashes are required because I don’t want any of them getting pounced on – even in a friendly way. The old one can’t withstand it, it flips the little one out to be charged, and the disaster dog can’t tell the difference between play and threat, as well as being protective of the old one.

    I don’t want to have to be stressed about anticipating every last encounter with the dog coming towards me – I don’t know you, I don’t know what kind of control you have over your dog. My peaceful walk with my dogs is now a constant up and down of stress and anxiety as I try to gauge each situation coming our way. Stepping aside, getting my dogs to sit and wait (fun with the nearly deaf one), and then keeping the group approaching us from stopping to sniff, etc.

    Because of the personalities of all of my dogs, my concerns for their safety, and because of my respect for the fact that not everyone loves them and wants to be around them, over the last fifteen years I have gone out of my way to research good places to take them where they are allowed to be off-leash, I have found places to run my disaster dog that are legal but out of the way, and come up with other solutions for how to keep them safe, let them have fun, get them exercised, and keep them out of situations where they might tick people off. It’s possible to do, and it’s part of the responsibility of being a dog owner.

    So again, it’s not about you and how good your dog is. It’s about you, as a member of a community, following a legitimate law put in place by the majority of the community in order to keep things safe and orderly. If you disagree with the law or the rule, then figure out a solution that doesn’t involve just violating it because you don’t like it. You are a part of a community of many people, and pets, and you need to work with them, not against them.

  • jaydee

    It was a good article, but I agree with Steve. In certain settings, such as neighborhoods where there are children playing and sidewalks next to streets where there are cars, I agree it’s safest for everyone to keep the dog on a leash. On the other hand, I disagree with leash laws in wooded parks, fields and other similar places where dogs can run uninhibited as long as the dog is not aggressive. Here’s why, dogs are better socialized when they can run and play off leash, you can significantly improve the trainability of your dog if you give it serious off leash exercise time, a naturally relaxed dog learns better than a restrained dog. You will notice that if one dog is on a leash and the other is not, the leashed dog will show more aggression, once you let the dog off the leash the aggression turns into playfulness or the dog moves along. This is different that lease aggression. A dog should be able to be leashed without being aggressive. It’s cruel to dogs to keep them leashed and caged when there are perfectly good woods, parks, and trails to play on, off leash. It is a violation of their natural behavior. They aren’t doing anything wrong.

  • Penelope Gilbertson

    I am a dog walker. I have been hurt twice when other people’s loose dogs came to my dog. I haven’t a chance when the other dogs are loose. Would you recommend that I let go of the leash of my dog? I can’t be in the middle of the mess. I’m so fed up. Penny

  • Rita

    I agree with jaydee! For some dogs, the dog parks are far too small and crouded to enjoy a good run at full speed. And yes, Penelopee, if you’ll meet a loose dog, inspite of the law, it’s better to let of your leash than try to pull your dog away or take it to your arms. Actually I think all dogs (except aggressive) should be unleashed, like in several cities in Europe. Since puppy, they’ll learn to follow their owner and not to pay attention to other dogs or people. And if the dogs are unleashed, they don’t have to protect their owners and the encounter with other dogs is much less stressful and natural, like jaydee explaind. People are just so far from the nature that they don’t realize this.

  • Alana

    Really interesting reading! I live in the UK and here it is completely the norm for dogs to be allowed off leash pretty much everywhere (parks, woods, countryside, beaches etc). Just so long as they are not causing a direct danger or annoyance to people, other dogs, livestock, wildlife or themselves. There are lots of places dogs are not allowed (shopping centres, kids play parks, nature reserves, some beaches etc) but it would be very strange concept for dog owners here that a dog should be kept on a leash ALL the time when in public.

    I completely agree with Jaydee and Rita on this issue. The general understanding here is that the majority of dogs really do get along pretty well with humans and other dogs without their owners directly supervising the interaction. If properly trained and socialised, it is accepted that they should be allowed off leash to sniff and explore, run, play and interact as they like. Here, if your dog is aggressive, then it’s your responsibility to keep it on leash (and muzzled if necessary). It is then the responsibility of other dog owners to keep their off leash dogs away from you. The majority of owners of aggressive dogs work hard to overcome their dogs fears and triggers for aggression and tend to keep to areas with fewer walkers and dogs. In return, the majority of off leash dog owners will recall their dogs immediately to let a leashed dog pass, so this system works pretty well.

    All dog owners are expected to train their dogs to not jump up, chase or otherwise harass people so well behaved dogs are the norm. If the dog misbehaves, the owners can expect a strong telling off and the law comes down pretty hard on people who let their dogs injure anyone or anything.

    Most dogs over here are very used to mixing freely with people and other canines on a daily basis from a young age and are therefore very capable of communicating with each other and acting appropriately and politely. Maybe dog owners in the U.S. would be surprised to see a crowded footpath (trail), beach or city park here with many off leash dogs amongst walkers, pushchairs, joggers, children etc all just getting on with it and respecting each others use of the space. People EXPECT off leash dogs in such public places and act accordingly. I’m not in any way saying it’s always perfect and you do definitely get bad owners but they are a tiny minority and certainly not an excuse, in my view, for confining ALL dogs to a leash apart from brief visits to a fenced in dog park :(

    As Jaydee said, by far the worst behaviour you normally see is when an leashed dog meets an unleashed dog (or sometimes when two leashed dogs meet). The leashed dogs can become very vocal and strain to get at the other dog. Apart from genuinely aggressive dogs, this problem is nearly always solved by letting them both off leash to greet and sniff each other with natural, unconfined body language. They tend to either start playing with each other or more commonly, lose interest after a few seconds and carry on as they were before. It seems that when dogs are prevented from interacting normally, they can exhibit completely uneccessary aggressive behaviour and this often comes from simple frustration and confusion over the other dog’s body language (whilst confined on a leash).

    A much longer post than I had expected! Hope it doesn’t come across as too judgmental about the on leash system. I just meant it as an alternative perspective from a different place.

