Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

The Little Known Risk to Walking Your Dog Off Leash

In my neighborhood there are lots of people out daily walking their dogs. I live in a residential area where often cars cut through to get to nearby streets, sometime at excessive speeds. It’s obvious to most people then that anyone walking their dog needs to have the dog on leash to prevent a possible accident. There are other good reasons to keep a dog on leash, such as to keep him from getting into something you don’t want him to, or to keep him from chasing the neighborhood cat. Yet despite these risks, I still see people daily without any restraint on their dogs. And many of these dogs won’t necessarily come back to the owner when called.

But the risk that most people don’t think of when walking a dog off leash is what can happen if they encounter someone walking their dog on leash. The reason I even mention this is because it’s happened to me. My dog, a golden retriever, who most people view as the quintessential family dog, is leash aggressive. That means that he may initiate a fight with another dog who gets too close while we are walking on leash.

Many dogs are leash aggressive I believe because by having them on leash, you have eliminated one of their protection mechanisms, or their flight, fight, or freeze response. With most dogs, freeze isn’t an option, and when on leash, they no longer have the option of flight, so the only choice left is fight. When we’re out walking, and encounter someone walking their dog off leash, I tell them immediately that my dog is leash reactive. Their typical response is “My dog is friendly and just wants to say hi.” I respond with “My dog isn’t, at least while on leash.”

A couple of times, these encounters have resulted in a dog fight. I try my best to restrain my dog and keep him from hurting the other dog, but I can’t control an off leash dog. That is the other owner’s responsibility. They have to stop their dog from fighting, and that’s difficult when the dog isn’t on a leash. And what these owners don’t understand is that in most communities, should either dog get injured, it’s the fault of the dog who was off leash. That owner assumes liability for all injuries, vet bills, etc., all because their dog wasn’t restrained.

To me, considering all the possible things that can happen to your dog walking off leash, it’s just not worth the risk. Keep your dog safe. Keep him on leash during neighborhood walks.

Category: Safety