Off-leash dogs: one of the most tense moments for us dog walkers. At JenLovesPets, we make sure your dogs do not have contact with unknown dogs while we’re walking them. This is for everyone’s safety! Even if your dog is the most friendly pup in the world, we never want to put them at risk by allowing them to meet others. This is why off-leash dogs can be so frustrating for us.
Safety is obviously the biggest concern for everyone regarding off-leash dogs. Our biggest priority is to keep the pets we care for safe. Off-leash dogs can threaten safety if they or the dog we are walking is unfriendly. We want to protect the dogs we walk, but also ourselves. We could also potentially be hurt by an off-leash dog, whether friendly or not. A dog charging (even if friendly) is rude in dog language, and the dog we are walking could understandably take it as a threat and defend themselves. This could end up in the dogs hurting each other or us if we are caught up in the middle of it. Consider the safety of your own dog as well, and weigh the risks of not leashing them.
Unfortunately, my friends lost one of their dogs recently because she was off-leash where she wasn’t supposed to be (with a friend of theirs). She got spooked and ran into the street at night. A driver couldn’t see her and hit her, and her spine was fractured. She otherwise had decent recall and had been off-leash around their neighborhood before, but this heartbreaking example just shows that accidents can happen at any time, even with well-trained dogs.
We are proud to work with reactive dogs and give them the walks and attention they need, even if it may be more difficult than walking other dogs. Reactive dog owners and walkers are often on edge during every walk. We don’t get the luxury of strolling along looking at our phones or spacing out (although I don’t think non-reactive dog owners/walkers should do this either, walks are bonding time!). We have to be on high alert for other dogs, people, cars, bikes, etc.
Not only can it be dangerous, it can also set back progress that the reactive dog has made in terms of improving their reactivity. A traumatizing experience can worsen the reactivity and make things more stressful for the dog, owner, and others in the future.
It’s the law to leash your dog in all areas that do not specify that dogs can be off-leash. People can be cited and fined for repeat offenses of having their dogs off-leash in on-leash spaces.
Your dog may be friendly, well-behaved, and obedient, but that doesn’t mean that the law doesn’t apply to you.
Options for off-leash time
The best option is fenced in areas, even for friendly dogs.
There are some trails that may allow dogs off-leash, but please only do this if your dog has a strong recall. Double check your trails! Some are strictly on-leash only, and owners who have reactive or unfriendly dogs often seek these out because of that, assuming that others will also follow the rules. Breaking the on-leash rules puts other dogs at risk. A good option for these trails is to purchase a longer leash. We’re not fans of retractable leashes because of the safety issues, but there are long non-retractable leashes as well. This allows you to be able to get your dog back to you quickly while still giving them lots of freedom to roam around.
We don’t mean to imply that your dog isn’t friendly, but allowing your dog to run up on other dogs is a huge hazard to everyone. Please take others into consideration when your dog is off-leash. After all, if a stranger on the street came charging at you, how would you feel?