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To Leash or Not to Leash? That is the Question

Discussions around off-leash dogs usually bring up strong feelings for us as humans. Often, we want our dogs to be able to run around and just be a dog. There are dog parks for this, but not all dogs do well in this setting, and dog parks come with their own set of controversies that we can discuss another time.

There are very important considerations that we should always think about prior to ever letting our dogs off-leash. First, is it legal for me to have my dog off-leash in this area? In most places that answer is no. If I happen to drop my dog's leash to let him run a little in a park or field, I am always concerned about impacting others' use of the space, so if I do drop his leash, even for a moment, we are always scanning the environment to ensure we are not deterring someone else from using the space. I have altered the course of walking my dogs on many occasions when off-leash dogs are around due to not knowing the outcome of the situation. The second factor I consider is safety. Could there be a rattlesnake, car, bicycle, or other animal nearby? I have seen off-leash dogs in areas where there are lots of fast-moving cars. This seems very dangerous to me. The last, but certainly a crucial factor to consider is; does my dog have a reliable recall in the environment? Is my dog going to reliably come when I call him? Will my dog come if suddenly there is another dog, human, or rabbit? Many humans and dogs do not want their dog approached by an off-leash dog as that dog may not be social. It is important to consider all of these factors as well as the individual dog in front of you. Sometimes, I just leave a light leash dragging (see the video below) so I can easily secure my dog if something changes in the environment.

So what is one to do in order to adequately exercise their dog? A very long line is one option. This gives your dog a way to enjoy the environment but still be tethered to you for safety if she opts not to come when you call. Another alternative is Sniffspot. Essentially, this is your own private dog park that you can rent. If you would like your canine companion to have a more reliable recall, such as in the video below, join us for our Beginners or Intermediate class where that is part of what we teach in those classes. Or, consider our 'Recall and Impulse Control' class coming soon!

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