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Why I Like Leash Laws
The downside of free-roaming dogs
Daisy

Last week, the Denver Police Department and Animal Care and Control held a friendly press conference reminding dog owners to keep their pets leashed, or face fines of at least $80.

 
The conference was held at Cheesman Park, the city’s favorite place to illegally let dogs run loose. Hilariously, a man let his dog cavort, leashless, on the lawn during the press conference, apparently unaware of exactly who was gathered at the park—until a couple officers started heading his way. (He got off with a warning.)
 
There was no real news at the conference. No laws have changed. It was just a springtime reminder to dog owners that they should only let dogs go leashless in designated dog parks.
 
It probably won’t change matters much, but I’m happy the city is making an effort. As the owner of a dog-aggressive dog in a canine-filled city, anything that keeps pups on leashes is fine by me.
My husband and I got Daisy from a shelter almost four years ago. She’s a mutt who looks like a miniature wolf, or a blonde fox, and is often mistaken for a Shiba Inu. She is sweet, loving and probably the cuddliest dog I’ve ever met—when she’s around humans. But the mere sight of another dog sends her into a defensive rage.
 
They warned us about it at the shelter. When we took her on a get-to-know-you walk, we saw how she pulled mightily on her lead when she spied another dog. At the time, she seemed so small and cute that it wasn’t a big deal. We were so wrong.
 
After adding on about 15 pounds of healthy weight—she was terribly skinny in the shelter—Daisy got back to fighting strength. And she was ready to throw down. In a neighborhood filled with leashless, laid-back Labs and Frisbee-loving Aussie shepherds, Daisy was like Tony Soprano arriving on a hippie commune.
 
Everything about Daisy’s communication with other dogs says, “Eff you.” She walks with her head erect and ears pointed skyward, her chest puffed out. Her tail, usually long and straight, curls up over her back. When she detects another dog in the area, even if it’s just a distant bark, her hackles go up and she begins to huff and puff. When a dog comes into sight and moves closer, she starts to thrash and snarl, trying vainly to run at the other dog. Every dog, no matter how small, large or docile, is seen as a threat.
 
We tried seeing a trainer—it was expensive, and the trainer herself wasn’t a good fit. If we had more money, we’d go to a professional behaviorist. I’ve read books and articles. I’ve tried to sit in Cheesman Park with Daisy and feed her treats when dogs, often off-leash, appear. She refuses the treats, and her breathing becomes ragged and shallow as her rage turns into fear.
 
It’s a sad situation, but we do our best. Daisy has a couple of dog-pals she can play with at relatives’ houses. We avoid the dogs we see on walks, as it seems a large part of Daisy’s anxiety comes from her leash. What’s frustrating, though, is when a leashless dog comes running at Daisy, full of cheerful intentions, and I hear the owner absently call, “It’s OK, he’s friendly.” To which I respond, “Yes, but my dog isn’t.” By this point Daisy is lunging and growling at the other dog, who’s often puzzled, but sometimes offended and angered. And then we have a potential dogfight on our hands.
 
I understand the desire to let a dog off-leash. I might understand it more than anyone, since I have a dog who loves to run but can’t be let go in public. Still, leashes don’t exist just to be a buzzkill—they’re an important safety tool. I wish more people remembered that.

 

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Kathleen St. John is a freelance writer for target The Denver Post and The Onion's A.V. Club, and a lifelong dog lover. She lives in Denver, Colo., with her husband, John, and her dog, Daisy, who's a mix of just about everything. avclub.com
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Submitted by Candace | April 1 2011 |

I have the same problem, my dog is fine with dogs when they are at a distance but once they get into her space she becomes defensive. Her training has improved her behavior greatly but we have set backs when we meet a dog that is not under control. She has a few best friends in the neighborhood that she loves to play with but it can be a process to get to that point. I find that it is the dogs that should be on the leash the most that tend to be aloud to run, the owners don't seem to understand that by letting there dogs charge up sets my dogs training back by a couple of weeks every time.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 3 2011 |

Our puppy loves going for long walks and we love taking him. However, taking him without a leash is out of the question. Too many cars, children on bikes, stray cats and dogs. Not to mention dog owners who take their dogs for walks leashless or leave them outside their front yard thinking that they'll stay there. I like to feel that I have control over him. My husband is the only one who has tried taking him without a leash and it is usually some place... where there aren't any distractions and at a time when nobody is around... like very early in the morning..

