Good news! Since my last post – the off-leash dogs have been on-leash each time I’ve seen them. Even though I wish it had been unnecessary, seems my threat to call the cops worked.
Thank you to everyone who wrote about your experiences with off-leash dogs. Between practice, real life, and the petverse, I collected some great stories and resources.
Here are three stories/trends that especially stuck with me:
1. We visited friends for the holidays and they occasionally let their dog off-leash in the front yard. This slow moving older dog was easy-going and seemed to have no desire to be more than 5 yards from the house.
Still, I’m a woman with a cause, right?
I felt like I should say something.
It was really hard to find a way to say they should do things differently without feeling confrontational or judgmental. It was especially hard because they are otherwise amazing pet owners, devoted to seeing this dog through several serious medical issues. I just couldn’t come up with an argument that would seem kind and reasonable. I wimped out.
It made me realize how difficult it can be to provide positive pet peer pressure.
It also helped me see why from a pet owner’s perspective having your pet off leash may seem low risk. After having a dog off-leash 100 times without a problem, it’s hard to believe something bad could happen.
2. A patient of mine is dog-aggressive. So, her owner makes sure to always keep her ON leash. The other day, someone from across the street let their well-behaved dog OFF leash. That dog approached my patient in a friendly way, but because she is aggressive – there was a huge dog fight.
This showed me that no matter how wonderful *your* dog is – the leash protects your dog from the world, just as much as it protect the world from your dog.
This incident could also get my patient branded a “dangerous dog”. If it happened a second time, a court could order her to be euthanized. Her owner was trying to keep her and everyone else safe, yet a perfectly friendly off-leash dog could have effectively killed her.
3. There was a curious pattern to the stories. Whenever I remembered to ask – the problem dog wasn’t the only off-leash dog in the neighborhood. This is true in my neighborhood. Another family only a couple houses down lets their dog off leash too.
This made me wonder about the role of bad examples in off-leash behavior. Even if your pet is dependable off leash, not following leash laws may encourage your less pet-savy neighbors flout them too.
I’m working on bringing these and other stories together into the set of resources I promised on 1) promoting leashing and 2) what to do if encounter off leash dog and 3) how to keep your dog from accidentally getting off leash.