Why your off-leash dog is ruining my life.

It’s finally summertime! The time of year to get outside and walk the dog, so you get your buddy all leashed up and head outdoors. The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and as you smile and soak in the vitamin D you have been craving for so long you see it out of the corner of your eye—the off leash dog. The reason you have to wear running shoes when all you ever want to do is take a leisurely stroll in the park. “He’s good with other dogs!” the owner screams as you sprint in the opposite direction. And you’re left telling the same old story you’ve likely had to tell your friends a million times before; which usually ends with “Other dog owners just don’t get it.” If this situation sounds all too familiar, then you know the feeling of panic and anxiety that can come with the simple act of wanting to exercise man’s best friend. If this situation sounds all too familiar because you are one of those people screaming at me while I run away — then I implore you to continue reading.

Not every person wants to be approached by your dog.
As a dog person, I agree, this seems odd. When a dog passes me, I smile ear to ear and don’t stop staring until the dog is out of my sight. Typically combine with blurting out some sort of “aww” noises and if the moment is appropriate, asking if I can pet the dog. However, there are plenty of people out there who have had bad experiences with dogs, are fearful of dogs, or just don’t like dogs! Respect these people and do them the common courtesy of leashing your dog.

Not every dog wants to be approached by your dog.
Much like people, not all dogs are keen on the idea of your four-legged friend running up to them without their consent. Again this could be due to the dog having previous bad experiences with other dogs, being fearful of meeting new canine companions, or maybe they just don’t like other dogs. And get this—dogs can’t even talk to you to tell you to get away! They will have to resort to barking, lunging, growling and in the worst cases biting to tell you how unhappy they are. Here is where the owner of that “friendly dog” just doesn’t get it.

I assume they think something along the lines of—“it’s not my fault your dog isn’t trained.” This is where there seems to be a breakdown in communication, and we do not understand one another, and here is what you may not know. Many dogs who have issues with other dogs are working hard every day during every single walk to maintain control and not bark or pull. These dogs may not have been given a good start to their lives, may not have been socialized, may have been taken away from their litters too early, may have been attacked by an off leash dog in the past, or their temperament may just be a nervous one… the list could go on and on. These are dogs that are working tirelessly to be good dogs, and every experience with an off leash dog has the potential to set that training back tremendously. It’s not for lack of training or trying; some dogs just need a little extra TLC. For the sake of these dogs, please leash your dog.

Even a well-trained dog can be unpredictable.
In an exciting situation, any dog could ignore recall. Any dog has the potential to bite. Any dog’s prey drive could kick in and they may take off after a squirrel or bird, so just leash your dog! If your dog really wants to run free, I’ve heard of these cool places called dog parks, and back yards which sound like they would be worth checking out!

It’s the law.
Need more convincing to keep your dog on leash? It’s the law, and there are fines for not following the law. Here in Rochester, NY first offense $100, second offense $250, and third and subsequent offenses $500. You can find the leash law in full in Section 31-4 at the following website: http://ecode360.com/8674339.

Whether it’s to respect the fearful person or dog, to keep your own dog safe, or because it’s the law, please remember this post the next time you take your walk. The above-mentioned reasons are true for all dogs of any size, shape, or breed. Many dogs prefer not to be approached by a new or unfamiliar dog; however, this fairly common animal response coupled with being a pit bull owner has a whole new meaning. Because of the stigma that still surrounds this breed, an altercation between two dogs is likely to be deemed instigated by the pit bull regardless of the facts. The pit bull will be more likely to be labeled “aggressive, ” and this is likely to have negative consequences for the dog and owner. So please, for the love of dog– leash yours!