Why We Don’t Walk Off Leash

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Here on DogTipper, you’ll see a lot of photos of our dogs on our twice-daily walks or enjoying a getaway at a dog-friendly location. When they’re in our yard–or at a fenced, off-leash dog park–our dogs are off leash. However, any other time, you’ll always see them on leash.

Although I love off-leash training and working on a reliable recall, in our day to day life, we always take the dogs out on leash. Why?

We live in a nature preserve, and I want to protect wildlife.

The back half of our property is part of a protected preserve; our easement documents specifically allow us to walk our dogs on leash on the property.

Although the preserve easement specifically protects bird species that would not be found on the ground, it’s still important for the dogs to be on leash on that protected land so that they don’t leave their scent everywhere (they can reach places that I can’t so keeping them with me limits their access).

It’s also important that they not impact the wilderness–whether that means chasing a deer or a rabbit–or even a lizard.

I want to pick up the poop.

It’s difficult to spot exactly where your dog poops if he’s off leash. To keep locations dog-friendly, it is imperative that dog lovers pick up after their dogs.

And even though we’re on our own property, I always pick up dog poop to help remove the scent of the dogs.

We want to protect the dogs from wildlife.

Along with protecting the wildlife, we want to protect the dogs FROM the wildlife. In our area, that wildlife includes coyotes, copperheads, rattlesnakes, coral snakes, water moccasins, tarantulas, and more.

Most nights, we see coyotes in the game cameras just on the other side of our fenced yard.

I want to do everything I can to prevent a run-in with a coyote or a snakebite.

Keeping the dogs beside us, on the end of a four-foot-long leash, means they’re hopefully not walking up on something before we spot it.

Many locations we visit require a leash.

We love traveling to state parks with our dogs. All require a leash (no longer than six feet) at all times.

Through the years, our dogs have also accompanied us on many nursing home visits; hopefully they’ll be able to resume that soon, as restrictions relax. Leashes–short leashes–are required throughout their visits.

I want to share the experience of the walk with our dogs.

I look forward to our twice-daily walks–and want to walk WITH the dogs, not separately from the dogs. Walking the dogs on leash is, in many ways, like walking while holding someone’s hand. You’re walking together, experiencing the same things, at the same time.

Walking alongside the dogs, I can work on training as we go (and they know they can count on a treat from my dog walking bag).

And the shared walk also means that I learn things about our dogs’ body language. I’m much more aware of their movements that signal they’ve seen something of interest down the trail and caught the scent of something in the area.

Accidents can happen very quickly.

No matter how well-trained your dog is, tragedy can strike very quickly.

This story in Dogster is an important reminder that, regardless of how much training your dog has had (the dog in this story was a search and rescue trained dog and competed in obedience), off-leash accidents can happen and happen in an instant.

Along with auto accidents, there’s also always the risk of your dog ingesting a hazardous substance before you have a chance to take it away (or even see it) if your dog is off-leash and far from you.

Do you walk your dog on-leash or off-leash?

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