    • Marla

      Thanks for bringing this up. I don’t know if many Americans realize that our obsession with leashes in this country is a cultural thing, not the norm.

  • whitney

    Although I did not read all of the above comments, I read quite a few and did not see this addressed, so forgive me if I missed that post, but…as someone walking in a leash-only area, I want any dog I see to be on a leash so I don’t have to stress out wondering if it will charge at me or my dog (if she’s w/me) as it nears. I don’t know by looking at it or its owner if the dog has good training or not. Surely those people who walk their dogs off-leash among others must realize it creates a stressful environment for those who are obeying the leash law, people and dogs alike! Come on people, be courteous to the OTHER people and dogs.

    On another note, I was walking my dog today (we must have a leash but it can be any length in my state/city), and a man was getting into his car and preparing to leave. I stopped my dog to wait and see where he was going, as he was pointed towards us. My dog stopped and sniffed the grass. The man backed his car away from us and parked in a side-driveway. I began walking my dog again, and he rolled his window down and asked me never to “walk my dog in his yard ever again”. Oddly enough, we had only stopped “near his grass” to be courteous and wait for him to move his car. Weirdo. I showed him the potty bag I am carrying (we are in a slightly rural area, and my husband and I are the ONLY ones in this neighborhood nice enough to pick up after the very rare instances my dog poops – I’ve witnessed so many rude pet owners letting their dogs poop on my yard and even pee through the fence into my dog’s face, never picking up their poop or pulling their dog away from mine). We even sort of rush our dog to the vacant lot at the end of the street when we walk her, and then linger there, just to be sure if she potties, it’s there and not in a yard (and yes we still pick it up!). This guy seemed crazy, or am I overreacting?

  • whitney

    I just went back and read a few more posts, and Verde, I must say, God Bless You! If every dog owner behaved as you do, we could all enjoy taking our pets out more.

  • Steve Hamm

    I live in Albuquerque (New Mexico) and walk daily on dirt trails in the Cibola National Forest at the foot of the Sandia Mountains. After being bit by 6 dogs (5 of them unleashed) in a three year period, I took the time to learn how to deal with dogs so that I am immediately the alpha. I’ve also learned to stop yelling at the dog owners that don’t leash their dogs, as one time after I was bit the 70ish year old woman that owned the dog appeared very afraid of me; I think she thought I was going to beat her up. Despite her antisocial behavior of ignoring the legally required leash, I felt bad that I had scared the poor woman and I no longer comment when I see an unleashed dog.

    After a few years of wondering what the real percentage was of dogs that were unleashed, I started a spreadsheet to track all of my frequent walks along the trails. I guessed about half of all dogs were off leash. From March of 2010 to January of 2013 I’ve taken 647 walks of about 3.5 miles and encountered 1812 dogs of which 46.1% or 836 dogs were off leash in violation of the leash laws. Imagine that, nearly 50% of all dog owners are antisocial law breakers that really don’t give a damn about the health and safety of other people.

    As much as I’d like to chew out all those jerks that don’t leash their dogs or use leashes longer than the 6 foot length that is the law, I don’t want to make them cry or be fearful of me and frankly if I just keep walking, say good morning, and add the dog to my spreadsheet then I’ll be a happier person. By the way, when I see a dog on leash but it is longer than 6 feet, I do count that dog as being on leash even though technically the owner is violating the law.

    In the past two years I’ve not been bitten once. What I learned about being the instant alpha is that you can NOT ever look at the dog. You have to either look at the owner or in a different direction from the dog. The dog will almost always see you as the boss and it will not make a close approach to you.

  • Malissa

    Yesterday I was walking in my neighborhood as I always do since getting a new puppy in October of 2012. I walk him on a harness and since it has been cold here a sweater and also a leather collar with a leash(he is in training with me to walk and heel) and is 5 months old. We made it down the block and had crossed the street walking back to our home when two boxers out of nowhere jumped us. These dogs had no collars on and no leashes or harnesses and were 60-70 lbs a piece. They attacked us by punching at us and running around us in circles. My puppy is 5 mos old and 35 lbs, he tore his back toenails off on the pavement and had he not had on the police-style harness would have sustained more injuries. The owner (a man) and the homeowner (another man) opened the front door of the house and evidently the dogs run to get into the truck but they happened to spot us and attacked. Since my dog and I didn’t sustain any dog bites (like I said it is cold here and I had on thick gloves, heavy sweatpants and sweat shirt and a hoodie) animal control said they could only write tickets. The police never showed up but animal control sent two swarthy looking characters. I am debating whether I should still sue the dog owner (not the dog’s fault just a stupid dog owner). Had the dog’s had collars on the owner could have grabbed them and it would have been over but all he could do in his infinite wisdom was yell their names and kick them. I screamed the dogs are chewing my hands and I was standing between them and my dog. I’m the Alpha and supposed to protect my dog. I was screaming so loud and no one came out of their homes to assist. I just purchased a boat horn and bear spray and will be carrying my Ka-Bar full tang survival knife. I am 52 yrs old and a cancer survivor so not real steady on my feet but I’ll be damned if I am going to let two loose dogs ruin my daily exercise. This gentlemen finally got control of his dog’s, loaded them into his truck and drove off. Imagine that!!! Then the homeowner who did not help at all asked “Ma’am, is your dog alright?” I have a CCW license but hate to walk a dog packing a Glock 17. It could get ugly if I shoot the attacking dogs then the owner may shoot me.

  • Lex

    I just want to say that I absolutely agree with you. Irresponsible owners around here drive me nuts! I’ve been bitten by someone’s dog (it was small so it didn’t really hurt- but still- I got bit and it shouldn’t have happened). About 30 minutes ago I came running home out of breath. I have a pit bull and a yorkie. They are both very friendly with people, kids, cats and other dogs- they’re well rounded friendly babies. But I usually come across at least 2 off leash dogs every single day on their walks. Today I asked someone to leash their dog, and they did. Another dog was outside unattended. He saw me and my dogs and came running at us. I picked up my yorkie and we ran home as fast as possible. Eventually the dog chasing us stopped. It’s scary because you never know the temperament of other dogs- and you don’t always know how your own dogs will react to that other dog if they feel threatened.

