OP/ED: Leash laws aren't just for 'bad' dogs
It’s so common to see loose dogs that people don’t often think twice about it – start thinking.
We have leash laws for the comfort and safety of everyone including our beloved dogs.
It seems obvious that dogs with behavioural challenges should be on a leash. You never know how they are going to react in any given circumstances but if you think about it, that’s true for all dogs.
Here are some reasons why every dog should be on a leash in public places.
Some people are allergic to dogs. Imagine your happy-go-lucky dog runs up to a small child, infant, disabled adult or anyone with a severe allergy. Most children are thrilled to see fuzzy dogs bounding at them. They don’t know that these dogs could make them ill. Dogs are attention whores. They will run right up to any stranger that is willing to greet them, they don’t know they are a nightmare for the allergic. Keep your dog on a leash and ask people if your dog can greet them.
Even the best behaved dogs can act up. Every dog – even obedience stars – will have undesirable behaviour at some point. Just like people, all dogs are different and every one of them can be pushed to their limits. A dog that is overexcited may streak across the road with the right motivation — fawn! bird! ball! chipmunk! new human bff! new doggie bff! butterflies! crickets! water! leaves! Yay! Let’s go! They all go nuts at some point. Every single one of them.
The calmest dog may nip if it is being hurt by an overly exuberant child. Having your dog on a leash let’s you prevent or contain this behaviour. Sometimes happy dogs get overly excited and intimidate other dogs.
Some people are petrified of dogs. Dog lovers often have a hard time fathoming why anyone wouldn’t like dogs — crazy, right? But some people loath them or have a deep-rooted fear. It’s not our place to force our dogs on them. Some people have had terrible experiences with dogs because they were bitten or their children were bitten. This not easily overcome.
It can be dangerous for your dog. Most of the time, your day will be relatively uneventful when you walk a loose dog. But there are times when your heart will pound, like the example of a dog running into the street to chase something.
Your dog can also get hurt when it’s loose because you don’t know what poisons are out there — like antifreeze. Don’t forget about the larger predators that can seriously hurt your dog. We have no shortage of bears around here and enough cougars to make you stop and think.
It can be dangerous for you. The only time I’ve ever been bit was when I had to break up a dog fight. Any time you have to defend your dog, you are putting yourself at risk. There aren’t a lot of dangerous people who will hurt you for letting your dog off leash, but I was fearful once when I was a new dog owner and my dog got into a pond at Stanley Park. A mad bird lover gave me a very aggressive scolding — lesson learned.
If you are letting your dog off leash in a wooded area, especially at this time of year, your dog may just come back to you with a predator on its tail. Why? Your dog is curious and will hunt new smells. Maybe you have a dog that was bred to be a guardian or “bear” dog. Sure, he will announce a threat to you, but these dogs were not meant to single-handedly take on a cougar or bear. They are pack animals. They know it … do you? When your dog is done ‘announcing’ the threat, he’s going to run to his pack. He’s vulnerable on his own. That means he’ll be coming back to you. Good luck with that.
You are setting a bad example. Seriously, all dog owners suffer when irresponsible ones flourish. We are lumped together regardless of how we manage our dogs and we often have to defend ourselves. As problems pile up, we also have to deal with tighter laws and more regulations. Not cool
Poop… What am I going to say about poop… all dogs poop. Picking up a hot, steaming pile of poop is the worst thing about dog ownership. Your dog is going to poop if he is on a leash or not. If he’s on a leash, you’ll know it when he poops. If he’s not, you might miss it.
Poop bags are available around town. I tie three or four to my leash so I always have them when I’m walking. Enough poop talk.
It’s the law … but you know that.
These are my personal thoughts on leash laws. We do have dog parks in the Boundary. Grand Forks has a small one by the cemetery. It’s not great, but it is a chance to let your dog socialize and get the crazies out.
Most people are going to carry on the way they always have. To you guys, I suggest you learn about emergency recalls and the Canine Good Neighbour course so you can understand what a well-trained, well-behaved dog actually looks like. These skills may just save your dogs life or save you a lot of grief.
I would love it if the local municipalities gave discounts to dogs that received a Canine Good Neighbour certificate. That might encourage people to be more proactive with their dogs behaviour, or at the very least it would reward the responsible dog owners.