Submitted by Ben J. | April 1 2011 |

Thank you Kathleen for such an intelligent well written article. I have the exact same problem in my neighborhood and people just don't get it that dogs need to be leashed when they're outside!

Submitted by Marla | April 1 2011 |

Cute pup!

Submitted by Cory Casciato | April 1 2011 |

Word. My little Yorkie thinks he's a brawler, so leashless dogs freak me out. They run up to him, all friendly, and he goes aggro and then they sometimes respond in kind ... uh, a mess, and I'm always afraid it's going to end up with him in the hospital for someone else's dumb mistake. Leash your dogs, people. If you want them to run free, move to the country and buy a ranch. Oh, you can't afford that? Well, I can't afford to have my dog put back together when your leashless mutt snaps back at him defensively when he tries to lunge and I can't get him out of the way quick enough.

Submitted by Andrea L. | April 1 2011 |

Daisy is a beautiful girl, so lucky to have been adopted by great "parents" like you and John. Being on a leash can make a dog feel extra protective of its owner, and another dog (leashed or unleashed) running towards you can be perceived as a threat, sending your leashed dog into protect-the-owner mode. (This can also be a problem with small children who don't know any better coming up to your leashed dog). At least if you have your dog on a leash, you can attempt to steer him/her away from the perceived threat. But when the perceived threat is not leashed and keeps coming at your leashed dog, it is often a dog-fight waiting to happen. It is very frustrating when you cannot exercise your leashed dog without worrying about unleashed dogs coming up and sending your dog into protection mode. There are many dog parks and open spaces that are open to dogs who respond to voice-command where unleashed dogs are free to roam and play and frolic with other dogs. If you like to have your dog off-leash, please do so in areas such as these.

Submitted by Max's Mom | April 2 2011 |

I completely understand your point about keeping dogs on leashes in areas that are clearly designated as requiring them. I must admit, though, that I am constantly surprised by owners who bring dog-aggressive dogs to areas that are clearly marked as off-leash areas and grow upset that other dogs are running free.

Submitted by Kathleen St. J. | April 4 2011 |

I'm with you. I don't bring Daisy to dog parks, or parks where I know dogs will be loose. We've tried going to Cheesman, with Daisy on-leash, but there are just too many loose dogs running around. It stinks, because we can't take Daisy there for walks, but I'm not going to call the cops on people playing catch with their pups.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 3 2011 |

I have a 20 lb. terrier adopted from a shelter last fall who is dog friendly and great off leash at fenced in dog parks, but barks and lunges at any dog that gets close on leashed walks out of a frustration of not being able to instantly say hi. He is in training classes to build good manners and behaviors but because of the barking and straining at the leash he comes off as aggressive to other people. I just wish that we wouldn't get so many dirty looks for daring to bring him out in public. I'm doing my best to use positive methods to modify his behavior, and try to avoid close confrontations with dogs that he can't handle yet. In the meantime he has a right to daily leashed walks, too, especially since he lives in a condo.

Submitted by Heidi | April 4 2011 |

The same thing just happened to me yesterday. I have a skittish German Shepherd mix, and I take her for walks and do careful behavior modification with every dog (or other scarey thing) we come across. Until a crazy little yorkie/JRT mix came at us off leash, running circles around us, and lunging and barking like there was no tomorrow. Very frustrating. And we were close to a busy road. Leash laws are there for many very, very good reasons.

Submitted by Lisa | April 4 2011 |

About a year ago, after dealing with many off-leash and/or aggressive small dogs whil walking my two (on-leash) dogs, I ordered a product from the Petsmart website which is a concentrated citronella foam spray, intended to be used as a distraction/deterrent for dogs. It costs about ten dollars.

I started carrying it with me on my walks. I often forgot to use it, but I feel better when I have it with me. The day it arrived in the mail, the owner of a dachshund in my local park dropped her leash accidentally, and the small dog came running at my dogs and actually jumped on top of my beagle mix, who had fallen on her back in surprise!

I've found it also works well to stop territorial cats from fighting. One of my cats has only to see me pick up the can now and she runs away.

Submitted by Jayne | April 4 2011 |

As the companion to an incredibly reactive Aussie and very fearful 7# mix, I LOVE leash laws! I had lived in Florida where dogs ran free and their people looked at me like I had a problem when their dogs would approach my leashed dogs. It was very stressful for my dogs and me, so we moved back to Madison, WI where dog people seem to understand that when they are walking their dogs in the neighborhood, the dogs should be leashed. It's a city of abundant dog parks and perhaps that makes a difference. It makes it much easier to work on behavior modification with my dogs when I don't have to worry about being rushed by even the friendiest of dogs!