  • ric

    A good read, however i must pleasantly disagree. As a dog owner i understand that if i take my dog outside of the house, he may encounter other dogs along the way…what a shocker. I encourage socialization. I encourage off leash training. how are you supposed to off leash train in public when everywhere you go it is illegal to have him off leash?
    I am tired of these restrictive laws we have here in the U.S. People are allowed to have cats wander the neighborhood unchecked….I know I have been scratched by a cat many many times. I have been bitten by a dog maybe once as a kid and it was my fault. I was teasing him. So should we have laws about outside cats being illegal? Maybe leashes on cats?
    there is also a discriminative sub-structure to these laws. because you are a dog owner and there was once this one untrained dog who attacked a person somehwere and a law was made…you have to follow this law. Get what I am saying?
    I have the right to life, liberty and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS according to the Declaration of Independence. If it makes me happy that I like to play in a park with my dog off leash throwing a tennis ball to him, as well as we are bothering no one, why should it be anyone else’s business and there be a law against it?

    • talonvaki

      I have no problem with putting my cat on a leash. He’s a show cat and a therapy cat, and he enjoys a trip to the park as much as anyone. Which we really have a hard time doing when some irresponsible dog owner wants to “play in a park with their dog offleash” and the dog comes and harasses my LEASHED cat…Don’t we have a right to pursue happiness in the park, too? Are we denied that right simply because my pet of choice is feline and not canine? I would never take any animal out without it being on a leash, because you never know what can happen. Seriously, is leashing your dog so hard? I don’t get it.

  • ric

    Dogs are completely domesticated, in that they can be trained to do most anything including a verbal leash. therapy dogs and service dogs are more well behaved than most people are. I can tell you one thing: If a dog runs up to you and your dog on a leash, it doesnt reflect the dog. It reflects maybe some poor training. I would be more willing to submit to mandatory(maybe the wrong word here0 training if you are a dog owner than stupid revenue generating leash laws.
    because let’s face it leash laws are right there with red light camera laws. They both don’t do much but generate revenue for the city/county/w/e, In other words they are a tax in disguise on dog owners and that is not right.

  • Steve

    There are words that don’t amount to name calling to describe those people like Ric & Michelle that don’t leash their dogs and say it is their right to do so. Anti-social. Law breaker. Irresponsible. Dog abuser.

    Dog abuser? Yes. Their dog is being subjected to significant risk of injury from other dogs and animals (we have rattlesnakes in my neighborhood), irate people, and accidental injury from bicycles and cars. In my neighborhood everyone knows at least one person that has lost a dog to a rattlesnake because the dog was wandering and got too curious.

    There are other words that do amount to name calling. Jerk. Idiot.

    For those of you that don’t leash your dog, I wish you would buy a farm in the sticks and take your unleashed dog there. Barring that, put your dog on a leash.

    • SnapperCarr

      Amen brother

    • Marla

      Umm, there’s this thing called “quality of life” that dogs really, really need. And sometimes that includes an off leash run in a forest where there are no cars and nothing awful is likely to happen. Sorry if that inconveniences you.

  • wildchild

    Walking your dog off leash is no different than speeding. The only thing you can do is call the police. What the person is saying is that they are willing to risk the fine and liability. This may piss all of you off but I am sure many of you break laws that are rarely unenforced.

    • wildchild


    • Diane Swiersz

      Agree !

  • harlan

    Interesting. I stumbled upon this thread after googling “First Known Leash Law,” which I ultimately could not find an answer to. I have wondered about that because leash laws are so very recent, and yet many people, including many of the commenters here, cannot imagine life without them.

    Many communities still do not have them, but my city council passed one back in the mid-70s, along with a “Stoop-And-Scoop” law. Everyone is in favor of the latter, but the leash law has been less universally embraced.

    It’s interesting to read some of the comments here: Like Alan, who posted on 11/16/12, I say, “Thumbs up, Steve,” for his thoughtful critique. And I was glad to see Alana’s 1/13/13 post, noting the difference between European and US attitudes. For one thing, she was quite right in saying that, by not allowing dogs off-leash, we prevent them from developing normal social skills, and we ask for problems.

    She echoed the thoughts of an Irish friend of mine, who says, “What’s up with you Americans? We Irish LIKE dogs!”

    I still wonder when the first leash law was enacted. Leave it to humans to think that they can “out-think” Mother Nature! Here we have as perfect a symbiotic relationship as we could possibly ask for, one that has been benefitting both species for over 30,000 years, and we decide to reinvent the wheel!

    Naturally, the Law Of Unintended Consequences immediately kicks in, and we wonder what to do about the feral cats that are killing billions of our songbirds, and we wonder what to do about urban and suburban populations of deer, which are ruining our gardens.

    These problems are directly linked to the “Leash Law Problem,” especially in the case of deer: it was simply a non-existent problem before the advent of leash laws, and if anyone wants a nice, long, read, google THAT!

    Feral cat populations are affected, too, though not as dramatically as deer populations. But dogs are a much better preventative/cure for feral cats than the popular, feel-good, but ridiculously-ineffective “Trap/Neuter/Vaccinate/Release” programs. These do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to reduce either feral cats’ populations, or their predation.

    But we continue to wonder how the human race ever managed to survive in a pre-leash-law world!


  • John

    I was on my way to the grocery store a few days ago when a cocker spaniel ran out in front my car. He died instantly, and I feel horrible about it. The owners came out with their little girl, which was absolutely heart-breaking. I told them over and over that I was so sorry. The dog obviously had not been out much because he just ran right in front of me.

    This has me really messed up. I can’t go a day without thinking what I could have done to avoid the poor thing. I’m also angry at the owners for letting the dog run lose. I just feel sorry for the little girl. She and I are now grief stricken due to the negligence of her parents. Please, keep your dogs contained.

