Common courtesy in the dog world. Yep, there are things we should and should not do as far as our dogs are concerned in the human world that we live in. Yesterday I hit a favorite park of mine with Elsa. We were just getting into the park when we met a wonderful six month old lab puppy. He was smitten with Elsa as was she with him. They had an on leash mini play session, great for more dog socializing for both. His owner and I were chatting a bit about letting the dogs off leash which I did not do with Elsa, it was much too public a place. She said that she often let him off for some "chuck it" fun but sometimes people got mad.
I am all for sneaking off leash fun, I do it when I can and with a puppy; only when it is extremely safe to do so. We must either be alone or with others who are being off leash. Having dogs off leash in an on leash area where people are walking their dogs on leash is only okay if you have 100% control, which of course is impossible so let's say 90%. Still then if you walk by someone who is leery of dogs you may be in trouble. All it takes is one incident to ruin it for everyone. Even if you have the most friendly of dog or puppy you can still be in a serious predicament if your dog approaches that dog fearing person.
I know quite a few people who are not comfortable around dogs, they should not have to tolerate a loose dog in the park where they walk. Often simply seeing that a dog does not have a leash on can send canine fearing folks into panic mode. I have run into many people myself who get very irate when I ask them to leash their dog. "He's friendly," they often say of their dog who is bounding around aggressively at my dogs. Hmmmmmm..........this makes me really angry because these are the folks that ruin it for us all.
Even the best of dogs can never be under 100% control unless they are leashed. My perfect boy Luke is amazing off leash, he walks by my side like a champ and is rarely tempted to bolt off. But, he is a dog and has his own mind so he could at some point decide that he must go see another dog or person. He is extremely friendly with both dogs and people but not everyone wants to say hi or get to know him, this is what we dog lovers must understand.
Before I unsnap a leash I make sure:
Am I in an off leash area?
If it is not an off leash area are there other dogs around on leash? If so how far are they? With Luke I can unhook and not worry but not Elsa.
In an on leash area, are there people walking without dogs?
Do I have control of my dog? Luke? yes. Elsa, no.
I am constantly looking for off leash areas that are safe and secluded. Luckily I have a good sized backyard where my dogs can run and play but it is not the size where they can go for a run. So I'm always on the lookout for a new spot.
Sadly many of the secluded areas are spots where I've run into the worst dogs. People who have aggressive dogs think that they are safe in these areas, wrong. If your dog is aggressive you should never unsnap that leash, no matter what. Acting like it is the first time your dog has gone after another is a common response that I have heard far too many times.
So before you unhook, look around and ask yourself if it is worth it? Are you being a courteous dog owner?