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2011 |

I think anyone who can not control their dog off leash, should not have their dog in that situation. Whether its in a fenced in dog park or in the open. Both of my dogs have issues with rude dogs approaching them when they are on leash. Yet, in an off-lead dog park, they know they can go the other way if they don't like the behavior of an oncoming dog.

On the flip side of this... there are many of us in the Denver area who have performance dogs with no place to train or condition. We can't practice our freestyle and toss and catch disc routines at the dog park. Not only do other dogs steal the discs, but it's not safe for the dogs to have to negotiate and jump over other dogs in their paths. It would be nice if there was a certain area that was allowed for dogs who are under voice control. In Boulder, you can purchase a special "off-lead tag" for your dog. I would gladly pay extra money for a tag or special privelages at a certain park.

I admit, I will occassionaly find a park or school yard to practice off-lead. However, my dogs are trained not to approach other dogs unless I give the ok...whether that dog is on leash or off. If the other dog seems to be having any issues, I always do a recall and get my dogs on leash until they pass. Unfortunately, not everyone takes the time to train their dogs appropriately and it ruins it for everyone.

Submitted by Rough Collie Girl | April 4 2011 |

HEAR! HEAR! Very well written, consise and to the point. I, too, am often bothered by loose dogs, with the owner of the loose animal too far away to do any good and no voice control over their dog. It can be a very bad situation to begin with which then only gets worse. My 5 month old Collie puppy can show all the submissive body langauge to other dogs he wants, but if the other dog does not know "dog language" it does him no good whatsoever. We have left dog parks because of loose dogs not being watched closely by their owners. We have cut walkies short because of loose dogs with no owner in sight. We have been psetered by very forward and rude loose dogs with poor body language skills whom the owner repeatedly assures me is friendly but is showing fear and aggression signals at the same time.
Leash laws are put in place for a reason- to keep the puplic safe, not just from the pit bull down the street but from your poorly trained potential fear biter as well.

Submitted by Kathleen St. J. | April 4 2011 |

Oh, man. I have some stories about a lady I knew with a "friendly" Rottweiler. Holy cow, if that dog was friendly, Daisy is, too. ;)

PS: Nothing against Rotties. They're great. But this was a big, powerful dog, and there was nothing friendly about it. Somehow, the owner missed this...

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2011 |

Sounds like my next door neighbor who has convinced himself that his dog is snapping and snarling through the fence at mine because "she wants to come over and play". So glad I have a tall fence. I've been working with my dog and training her to ignore that poor terrified dog on the other side. Sadly his dog isn't getting the same training so she will continue freaking out whenever we are outside in our yard.

Submitted by Kathleen St. J. | April 4 2011 |

I agree, it's not fair for people who have true voice control over their dogs. The issue is people who have "voice control": "Bailey, come here! Bailey! Bailey! Bailey? Bailey, NO!" ;)

That's a good idea Boulder has there - didn't know about that.

Submitted by Michelle | April 4 2011 |

Yes yes yes! What we need are not more dog parks, but off leash areas where dogs who are under voice control can go to play or hike or have fun with their owners or other dogs. I end up taking my dog down to our local park, off in a corner, to practice some agility stuff (I have no yard) and it's not legal off leash area, though it's sort of an unofficial area. I wish I had someplace legal to really take some equipment, set it up and do a bit of training.

I like the "off lead tag" idea. Between that and the CGC, which could enable well behaved dogs to go more public places as well, there are great solutions to WHO is allowed to do such things.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2011 |

100% agree. My 100lb rescue dog likes some dogs and not others. I take great care to keep him away from dogs I know he's not okay with and I use it as a training opportunity for him. He's come a long way with training, but still doesn't like most dogs. I've had people in my neighborhood yell "don't worry, she's friendly" when their off-lead canine comes trotting across the street. I too yell back "mine's not". Of course the human then comes running after their dog, so now there is not only a dog coming at my dog but also a mildly-frantic running human. Not a good situation. My dog is the sweetest thing but some dogs just set him off in a bad way. And often the dog that is coming toward us just crossed a street to get to us. I'm afraid one of them is going to get hit by a car some day.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2011 |

Not only should dogs be leashed, but using a solid leash, rather than a RETRACTABLE leash is necessary. 6 years ago, I was at the dog park, when suddenly I found a 35 pound dog and a 16 foot retractable leash wrapped around both my ankles. The dog was at one end while the owner tugged at the other end. I almost lost my left foot. The cord, which felt much like piano wire, had cut through my flesh and close to my ankle bone. I still have major scarring around my left ankle. These leashes provide absolutely no owner control of the dog when they are excited and chasing balls or other dogs.