    • Marla

      The key here is that the dog had obviously not been out much. A dog that has been walked in a busy area and taught what cars are is very unlikely to run into traffic even if it escapes the leash. Whether the dog is on leash or off, he has to be taught traffic safety – stopping at corners, waiting for a command before walking, etc. These are things that can and should be done on leash before ever letting a dog off. If these people were really letting their untrained dog run free, then they are idiots, and I’m truly sorry for you, for the dog, and for the little girl. But again, if a dog is trained to be off leash, either in the woods or on the street, many (not all) can be safe and non-threatening in any environment.

  • billy bob joe

    totally agree

    • joe bob billy


  • joe bob billy

    i agree with billy bob joe
    he is so right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • megabomb

    Stop talking about steven

  • jonathin

    its you

    • megabomb

      how would you know and no im not

  • Trickster

    Haahaahaa its me! Gavin prepare for a time that is unimaginable! Get ready for your worst nightmare! I, the trickster shall cause pain!

    • janathin

      it jhon

  • Trickster

    I said all with this picture!

    • Trickster

      And I still do! (say in a low scary voice)

      • janathin

        ill find you

  • avada kedavra

    This article was interesting, it provided a lot of facts, and I like

  • Jonathan Cash

    If you can’t control your dog without a leash, you should consider getting yourself spayed or neutered because you are likely an unsuitable parent.

    Fuck leash laws.

    • Lucas D

      you make no sense what so ever, idiot

      • unionmarykat

        Makes total sense. If you’re not capable of training your dog and must rely entirely on having your dog on a leash to control him/her, then you’re not that bright. Dog’s are hella easy to train, much more so than people. I’d much rather be confronted with a dog off leash than an idiot owner with a leashed dog who screams at everyone they see.

        • SnapperCarr

          Americans much.

  • Pingback: Training your dog with a prong collar (or shock collar, shake can, alpha roll) is not positive

  • Hateignorance2013

    All these people who think they can control their 60, 80, 100 lb dogs off leash are idiots. I love dogs but I cannot count the times my dog and I (She is always on a leash) have been rushed and attacked by dogs. The owners either stand around and act clueless or they eventually come get their pets and never utter an “I’m sorry.”

    My nice, pleasant dog is SCARED of other dogs now thanks to numerous attacks.

    I have had so many incidents in parks, in my own (mutually shared yard), in the street, and so on that I cannot ever relax when I walk her. My son is scared we will be rushed.

    I don’t want any more dogs thanks to dog owners like that.

    • Kathleen

      I feel your pain. My well-trained and well-socialized Boxer, who is always walked on-leash (after all, she IS well-trained, and I actually don’t think holding a leash is too much effort) now takes the defensive the second she sees an off-leash dog because of having been attacked several times. (Yes, she will still socialize well with other dogs, but not in that situation.) What should be good exercise and a fun outing for us can turn into a truly dangerous experience as she is now aging and arthritic (making walks all the more important). We presently have a neighboring Lab who is allowed to roam loose, and he has expanded his territory to include our property. He came after her the other morning, and we averted a confrontation that time after he was well onto our property. He’s still letting him roam loose, and I’m having to leave my own property even for the short potty breaks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Roberto-Ribas/528984077 Roberto Ribas

    Actually, a long leash doesn’t count as a leash, so you were breaking the law too. Six feet or less. And some of us obedience train our dogs so that they heal on command, and NEVER run off if we call them. I’ll bet my dog is under better control off leash then your is on…

    Second observation, is that if your dog was trained, you could have told him “behind” or some other such command word, and been in front of him, between him and the oncoming dog. Most dogs will stop with a human in their way, with a hand up, saying “STOP” in a command voice. So the fact that the dog was “all over your dog’s space” really speaks to you having zero knowledge of dog training, more than the other dog and owner.

    Third off, is your kind of a rude asshole!

    • Joe C.

      Roberto, this is not about you and your dog. Communities learned long ago that too many individual owners were not responsible for their animals so standards were established that, for better or worse, effect all owners. It’s what the people (including me) want.

      P.S. You’re (not your) the only rude person I see here.

    • Lucas D

      I told a dog to stop the other day at the park and you know what? It BIT ME. Keeps dogs on a leash when required to, and in actuality YOURE KIND OF THE ASSHOLE!

  • Joe C.

    More reasons to leash dogs – possibly mentioned elsewhere here.
    1) Unleashed dogs provide implicit permission to other owners to unleash theirs.
    2) Unleashed dog owners are much less likely to clean up after their free roamers.
    3) This issue should not be a matter of law. It is a matter of common courtesy, hygiene, health, and safety. All communities I know of where people live in close proximity have leash laws. I wonder if owners of off-leash dogs also decide they don’t have to observe speed limits, or noise ordinances, parking regulations, private property…
    As the philosopher said “Integrity has no need of rules.”

    • Bill Hicks

      If my dog is not bothering anyone/thing(because she is well trained!) it is none of your business what I do with my dog! Just like it is none of your business what books I read or what I view for entertainment! As for the pretentious fascist that wrote this article, yelling at someone in a public place is considered harassment and is also “against the law”! there are plenty of stupid laws in our society that should be ignored and defied!!

    • Marla

      If all communities you know of have leash laws, then you have never traveled outside the united States. We are not the norm, we are the minority.

  • JD

    If you dog isn’t friendly, maybe you shouldn’t have it out in public where there are other dogs etc?

    • Lucas D

      I can walk my dog in public as long as it’s on a leash, you have no right to say not to walk my dog. There is a law to keep YOUR dog on a leash for a reason. Think about it.

    • Jenn Clark

      Yes, they should probably keep their dog inside where it can never see the sunlight and only pee on the carpet in their home. Are you serious? Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, you likely have neighbors – some of whom will have dogs – and in all cases, your dog needs a place to go to the bathroom regardless of whether or not it likes strange dogs running up to it and getting in its face. It’s also worth considering that perhaps the reason that dog dislikes strange neighbor dogs in the first place, or the reason it’s hard to train out of that fear, is because said neighbor dogs keep running up to them while the dog is on leash and can’t escape. A lot of training for reactive dogs focuses on maintaining an acceptable threshold between your dog and the stimulus, then gradually decreasing that distance. When an unleashed dog runs up to you, all that training goes out the window. At the point where your illegal behavior is actively sabotaging their training, can you really continue to blame the owner of an “unfriendly” dog?

