Open Space Program Makes Off-Leash Dogs Legal in Boulder

Tagged for success in Colorado
By Zoe Conrad, November 2008, Updated February 2015

With its plentitude of open space (43,000 acres), trails (130 miles) and glorious mountains—plus its progressive humane perspective—Boulder seems like an ideal place to have a dog. Now, with the launch of its “Voice and Sight Dog Tag Program” (TAG), an off-leash registration and educational outreach effort administered by the department of Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), the city is taking steps to balance wise stewardship of open space with public/recreational usage.

To achieve this challenging balance, OSMP worked closely with the dog community, represented by FIDOS (Friends Interested in Dogs and Open Space), to design the program, which is intended to ensure the continuance of off-leash privileges. Under its terms, in order for dogs to be off-leash on trails and even in city dog parks, they must be registered. Compliance with the ordinance is signified by a tag (worn by the dogs) indicating that the human half of the pair has watched a short video on Boulder’s “voice and sight” control ordinance and basic dog/human etiquette and paid the $15 fee.

What seems to be the most difficult part of the regulation, the “come immediately” command, was part of a dog-related ordinance enacted in 1996, a spokesperson for FIDOS explained. The best way for programs like TAG to achieve success is for, as FIDOS hopes, “enforcement [to] focus on those that are clearly causing problems.”

When it comes to off-leash issues, it is often the case that the misdeeds of the minority color the way the majority is perceived. Let’s hope that Boulder’s proactive educational approach minimizes the number of misdeeds and prevents conflicts. For more information, visit


Article first appeared in The Bark, Issue 38: Sep/Oct 2006