Submitted by Kathleen St. J. | April 4 2011 |

Oh, my gosh. That is horrible. I'm sorry to hear that.

I'm not a fan of retractable leashes myself. My parents' Lab (who's one of Daisy's pals, by the way) was attacked by a St. Bernard last year. The gigantic dog was being walked on a retractable leash. I can understand using them for little toy dogs, but a St. Bernard? Everyone was OK, no serious harm was done, but it could have been much worse.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2011 |

Our dog Bart felt it was his job to protect us from other dogs especially since a dog came through bushes and tore his shoulder open when he was a pup. When we lived in the city we had constant problems with tough guys that ket there dogs follow them in a pack unleashed. Bart bite the tongue of a pit that approacjed him to play. The owner's remark was "It's ok. Now my dog will lean not to approach dogs" yeah for the Dog morons in life. It wasn't fair to his sweet Pitty nor our dog.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2011 |

This is a wonderful and well written article. I also have a dog aggressive dog who loves people and can't get enough cuddle time, but goes crazy any time we run into another dog.

The County I live in has a leash law, but there are those in my condo complex that seem to feel it doesn't apply to them. I often find myself having to step in the middle of my dog and the unleashed dog. It can be exhausting to go on walks and I have actually had to figure out which neighbors walk their dogs without leashes and when, so we can try to avoid them.

I was very happy to read this and know there are others that feel the same way I do. I would love to have a dog I was comfortable letting off her leash, in the appropriate areas, but I don't and I really get frustrated with those that do not follow the rules, and assume that all dogs are friendly. I find myself saying, "sorry she isn't friendly" far too often.

Submitted by Kathleen St. J. | April 4 2011 |

The worst is when you say "sorry, not friendly" and the owner suddenly looks at you like you've got Cujo at the end of your leash and snatches up their off-leash dog. *Cue horrified gasp*

Or when they don't understand that the niceness of their dog has nothing to do with it, and then act all huffy and offended. It's like, "No, it's OK, your precious Snowflake is just fine. It's my dog that's being a jerk here, and I don't want Snowflake to get a beatdown."

Submitted by Stephanie | April 4 2011 |

I know EXACTLY how it feels! I've had two dog aggressive dogs; the latest being a 150 lb. Great Dane. It's terrifying for me when a leashless dog runs up to us. Luckily, it hasn't happened that often since my dog has at least 30 lbs on me and "4 wheel drive!"

Thanks for the awesome article. I can only hope that the people who really need to read it actually do.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2011 |

I'm totally with you! And my feisty fido is a Daisy too :-) She's come a long way with Click to Calm & the Control Unleashed program but she does not want to greet strange offleash dogs. I am an unabashed yeller: "leash your dog NOW. This is NOT an offleash area." Project the voice from deep within the diaphragm and don't be bashful :-)

It frequently is the people with the most untrained dogs who let them offleash. They've never taught them to not pull on leash, and the owners just take the easy way out & unclip them to let them run.

Bottom line is that if you can't keep your dog by your side, and recall them from dogs/cats/squirrels/toddlers eating ice cream in strollers, then you need to keep the dog on leash except on private property or designated offleash parks.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2011 |

If both parties are equally responsible for their dog, this type of confrontation would never happen. There are two ways to avoid such a confrontation, laws or no laws, leash or no leash. 1st: Any dog that has ever threatened to bite another dog or person, should wear a muzzle when out in public, every time, period. In addition to preventing injuries, this gives others a visual cue to stear clear--no questions need be asked. 2nd: Dogs, off-leash or not, should simply not be allowed to greet strange (unknown) dogs without permission, unless perhaps the body language of both dogs makes it very clear they are friendly and happy to meet (this takes a number of years to learn, as some playful-looking behavior--stiff tail wags, stiff crouching, for eg.-- can in fact indicate aggression in some cases). The dog should be called to return to their owners or commanded to sit and wait until they get confirmation from the other party that the dog is friendly and they get the "free" command to go and greet.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 9 2011 |

"Any dog that has ever threatened to bite another dog or person, should wear a muzzle when out in public, every time, period."