  • unionmarykat

    I agree that any dog off leash should be trained and under voice control. But I gotta say that your yelling is far worse than a dog being off leash. Dogs (like kids) get their cues on how to react from their owners/parents. If you’re a freak when another person or dog approaches you, then you’re dog will be a freak. If you’re calm and confident, then you’re dog will be calm and confident. Whether I have my dog with me or not, whenever I see another dog off leash I talk to him/her in a calm and confident way to let them know I’m in charge. Basic parenting/dog training stuff. Problem is paranoid freaks who spoil their dogs and kids. If you’re only capable of controlling your dog with a leash, then maybe you aren’t responsible enough to have a dog in the first place.

    • SnapperCarr

      Spoiled? I think you ment responsible.

    • Marla

      I agree completely.

  • unionmarykat

    And ditto to what Steven said.

  • Bill Hicks

    If my dog is not bothering anyone/thing(because she is well trained!) it is none of your business what I do with my dog! Just like it is none of your business what books I read or what I view for entertainment! As for the pretentious fascist that wrote this article, yelling at someone in a public place is considered harassment and is also “against the law”! there are plenty of stupid laws in our society that should be ignored and defied!!

    • RyanF1

      Leash Laws are for everyone’s protection. If your dog gets up and runs at me and my dog then what you FAILED to do becomes MY business. Just like if your off-leash dog gets up on other people’s business then you and your dog becomes THEIR business. Your rights end where others’ rights begin. Your so-called well-done training for your dog is no guarantee of aberrant behavior.
      She was well within her rights to yell at someone else in a public place because that person failed to control her dog when the public law in that place said all persons are supposed to maintain control of their dogs.
      You live in a society where there is the Rule of Law. If you want to live like an anarchist and call everyone else a fascist, then you are free to leave said society.
      Rule of Law actually makes life easier for you since you’re not constantly having to look-out only for you and yours. if you were a frontier rancher and there was no sheriff, then you’d be hard pressed to leave your ranch to get supplies since the homestead would need constant protection from you.

    • Janice Strawder

      Bill I don’t think your book would bite me or knock me down.

    • Rescuers or hoarders

      And Bill if your dog is well behaved off leash then that’s not what this is about. But if it’s not then you are breaking the law, bottom line.

  • Bill Hicks

    (and yes, I’m talking to you!)

  • Bill Hicks

    Yelling at others, calling them stupid!????! Sounds like Joanne is the one that needs to be on a leash!

    Here’s an idea for an article five reasons you should mind your own FUC#%@$ business!!!!

    • SnapperCarr

      Bill. I think you need a leash. Preferably one that would knock some sense into you. You are totally wrong and typing words on webpage doesn’t unmake the law or make what you are doing any less illegal or irresponsible.

      • http://isabellabrookes.tumblr.com/ Isabella Brookes

        I think he needs a muzzle. :D

  • Xena

    I hate people that don’t put their dog on a leash.

    Just recently
    some dumbass I barely know had their dog struck by a car and killed
    because they were too stupid/irresponsible to use a leash. Another time
    before that their dog almost got hit but the driver stopped in time.
    Another time or two the dog took off and they had to go find it.

    If they had used a leash that dog would still be alive.

    • Marla

      I doubt this is true. Dogs that are routinely off leash on the street are usually on voice command. More likely, they are dogs that either got out a gate, slipped out of a collar, or whatever, and were never trained to pay attention to cars. Even if your dog is never off leash – please please car train them, because you never know what will happen.

      • gsh123

        Maria, did you read the article last month in the paper about the husky who was with it’s owners off leash up in Lake Tahoe and ran off to chase a coyote? The coyote ran directly to it’s pack who promptly ate their dog. I guess the coyotes were bulking up for winter.

  • Frederika Zylstra

    Excellent advice. As a responsible dog owner, mine (who is an obedience and agility dog and well trained) is always on leash in public. For her protection, as well as others. It is the law. As a horse owner, I have encountered irresponsible dog owners whose dogs will chase horses. One such incident happened at a local park. An older woman with a GSD allowed him to chase a horse. The dog ran under the horse’s legs, biting. The horse fell in it’s panic, causing serious injury to it’s rider. The horse kicked the dog, in an effort to protect itself from this predator. The GSD owner was upset and wanted to blame the horse’s owner for the incident (!!!) In fact, the GSD owner was successfully sued. If you are going to break the law, be prepared to be held both criminally and civilly liable – you are considered responsible for literally everything your dog does – whether he/she is on leash, off leash, or heaven forbid allowed to wander unattended off your property. Livestock owners have the right in almost every state to shoot a dog harassing livestock. Plus you can be fined and jailed. Worth the adolescent rebellion, Bill Hicks?

  • http://isabellabrookes.tumblr.com/ Isabella Brookes

    I always have my dog on her lead/leash, but that’s because I know for a fact that if she sees a bird, she’ll be off like a shot. I don’t mind the obedient dogs who go off leash but doesn’t engage with other dogs or people without permission from their owners. Unluckily, there aren’t enough of those around these days. Anyone and everyone seems to let their dog roam free without proper training or obedience.

    For example, had that off-leash dog stopped bounding over to you at the simple command of the owner, that would have been fine.

