In a perfect world, dogs could run free, without worry or care. But this is far from a perfect world. Too often, an unleashed dog can run into trouble, literally. A loose canine can get hit by a speeding automobile or chase after a rabbit and become hopelessly lost.
Yes, it would be awesome if pups could roam the streets and trails without being on a leash, but when in public PLEASE leash your dog. Here's why.
Places where you should keep your dog leashed
The following are spaces where dogs are commonly required to be on a leash:
National parks: Dogs should be kept on leashes for their own protection and also to keep wildlife safe.
Public beaches and parks: Loose dogs can annoy other guests and canines. In addition, a dog could get swept out to sea at a beach.
Restaurants: Some restaurants allow dogs on their patios and outdoor spaces. Always keep your pet on a leash to prevent them from begging for food from other patrons or getting in the way of the servers.
Your friend's home: Your friend may have items in the home that could be hazardous to your pup. In addition, some dogs will mark (urinate) when in new surroundings.
On walks: For your pet's safety, it is always best to keep them on a leash while on a walk. There are too many potential issues (speeding cars, other dogs, cats, etc.) that your pet could encounter during a walk to leave it unleashed.
Reasons why you should keep your dog on a leash
To protect others
Some people just don't like dogs or are afraid of them. For those people, the sight of an unleashed dog hurtling in their direction — even a friendly one — can be terrifying. Out of fear, they might back away, trip, and fall. Even worse, if a frightened child or adult runs away from your dog, it could trigger the chase instinct in your canine. This can sometimes cause even normally non-aggressive dogs to suddenly want to nip at the fleeing person.
You don't want to ruin it for everyone else
Over the years, the number of businesses, restaurants, and workplaces that allow dogs on leashes has grown. But that privilege could be easily taken away if pet owners flaunt the rules and let their dogs roam unleashed.
A loose dog could bite or accidentally trip a patron or an employee, which could drag the establishment into an expensive lawsuit, and no business wants to take that risk.
To prevent dog fights
Even if your dog is friendly, many others are not. So, if your unleashed dog saunters up to the wrong canine, it could get attacked.
It's also important to remember that some dogs are leash-reactive and can feel trapped when approached by a loose canine. Frightened or frustrated because they can't flee the situation, these leash-aggressive dogs are likely to go into attack mode.
When it comes to legal ramifications, protect yourself and your pup by keeping your pet leashed, no matter how friendly or obedient they may be. If a fight does ensure between your dog and another, if yours is off-leash, you could be looking at a hefty fine, even if the rumble wasn't necessarily carried out by your dog.
To keep them from getting lost or injured chasing after another animal
It can happen so quickly. One moment your unleashed dog is by your side. And the next, your canine is bounding off after a rabbit or a deer. Unfortunately, some dogs can be relentless when pursuing a creature and may follow it for long distances, getting lost in the process.
Even worse? Some wild animals won't run away but will attack instead. Bears — especially those with cubs — coyotes, snakes, or a moose could seriously injure your canine. And if frightened, even seemingly benign creatures, like deer, could stomp or kick your dog.
To keep your dog from getting hit by a car
Every year, thousands of dogs are hit by cars. In fact, between July 2020 and June 2021, one study showed that almost 93,000 dogs were hit by automobiles. Keeping your dog on a leash will prevent them from joining this terrible statistic.
Dog leash laws may seem unfair, but they are usually designed to protect not just other people and property, but also your pup. So, rather than think of a leash as being something that strips your pets of their freedom, look at a leash as a lifeline that could potentially save their lives.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.