Threatening to bite is not actually biting. It is perfectly normal and acceptable dog communication - letting everyone know that the dog is very uncomfortable with the situation. This does not necessitate a muzzle. Neither does a dog that gets in physical arguments that do not result in broken skin. The dog should be conditioned to be more comfortable with the situation through positive training. But muzzling the dog is not an appropriate action, and does not actually address the problem.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 15 2011 |

Yes, muzzles are great tools to have an aggressive dog safely in public. My dog was bit by a chihuahua who just ran up to him at the dog park a couple weeks ago. The bite did not do any damage, but after it happened the owner admitted that his dog was dog-aggressive and pulled a muzzle out of his pocket and put it on. While it was a tiny dog, I was still annoyed that a dog that is known to be aggressive and bite only wore a muzzle at the dog park AFTER biting my dog.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2011 |

A leash law does nothing to prevent injuries. A friend of mine and I were both bit on separate occasions by different *leashed* dogs. In both cases we were just walking by. A muzzle is the only thing that would have helped in these cases. Aggressive dogs should wear muzzles at all times when out in public.

Submitted by Damon | April 4 2011 |

I have two dogs that I adopted from the shelter. They are very friendly with kids and adults but with other dogs not so much. I am find with this and I give them plenty of walks and love but there are times when people with thier off leash dogs approach and I tell them to stay away..I feel like I'm the bad person.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 4 2011 |

Leash laws mean different things.
People should not be allowed to let their dogs out the front door instead of walking them, those dogs can easily become dangerous.
Where I live there are zillions of places to walk my dog on a leash where she won't be bothered by dogs off leash.
There is no place to work a dog off leash where they won't be bothered by more casual off-leash dog walkers and there needs to be.
We also have a need for places for casual hikers to let their agreeable dogs run loose.

Not every place has to have the same rules.

Submitted by Repoleon | April 5 2011 |

I am so glad to see the article and to see that so many others agree. I to always feel like the bad person, or like i have a "defective dog", when this issue comes up. In reality, although many dogs are friendly to other dogs, it is not necessarily "normal" for dogs. Dogs are often protective and territorial with dogs outside their known circle. I have two very different dogs, both lab mixes, who I walk seperately each day. One is dog-agressive (though she ignores other leashed dogs if they are not in her personal space) and the other is very, very sweet, and so timid and gentle that he is easily traumatized by 'scary dogs'. When he is politely standing behind me and leaning hard against my leg with wide, frightened eyes, it makes me so angry that people let their rude off leash dogs continue to try to "make friends" with him. And when I say "He's afraid of your dogs", they answer "oh, they are friendly, they won't hurt him." That may be true, but it is my job to read my dog's reaction and my job to keep him safe and secure. And all the time I'm feeling thankful that it is him and not my other dog that I"m walking, or we would have a dog fight on our hands.... I think if people want their dogs to enjoy off-leash time, they should take them to a dog park or invest the time and money into training them to have a rock solid recall. My dogs are never off leash and they are happy and well-excercised.

Submitted by Repoleon | April 5 2011 |

I have a muzzle for my dog-agressive dog, but I do worry that if another agressive dog approached us (we have one in the neighborhood who wanders) and attacked her, she would be unable to defend herself while muzzled. I really feel like I should be able to walk my well behaved, under control dog with a reasonable expectation that our personal space will be respected.

My sister recently moved into a neighborhood where everyone seems to let their dogs run free. She has a super dog friendly pit bull, who loves all other dogs, but sadly, IF for ANY reason he ever gets into a fight with another dog, even defending himself, it is very likely that he could be blamed for the fight because of his breed. She is not willing to take any chances and he is always leashed.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 5 2011 |

Currently resident in Berlin, Germany I'm not absolutely sure whether there is only leash requirements in parks (these are posted, so that much I know) or if the law also requires leash usage on the streets (as is the case in Stockholm, Sweden) -- but I do know for a fact that the dogs here are much less aggressive and much more easy-going with other canines as well as humans. In Stockholm, where almost 99% dog owners abide by the leash law, dog aggressiveness is much more severe. Can it be that here, where everyone takes a dog walk leash-free, the dogs are "socialized" into a more friendly behaviour from the start?

Submitted by Anonymous | April 15 2011 |

Interesting point of view, maybe you are right. I know that my dog's frustration and lunging at other dogs only happens when he is physically restrained (like on a leash). When he is allowed off leash at dog parks, that behavior completely disappears as he is free to socialize with the other dogs on his terms.

