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Is it really necessary to keep my dog on a leash?

Today I was out running errands and I saw an older lady walking a couple of dogs. Both dogs were little, perhaps Chihuahua mixes, one on a leash and the other wandering along behind them. The loose dog would walk behind the lady stopping to sniff, and the lady and her other dog would walk ahead, stopping periodically to wait. All in all a sweet scene to most people. I slowed down as I passed them to make sure the loose dog didn’t muster up wild hair and darted into the street. It stayed on the sidewalk, and I was on my way. 

I couldn’t stop thinking about everything that could have happened to that peaceful scene. The little guy wandering into the road to sniff something, or a little kid running up to pet it and getting bit, or a less friendly dog running up on them and the lady being too far away to do anything but watch, and probably get hurt too trying to rescue her little dog. Sorry, that was all alarming.

While not everyone watches people walk their dogs like a dog trainer does, we are all aware of the hazards out there for loose dogs. We would all hate driving down the road when a little dog runs out into the street. 

So, who is responsible when that happens? The same person is responsible for everything in the dog's life, home food, shots, everything. We must be good guardians of our dogs inside and outside our homes. Keeping the fences good so there aren't holes or gaps for your dog to escape, and when you take a walk, keeping your dog on a leash keeps them safe. 

As a dog trainer, I am confident my dog would stay with me but I don't walk without a leash. This keeps my awareness up, so I look for distractions and possible hazards. When your dog is off-leash, they are vulnerable, they don't know what to do in new situations, and if they are too far away, it is hard to help them out

Friendly dogs off-leash can get into trouble running up on dogs who cannot handle that excitement. When your dog is on a leash you can keep your dog from running up on stranger dogs and people. Not everyone wants a dog running up on them when walking with or without a dog.  

Advocating for your dog is keeping them on a leash, telling people that your dog isn’t meeting people today, for whatever reason. Some dogs don’t like meeting strangers, people, or dogs. Sometimes you aren’t comfortable meeting someone and just because you have a dog doesn’t give others the right to interrupt your peace. 

Watching out for your furry friend like you would for a little kid, watch out for other dogs, on or off leash, kids, or people who want to pet your dog. If your dog doesn’t know how to greet new people and dogs politely or you aren’t in the mood for greetings; Stop them before they get close enough to get a reaction from your dog and tell them, “Hey, we aren’t meeting people today.” That way you aren’t triggering people by saying, “No you can’t pet my dog.” 

Keeping safety in mind for your dog helps them trust you when they don’t understand what you need from them in unfamiliar situations, like being at a cafe for the first time or playing at the beach, which is another kind of leash topic. 


Safety and Advocation, are two skills pet dog parents need when they take their dogs out into the world. 

 April 10, 2024 


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