  • disqus_llhJCWGt3g

    As a previous commenter made mention, Roberto I believe, long lead lines don’t actually constitute a leash in many municipalities and thus, the writer of this article and anyone else would be subject to the fine of having an off-leash dog in an on-leash zone.
    Honestly, I get that off-leash dogs can be hazardous for many reasons. Yet there are numerous situations where on-leash dogs are hazardous. Quite frankly, I personally have had more problems with on-leash dogs than I have had with off-leash dogs. In my experience, many people who let their dogs off leash in an unfenced area have invested many hours into training their animals to be consistently reliable off-lead. Especially if they have multiple animals! While again, personally, I have found that people with dogs that operate predominantly on-lead have a 50/50 chance of being well trained.
    I for one refuse to do on-leash meet and greets with other dog owners because A) Their dogs are pulling/lunging/acting excited which can easily agitate other dogs and leads to a very unhealthy meeting B) Their dog and my dog, if something goes amiss, can’t use the flight response as a method of escape from the situation. But I have found that most of the people I come across with my dog on leash let their on leash dog wander or charge up to my dog, to which I have to respond with a bodily block so their dog doesn’t cross my dog’s threshold perimeter. Off-leash, my boxer is a doll and ignores every dog or person on the path, on leash she has a very low tolerance for other dogs in her space and if I am not managing her 100%, she will react to the other dog but ONLY if she is on leash.
    I will also add, there are numerous hiking trails that are stupidly narrow and with rough terrain, handling one on-leash dog let alone multiple leaded dogs can prove difficult for logistical reasons, including passing others (one party almost certainly must yield to another) as well as balance for sure footing. Ideally, people should just be smart. If your dog is consistently reliable off lead and doesn’t go up to other dogs or people uninvited, let your dog off leash. If your dog is aggressive, don’t take it anywhere unless you can fully control it. If your dog is reactive, let other people know. And if you walk your dog on-leash, walk it wisely by leading it and managing it, not the other way around and any issue it has, let other passers by know in a POLITE manner what issue the dog may have.
    Just because a law is a law, doesn’t make it a smart one. Leash laws are pretty much manifestations of bureaucratic laziness. Rather than address fault in individual situations, the government wants to easily lay blame on one party without using reason. They want easy, open and shut liability. It is a zero tolerance law well meant, but poorly thought out and implemented. For example, say I am walking my Rottweiler off leash but she is heeling perfectly by my knee, which she does. Suddenly, a woman passes with her leashed dog and that dog attacks my Rottweiler who has not left my knee. Who is at fault? The law in many municipalities would cite the fault being mine even though my dog wasn’t the attacker and I had control over the animal. Point being, leashes aren’t the end all, be all answer. Training and common sense are. End of story.


    • Marla

      Many dogs are far more aggressive on leash than off.

      • disqus_llhJCWGt3g

        Absolutely. Which is why I don’t really like leashes and actually prefer off-leash dogs.

  • kinderegg

    Many dogs are well trained enough to be off leash without any problems. Many are not, and I don’t trust the owners to make that judgement call. As usual the problem is with the people not the animals.

  • Marla

    My dog is 13 years old and has lived that entire lifetime without a leash, except in certain specific situations. We walk to the coffee shop in the morning side by side, untethered. He waits in front of the door while I get my coffee, then we walk to the post office and get our mail. He looks both ways before crossing the small streets, and waits to be carried across the large ones. We say hello to the local cops who drive past us and wave as we walk to work. At the store, my boy takes on the job of greeter, gently and non-aggressively meeting customers who come into our small retail shop at the door. He doesn’t rush people, or other dogs. I can’t say the same for many people – they seem to feel fine about their children running toward him, hands outstretched. That’s how kids get bitten – but not by my dog. He has never snapped or even flinched.

    Occasionally, if I’m occupied with something else, he might wander outside during the workday on his own and pee on a bush. Sometimes, some well meaning person will pick him up, rushing around with the dog they “found running in the street” (which translates to walking on the sidewalk). I have taken to putting a tag on his neck that tells people where he works and that he can get there on his own, thanks very much for caring.

    People love to lecture me about how he’s going to get hit by a car. I have seen dogs hit by cars. They are not careful, well trained off leash creatures. They are dogs that have no idea how to deal with traffic, who accidentally escape a collar and run ecstatically toward that place they’ve been so carefully protected from all their lives. I am one hundred percent certain my dog is not going to get hit by a car, unless it drives uncontrollably up onto the sidewalk, and then all bets are off. He knows what cars are. He knows they are big and heavy and to be avoided at all costs.

    Look, the bottom line is – my dog is not like other dogs. I know there are dogs who can never be trusted off leash, the same as there are teenagers who can never be trusted with the keys to your new car. But some kids can. And my dog can.

    When my baby gets older, seems confused, or has a hard time seeing, he will go on leash, like the other off-leashers I’ve had before him. Until then, I will continue to break the law because I believe this gives my very trustworthy companion a better quality of life. Yes, I am a law breaker. But Im also as responsible a pet parent as you could find. And if the local police are okay with it – which they are, judging from the cruisers that pass us as we walk and wave hello – I don’t need anybody else’s lecture about it.

    • Marla

      PS – I don’t mean to imply I am some great trainer or something. Some dogs have the temperament to be off leash, and some don’t. I have had dogs I couldn’t trust this way no matter how much training they got. But all my dogs have always been trained to be aware of cars, whether they stay on leash in public or not.

      • twentydegrees

        I have a problem with this. As a guide dog owner, I encounter off leash dogs almost daily. Every single off leash dog reacts with curiosity, confusion or aggression when they see a guide dog. They either run up to take a closer look, lunge, growl or bark at us. Not a single dog owner that I’ve seen has voice control over their dog when they encounter a working guide dog. Off leash dogs endanger my life and my guide dog’s life. When an owner lets their dog run up to my guide dog, my guide dog can no longer safely guide me. When an off leash dog is left outside a store, I cannot safely enter the store. I am sick and tired of calling out to irresponsible dog owners to get their off leash dog away from me. It does not matter how friendly, harmless, playful or old your dog is. Allowing a dog to interfere with a guide dog is disrespectful, dangerous and causes the guide dog team enormous and unnecessary anxiety. There are hundreds of places you can walk or run your dog off leash and provide quality of life. Doing this in urban cores or in on leash parks is simply not necessary and you could be putting others at great risk.

        • Marla

          And yet there are service animals working all over the world, in many countries where leashes are not required.

