This scenario plays out on a daily basis again and again. The end of the story ranges from scare to fights, bites and costly trips to the vet and even the hospital. Why does it have to get to this? It doesn’t. Dog ownership holds great responsibility that stretches far beyond feeding and yearly vet visits. Here are 6 reasons you might want to keep your dog on a leash when out on a walk.
#1 Lower the Risks, Maximize Safety
No matter where you live, there are distractions all around. Whether in the backwoods of Montana or a large metropolitan city like Los Angeles, there are plenty of things to catch the attention of not just our dogs, but us as well. Traffic, lights, wild life, farm or road equipment, free roaming domestic animals or even feral animals are chief distractors. Being aware of things that can easily be a risk to your specific dog will increase the level of safety. If you know that your dog is spooked by the air brakes on the garbage truck, then maybe a walk before or after your garbage has been picked up would be helpful. If your dog is afraid of thunder, it would be prudent (if possible) to go for a walk prior to bad weather setting in and providing safe spaces in the home for them to go to feel safe.
#2 Unpredictable Circumstances
Knowing where you are going to take your dog for a walk is good, but owners have to know that anything can change your plan for you. If a dog becomes excited, angry or scared by a car that backfires, children that suddenly enter the scene running up to you, a neighborhood dog or squirrels running around in the grass, they could simply run off, give chase in pursuit of something desired or engage in a fight.
#3 Unknown Dangers
Let’s face it, dogs can be very curious. Those who are food driven can pick up on the scent of tasty morsels dropped by strangers and want to give it a try. Others must investigate what dog has visited a particular tree or patch of grass and spend time sniffing. Grass grazers often graze on other plants and foliage as well. This could be unhealthy and toxic.
Dogs also each one another’s poop (YUCK!) and many are lovers of cat poop. A dog that consumes the poop of a dog with a compromised immune system could easily catch something.
#4 All Dogs are Not Friendly
Just because you have a fun loving dog doesn’t mean that other people do. A dog off leash that wanders over to make friends with another dog could be met with an angry bite. It is never a good idea to assume that just because a dog looks friendly it is. Having your dog on a leash gives you more control in case your dog gets scared, but.
#5 You Could Lose Your Dog
When dogs are excited, angry or scared, many of them lose their natural self-preservation skills and will run into the street, fight another dog (even though this might be out of character) or completely disregard their owner’s commands. The commands “stop, sit, come, out and leave it,” often fall on deaf ears when their emotions run high. A dog running away is not the only way a dog owner could lose their dog. Injuries sustained from being hit by a car could result in the loss of the dog’s life. A dog running around could easily be either stolen or picked up and taken to a shelter. Dogs can travel great distances in a short period of time. If they are taken to a shelter outside of the area the owners think they are in, they could be adopted out or euthanized. Also, if a dog gets into a fight with another dog, it could lead to an investigation that could result in the dog being put down.
#6 People are entitled to walk peacefully without having to deal with your dog.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is a dog lover. A lot people hate dogs. In many cultures, it is believed that dogs are to be kept outside and not domesticated. Some just aren’t tolerant of wet noses and shedding dog hair; while still others are terrified of them. It is also worth noting that many people are simply allergic to dogs. Exposure to them can cause a variety of reactions from itchy skin and difficulty breathing to full cardiac arrest. People with severe allergies normally carry an EpiPen (Epinephrine auto-injector).
In order to assure the greatest safety to your dogs, walk them on a leash until there is a safe place, such as your own fenced in property or an off leash dog park.