Giving your canine companion the ability to have some freedom and time to explore off-leash is something that most dogs really enjoy and can benefit from. However, it can also be very dangerous.
I run with our Sammy 3 to 4 days a week and on our runs, we have encountered more dogs lately off-leash. It seems more people are out with the warmer weather. Most of these dogs had a very poor recall and did not return to their pet parents when we were running by. One of the dogs was on a long flexible leash. The pet parent was looking at his phone and was not paying much attention to his dog (or to me, for that matter). The dog ran about 15 feet toward us on a flexible leash, then broke the leash, and went after our Sammy. This dog did not recall back to his pet parent. It was a very scary moment, but luckily Sammy avoided the dog and did not engage. I praised Sammy enthusiastically and we ran on.
On another run, there was a man with an off-leash dog and I did not see a leash even in his hand. The man was on a bike and his dog ran over to Sammy even after I asked him to get his dog. I don't care for strange dogs approaching as I don't know anything about them and what if Sammy did not like dogs or this dog in particular? The dog did not pay any attention to his pet parent and continued to approach. Fortunately, Sammy knows his cues and I was able to move us away quickly. If your dog is not able to disengage with an off-leash dog coming toward you, one solution is to toss a bunch of treats on the ground and go in quickly in another direction. This has worked well for me and others in the past.
For those of you that want to have your dog off-leash and your dog does not have a good and consistent recall and you want a layer of safety, a long static line is an easy solution. Your dog can have some freedom and you also have the safety of the leash, just in case. Here is a link to long lines and other products we recommend. This is just an easy safe solution. We can, of course, work on recall with you privately or we teach a solid foundation of recall in our Canine Basics Class.