          Perhaps I’m ignorant, and you of course have more experience with this than I, but I find it difficult to believe that non-working dogs are any more curious about or aggressive toward working service dogs than they are toward other dogs. My dog is as interested in your service animal as he is in any other dog. You may not believe this (and judging by all the absolutes in your post I’m pretty sure you won’t), but he says hello to ANY other dog only if he is told he may, and that doesn’t happen unless a) I’m present, b) I have asked you, and c) I have conveyed permission to him – unless your dog approaches him first, in which case it wouldn’t matter if he were on leash or not.

          And no, there are not “hundreds of places.” There is one postage-stamp-sized off leash dog park in my community, and it’s 8 miles away. I’m sorry you don’t like it, and you would prefer my dog to be leashed. But to say he is endangering your life is a bit dramatic.

          • twentydegrees

            I encourage you to read Verde and Joann’s comments way below as they articulate better than I did why off leash dogs create a stressful environment, regardless of how well trained the off leash dog is. It’s not about my personal preference or what I like, it’s about the law. The law in most North American cities is to keep your dog leashed, especially in urban areas. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be culturally as ingrained to ensure that all dogs are well trained and behaved in North America as it is in European countries for example. Thus, every time I notice an off leash dog, I wonder whether it is going to attack, distract, lunge, bark or knock me over. I can’t count the number of times a dog owner has told me “I have never seen my dog react like that”. I have been knocked over by an off leash dog just prior to crossing a busy intersection. Yes, off leash dogs do endanger my life, and dog attacks on guide dogs have been increasing steadily over the years.

          • Marla

            Some would argue that the reason it is less ingrained for dogs to be trained and well behaved in North America is BECAUSE of our leash laws. We substitute a rope around a dog’s neck for true engagement, interaction, and control. Plenty of people (including me, with and without my dog) have been attacked by animals on leash, with a flustered owner yanking uselessly from 6 or 8 feet away on the other end of a lead. And lots of dogs escape the leash and have no clue what to do once they do, causing all sorts of havoc and heartache a little off-leash training would have prevented.

            My point in entering this discussion was not to change anyone’s mind; clearly that’s not going to happen – well, maybe I was hoping a little bit ;). I’ve read nearly every post in this thread, and so far have found nothing that’s changed mine, so I guess I don’t expect that of anyone else, either.

            My reason for talking about my dog is to point out that leashes are not foolproof, their owners are not automatically in control, the dogs not automatically safe because of a leash. Nor is the absence of a leash a sign of an out of control, dangerous, or endangered animal. There’s a difference between a roaming, unsupervised dog and a well-mannered traffic-trained off leash pet. You can anecdotalize your horrible experiences all you want, and that still won’t make my dog a threat. When you use absolutes like “every single off leash dog reacts with…” at the sight of your service dog, I automatically dismiss half of what you say because it’s simply not possible that EVERY dog reacts that same way. You are generalizing, and maybe you feel that’s the only way to approach this problem. I can understand that, but most of life exists in the gray area, not the black and white. Generalizations masquerading as facts are impossible to argue with, so I’m not even going to try anymore.

            I’m going to step out of the discussion now and not respond again, because my dog and I are not going to change the way we live, and I don’t think any of you are ever going to notice the difference, since he’s not going to attack you or knock you over or run in front of your car, so there’s no point in talking about it anymore. Happy dog walking to everyone, leashed or not.

          • NoMoreUserNames

            You say there’s a difference between a roaming, unsupervised dog. .. but you’ve already admitted that your dog wanders out off leash to go to the bathroom and ends up on the public sidewalk. Then you were arrogant enough to speak as if the person who tried to help this dog wandering in public without an owner to be seen was somehow remiss.

      • NoMoreUserNames

        You’re a perfect example of what the author was referring to. It’s not the law except for if … it’s the law regardless. Kind of like we don’t get to say it was okay that I ran the red light because nothing was coming for miles.

    • NoMoreUserNames

      I guess your dog is also exempt from any chance of being stolen?

    • Janice Strawder

      Nice lecture. My dog is a rescue and is older. Doesn’t like other dogs in his face. We’ve been attacked more than once, busted my knees, and I recently had to kick a dog that came charging at us. The point is, don’t make us guess about your dog. Please put your dog on a leash as a courtesy to others that share the same walking space. Let your dog run free in appropriate designated spaces, or in your fenced-in yard.

  • Any Othername

    I am at my wits end with this and am going to do something to retaliate against the people who routinely allow their unleashed dogs to charge at me while I try to jog on the beach in my area. I had to stop jogging twice today and assume a defensive posture in case I was knocked down or attacked by a dog charging me. One soaking wet mutt banged into my legs and jumped on me it was so happy to have a hapless victim there defenseless. I started screaming at the guy if that was his dog and he kept walking because he knew I was ready to beat the hell out of him. I have a right to jog on that beach and not be charged by a dog off leash. I’m either getting a baton or pepper spray and I’m going to use it. People just don’t get that if a dog is charging me I have no idea if it’ll attack me or not and I could care less what you think about my safety. I shouldn’t have to deal with you or your dog. Only about 1 in 3 people with dogs are responsible enough to make sure they get the dog under control as you approach in my experience and I often thank them. They unfortunately don’t make up for the majority or irresponsible kooks who think you should be fine with fido bounding around knocking people over or charging looking for all the world like it might attack. I know some of the cops in my town and I’m going to make them aware of the situation.

  • gsh123

    I carry a wood baton and pepper spray because I also am tired of people and their loose dogs charging us and trying to fight my dog; Just the other day I got yelled at because this person’s small dog charged us from three blocks away and the owner yelled at me because my dog, on a leash, was getting upset and growling at his dog. He said I shouldn’t bring my dog to the park if it was going to be acting so vicious. My dog has been attacked by two pit bulls and a hunting dog off their leashes and no way does he want any dog, big or small around him. I try to avoid other dogs and situations that could cause a problem like this but when people let their dogs run loose I cannot control his dog and mine at the same time.

