Why We Should All “Get Leashed”

Photo by Patrick Danforth | www.clicktozen.com

Photo by Patrick Danforth | www.clicktozen.com

If you have a dog, you have likely experienced this scenario. You are walking your dog, on leash, and all of a sudden an off-leash dog comes straight towards you. You have nowhere to go. “If there is someone around, they are likely saying ‘My dog is friendly’ or perhaps nothing at all. What if the dog on leash is reactive or is training and wouldn’t appreciate a strange dog bombarding them? It’s an all too common occurrence, and it shouldn’t be happening at all. Are you guilty of the “lazy leash syndrome”?


Why leashes matter…

1. Leash laws keep communities safe

They protect people and dogs. Traffic accidents, triggers that may spook dogs into traffic, dogs that wander off and get lost, people that are afraid of dogs, children that may get knocked over, dog fights, dog bites, yards that are the pride and joy of homeowners …. You get the picture.


2. Off leash dogs in undesignated areas create reactive dogs

Dogs that are leashed and are approached by unknown dogs or people are at a disadvantage right off the bat. They have nowhere to go. How vulnerable would you feel? If rushed enough times by strange dogs, this can easily cause reactivity.


"Reactive" means that a dog overreacts to a stimulus, whether it’s other dogs, people, sounds or objects. It could be due to fear or it could be due to an overexcited dog; the reasons vary. There are many reactive dogs out there (or I would be on the unemployment line) and co-existing with dogs means respecting their space as well as their guardians. If you choose to let your dog off leash in undesignated areas, you are putting them at risk, not to mention your own dog who may get injured as a result.


3. Off leash dogs often lack impulse control

Impulse control is the ability to control ones’ impulses.

It’s very common that I am seeing clients who gave up on loose leash training early on, which taught their dog that they have few boundaries. They have learned that pulling got them what they wanted; to be off-leash and doing whatever they please. They likely are rushing towards other dogs and people they shouldn’t be. This can translate to bad behaviour in the home as well. Jumping up will get them attention, barking will get them treats, etc. There is great benefit in very little time, will teach your dog boundaries and the ability to control impulses.


These are three great reasons to ensure your dog remains on leash unless in designated off-leash areas. Keep communities safe and our canine friends comfortable and happy.

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Positively Expert: Renée Erdman

Renée Erdman is a Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer and behaviour consultant focusing on the emotional needs and welfare of dogs and their guardians. She resides in North Vancouver, BC Canada where she runs Bravo Dog (www.bravdog.ca), her pride and joy.


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