Is It Okay to Walk Your Dog Off-Leash?

You’ve heard all the reasons why it’s fine to let your dogs roam off-leash through your neighborhood or local park: they’re friendly, they’re well-behaved, and they always stay close, so what’s the big deal? Unfortunately, there are other factors to consider, and ultimately it’s usually best to keep your dog on a leash while you’re out for a walk. Here are some things you might not have considered.

1. Your dog’s safety. No matter how well-trained a dog is, accidents happen! What happens if a dog follows an interesting smell out into the road, or a driver backing out of a driveway or parking lot doesn’t see that there’s a dog behind the car? Both of these situations can be easily prevented by leashing the dog.

Also, what happens when you meet another dog while you’re out walking? Most of the time, both dogs will be delighted to sniff at each other to say hello, and then go on their way. It’s the exceptions to that situation that you need to prepare for. When dogs are leashed, they tend to know that it’s time to be on their best behavior, and if there’s any sign of unhappiness or aggression, a leash will allow you to bring your dog away safely and quickly. Plus, you have no way of knowing what the other dog’s temperament is like; if you happen to come across another dog with aggressive tendencies, even if the other dog is leashed, the situation can get out of hand very quickly.

2. Happy neighbors. Even if your dog is the friendliest soul in the world, the people you meet on your walk might not be. Plenty of people don’t like dogs for various reasons: they may be badly allergic or afraid of dogs, or perhaps they’re just not dog people. If that’s the case, an unleashed dog coming over to say hello is not going to be the icebreaker you might want it to be, especially if your pet is the type to jump up on people to greet them. This is especially important for small children, who can be easily frightened by dogs.

3. Hygiene. Dogs use their noses and mouths to explore, and quite often that means they end up eating something they shouldn’t. Garbage, other dogs’ droppings, discarded cigarette butts: they all smell interesting, and they all could end up in your dog’s stomach. Keeping the leash on is the best and easiest way to prevent an emergency trip to the vet to deal with the effects of eating whatever nasty substance was on the sidewalk! Not to mention that if you happen to come across an especially interesting spill, mud puddle, or other mess, you can stop your dog from happily rolling in it and bringing the mess back home.

4. It’s the law. Most municipalities have by-laws requiring that all dogs be kept leashed except in designated off-leash areas, like the local dog park. If you’re caught walking your dog off-leash, you could get hit with a sizeable fine or other penalties. Of course, there are lawsuits if your dog bites someone.

We love our dogs, and we want them to live their happiest and best lives. They rely on us to teach them how to be good neighbors and good doggy citizens, and part of that is learning how to walk nicely on a leash. So, for everybody’s benefit, including your dog’s, keep the leash on during your daily walks, and save the off-leash time for the dog park.

Questions? ASK THE LAWYER. Call 855-768-8845 or schedule an appointment at 855-768-8845. The lawyer you hire does make a difference!

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