  • czarrt

    ya this fools just a little uptight-nancy. German shepherds are one of the smartest dogs out there and very well trained. im sure if she said the dog was friendly it probably was. next time just learn how to train and treat your dog and maybe your can be just as well behaved as hers was. just a little free tip

    • Saoboni

      GSD’s aren’t born ‘very well trained’. It takes years of constant training to get to that ideal image. Your German shepherd may come from the best lines and have the calmest parents, but if you don’t train him, you’re going to wind up with a ill-mannered poorly trained dog.
      The dog may have been friendly, but the German shepherd was most certainly ill-mannered and very poorly trained. Nobody should ever have their dog off leash untill they have trained it to know better then charging and over-bearing another dog. If she couldn’t have gotten her dog’s attention with a simple recall regardless of the distraction, then the GSD is NOT trained.
      If your dog will not respond to you from across a room filled with bacon, cats, and other dogs, then he should not be off leash. There is absolutely no excuse for the lady to have allowed her dog to enter someone else’s space without asking permission first. No excuse.


      Another reason to keep your dog’s on a leash;
      It’s horrible for the wild-life, and sometimes your dog isn’t as friendly as you think. I used to live in a heavily wooded area where people where pretty relaxed about the leash laws. As a result, every once in a while someone’s loose dog would chase and kill some poor animal, and occasionally that poor animal would be someone elses cat, small dog, chicken, or rabbit.
      There was one person in particular who owned a Samoyed. Samoyeds, by the way, are typically calm and well-mannered dogs. This one was very dog aggressive. The owner kept saying “He wouldn’t hurt a fly”, but the samoyed was infamous for trespassing and attacking people’s life-stock and dogs. He targeted my own Labrador several times when my lab was a pup, even jumping over my fence to get at the lab. It wasn’t until after I moved that the cops finally did something. The samoyed had attacked a cops K-9 while they where working and the samoyed’s owner was forced to either re-home the dog or put him down. Of course the jerk-wad put the samoyed down instead of giving him off to someone who might actually train him because he “couldn’t bear the thought of his loving dog being with someone else”.
      The attacks from that dog on my labrador are the main reason my labrador is a nervous wreck. I moved from that neighborhood seven years ago. It took only a year to get him comfortable with other dog’s again, and three years before he was comfortable with leaving the house for any reason. Yet, despite all the hard work, training sessions, and behavioral lessons, to this day he will lash out at any large, white, male dog that comes close to him.

  • Laura richter

    I can appreciate both sides of this debate. I COMPLETELY understand why some feel so strongly about people keeping their dogs on leashes. Many have made crucial, important points. Here’s my situation.. I live near a huge forested trail system in which I walk my dog daily. I have her on leash about %90 of the time. Occasionally on a crazy rainy day when no one is around or I’m on a part of the trail that I rarely see people I will let her off. ( Doesn’t make it right but I see many dogs off leash daily). She is not perfectly trained but listens most of the time. My question is…if my dog stands in your way or goes up to your leashed dog – I am actively trying to get my dog away from you and /or your dog. I apologize profusely, explain my reasoning and get my dog on her leash promptly. I apologize and smile again. No harm is done. I have admitted that I’m in the wrong and I remedy the situation to the best of my ability. Is it okay for one to clinch their fists in anger or to berate me about what a horrible person I am. This has made me fearful and uncomfortable not to mention has outright ruined my day. I’m sorry that my 10 yr old brown lab brushed your leg as you were trying to run by. I get it ( some people have had terrible experiences with dogs off leash) but people act as though I’ve committed an unspeakable crime and its disheartening as a human that people are soooo angry about something that is just an annoyance to them
    ( not referring to the one’s who’ve been traumatized). With that being said I am in the wrong by not following the rule so today my dog with stay on her leash %100 regardless of location or conditions.

  • Michelle L

    Laura Richter: How are you to judge if no harm is done? I have a dog who is a good dog, but leash reactive. When she sees a dog she very much wants to see them and gets very upset when she can’t. As part of her training she is learning to ignore dogs when she is on a leash (She has ample opportunity to socialize at dog daycare weekly). When your unleashed dog comes up to my leash reactive dog who has nowhere to go, it is not fair to her to expect her to not react. When this situation occurs I have no choice but to drop my leash so that they can interact without my dog turning into satan. However, you have now set my dogs training back with complete disregard for the time and money I have invested in her training thus far. So please don’t assume there is no harm done. And you have set your own dog up for a possible injury as you have no idea if the dog she is approaching is friendly.

    If you are going to let your dog off leash she had better be extremely well trained. My dog will turn on a dime if I call her even if there is a deer running by. She will do it with dogs too but this is harder for her and we are working on it and so she is not ever off leash where another dog would be unless I’d be able to see it coming from very far away (my dog will 100% recall with another dog as long as it is not too close). If you are still training your dog then please use a long lead that you can let drag on the ground and be able to catch more easily or step on if the dog is about to get away. And train her to go in a down when asked. My dog with go in a down even if I ask her from 20 feet away.

    And I would add to point 3 above: just because and owner thinks their dog is friendly doesn’t mean it is. Just yesterday I came across a dog who was off leash, barking and following and growling at my dog and me. I had to stop for awhile since there was this dog and no owner to be seen for a few minutes, and the dog was not letting us pass. The owner appears and says, oh don’t worry my dog is friendly! What does this owner think unfriendly is?! To my dog’s credit she stayed in a down most of that time although did bark and broke the down a couple of times (but this is beyond her stage of training at this point) and was wound up for a few minutes afterward – she would not have been able to do that a year ago in that situation.

    So please everyone, just respect the fact that you and your dog are not the centre of the world and that not everyone wants uncontrolled greetings. Maybe the person and the dog you come across, just wanted to go for a walk.

  • Rescuers or hoarders

    I think people that let their dogs just run free are lazy and don’t want to deal with their untrained mutt. Also I have seen many joggers and runners NOT pick up their dogs crap. Why is that fair? They have no conscious therefor their bad dog owners.

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