Leash ’em Up: Reasons to Keep your Dog on a Leash

I’ll admit up front, this is a bit of a rant post. In a previous post, I outlined the 5 things that annoyed me about pet owners, and in that post I mentioned my anger towards owners that insist on walking their dogs off leash when they are on the streets of Seattle.

Coming out of puppy play class last week, my girlfriend and I noticed a dog in the middle of the street on the corner of 10th and Union in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. We saw the back log of cars and the owner struggling to get his dog to come back to him. We also noticed that he had another dog, on leash, walking beside him. “I can’t believe this,” I mumbled to myself. We watched him turn the corner and for three more blocks struggle to keep his dog beside him.

Let me get this out of the way now: STOP IT!

First off, it’s illegal. According to the City of Seattle website, a dog caught off leash is worth a $54 fine. This does not account for the additional financial burden that comes if the dog bites or bothers another person.

But I doubt that money will be the first thing you think about if your dog bites another person. Unfortunately, dogs are unpredictable. No matter how much training they have gone through, dogs still have to overcome instinct and certain “drives” that make it almost impossible to completely trust any dog. For example, it is a dogs instinct to chase prey, known as “prey drive”. Larger dogs, as behaved as they may be, are still hard wired to chase small animals, including small dogs, cats and children. This can lead to confrontations with other dogs, or even simply lead to a dog running into the street in front of on coming traffic.

If the dog decides to attack a child, or any human for that matter, that poses a whole new set of issues. Even if your dog doesn’t “attack” someone, not everyone is comfortable around dogs, and not everyone recognizes the difference between a dog approaching to play or to eat them. Keeping a dog leashed up eliminates the possibility of any uncomfortable conversations.

I am a dog owner and a dog walker. At no point do I want my 11 pound puppy to encounter a 75 pound dog that we don’t know. Seattle is a busy city with never ending traffic jams, an active population and thousands of dogs. Don’t let your ignorance be the reason that an off leash dog gets injured, or injures someone else.