Is It Okay to Walk Your Dog Off-Leash?
IS IT OKAY TO WALK YOUR DOG OFF-LEASH?
Dogs are social animals that enjoy spending their time running around making a nuisance of themselves. There’s so much environmental stimulus for them to experience that they can’t wait to get out to the local park or for a walk on public land.
When you’re out with your dog, it may be tempting to let them off their leash to explore the world by themselves. Unfortunately, there are so many ways that this can go wrong for you and your dog.
Here are a few things to consider before you unclip the leash from your dog’s harness on your next walk.
IS IT LEGAL?
The majority of towns and public spaces across the United States have laws for leashing dogs while they’re out in public. Failing to adhere to these laws could wind up with you being cited by law enforcement and fined for your actions.
If you do decide to break the law and let your dog off of its leash, you’re liable for any damage they do as a result of being out of your control. What happens if your dog becomes scared and bites another person? What if they run into the road and cause a car accident?
You need to consider all of these possibilities and how they could come back to haunt you after you drop the leash. Having to pay someone’s hospital bills or insurance excess could amount to tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damages – and that’s not including the legal fines involved.
In some cases, if your dog bites a person, the court may require your pet to be put down. In this case, a fun walk in the park can turn into a nightmare where you lose your furry friend forever.
OTHER DOGS IN THE AREA
Before you take your dog’s leash off, look around the area for any other dogs. Even if your dog is socialized to behave around other animals, that doesn’t mean that the other dog has the same training.
A dogfight is a nasty thing to behold. Trying to break up dogs when they’re in the heat of combat could result in injury to your animal, or yourself. Avoid a trip to the emergency room or the vet and make sure you check for other dogs first.
OTHER THREATS TO YOUR DOG
It’s not only other dogs you need to be wary of when letting your pooch off the leash. Other threats in the park or nearby areas pose a risk to your dog as well. Consider these points before allowing your dog off the leash.
• Are there vehicles in the area?
• What if your dog runs away and gets lost or stolen?
• What if they stop to eat a bit of food that’s harmful to them?
• What if they get attacked by a wild animal?
• What if the dog damages private property?
• What if animal control finds them?
• What if they bother other people?
All of these risks and more exist to you and your dog. Stop and think for a minute before you let your dog run free.
WRAPPING UP – TRAINING YOUR DOG FOR OFF-LEASH WALKING
With all these points discussed in mind, it’s still possible to let your dog off the leash for a walk if they’re well trained. Before you let go, make sure your dog has behavior training and is capable of the following:
• Heeling when told.
• No leash tugging.
• Returning to you when called.
• Responding to verbal commands like “stay,” “watch me,” or “drop it.”
With the right training, it’s possible to walk your dog off of their leash. However, it’s important to remember that you’re still responsible for your dog’s actions while they’re off the leash. If carrying the leash is the main reason for wanting to walk your dog without a leash, consider a hands-free leash as a safer solution!