Also, at the dog daycare he attends while we work (urban dog with no yard) I've been told that many dogs bark at other dogs on the leash, but are fine off leash in the facility.

Submitted by John | April 6 2011 |

This article really hit home. My wife and I walk at a park with lots of hilly, narrow trails. Leash signs are clearly posted and we always see dogs not on leashes. Same old story-"don't worry my dog is friendly". These are the same folks (I'm assuming) who don't use turn signals-its not safe and you don't know where they are going!
Great article.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 12 2011 |

Daisy looks like a Norwegian Buhund. I have 2 of them.

Submitted by Rose | April 13 2011 |

Love this article and all the comments.
It's nice to feel not-so-alone!!!!!!

I have a reactive dog as well she walks nicely and is always under control but she is not comfortable with dogs jumping on her/coming up to her and will react aggressively (mostly hot air as she has never injured another dog)and is always leashed. Unfortunately, because of the huge number of offleash dogs in all the beautiful parks around me (despite the presence of fenced, clearly marked OFF LEASH areas)we have been BANISHED to side walk walking. We are not even safe here and have had dogs run up to us on busy sidewalks.

It fills me with anger...the offleash areas sit mostly empty while the parks are covered in poop and offleash dogs run amok. And no they are not "all friendly."

Why should I be forced out of parks and my dog have grassy spaces unavailable to her?Or muzzle her? She's well behaved and under control and I just want to take her for a peaceful walk in the supposedly "leash mandatory" areas.

Submitted by Lynne | April 17 2011 |

completely off the subject, but... where did you get daisy's tag? and what info does it have on it??? (i don't mean YOUR address, etc., more like how many "digits" fit on a line and how many lines on the tag?) also, is there writing on both sides? it looks heart-shaped, which i like a lot, but it's hard to tell- is it?thanks!!!

Submitted by Anonymous | February 4 2013 |

I know this article is from 2011, but I am just seeing it for the first time and wanted to thank the author for sharing this well-written perspective. I'm in the exact same situation, except that I know exactly what caused my dog's dog-agression - an OFF-LEASH dog.

My dog was attacked while on a leash by an unrestrained dog (a supposedly friendly laborador retriever) and for that reason it is now extremely stressful for both her and I to be in the vicinity of any off-leash dog. That incident cost me over two thousand dollars in veterinarian bills and left her with 200 stitches, several drain tubes, and a strong fear of other animals that she previously did not have. The other dog did not have a collar and so it took a long time to separate the two dogs. My pup is a pit bull-type dog (maybe - not exactly sure) but previously had been dog friendly and submissive so did not really fight back at all. Now she is extremely fear aggressive of all other dogs despite expensive efforts to help that. I would give anything to prevent that suffering from happening again to her or any other dog. Suffice it to say, it has turned that part of my life into an extremely stressful one, every single day.

Fortunately, all it takes to prevent that is for people to comply with existing leash laws. Unfortunately, an astonishing number of people simply can't be bothered to do that! I live near an enclosed dog park, but even then, people would rather break the law than go out of their way to take their dog play in a safely enclosed space. It's infuriating. And of course, if you politely ask them to leash their dog, the response ranges from being ignored to being told to F-off to having your life threatened.

Listen up, Silver Spring, Maryland -- I'm going to stand up for my dog and do what it takes to keep her safe. I'm not going to be afraid to leave my house and deprive her of the leash walks that she needs to stay healthy. I'm going to start wearing a front and back video camera every time I walk her on a leash. So when your off-leash dog comes over and violates the law, there will be evidence of your criminal act, and I will press for the maximum fine. And there will be evidence that any dog fight was your fault, and you'll be responsible for your vet bills and for mine. I'm an attorney and am fluent in the relevant laws. I have a breakstick, spray, a cell phone with the police on speed dial, and am thinking of getting a permit to carry a visible handgun (not for the dogs, but I'm tired of having violence threatened against me by people whom I've politely asked to leash their dog).

My sympathy and support goes out to everyone in this situation. Let's work for stronger penalties and strict enforcement, for the safety of all dogs.

Submitted by Jean | September 14 2013 |

Kathleen--my sympathies. We have a former shelter dog who is the same, and having had another wonderful dog in the past who was NOT leash aggressive, it has been a hard adjustment. But the dog that we have now is good in the house, and we do what we can to make things better for everyone when we take her on walks. We live in an area now that doesn't even allow leashed dogs in parks--not that I would take our dog there--but it seems pretty harsh. We resign ourselves to walking on sidewalks in our neighborhood.

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