Dogs Off Leash
by Cis Frankel
“Hey! Those dogs should be on a leash!”
“If you don’t put your dogs on a leash, I’m calling the police!”
“You’re breaking the law!”
Those are just some of the comments I get on daily basis when I walk my dogs without holding an attached leash. Comments filled with venom. Anger. Rage. There are the numerous tickets I have received from the police. And there were also the threats of physical violence. One person hit me with a shovel. Another man swung a baseball bat at my dog’s head but luckily missed, and when I came to her rescue, he threw me to the ground — he was 6’4” and stood over me, and threatened me when he said, “I’ll kill you bitch!” And still another person threatened to pour his alcoholic drink over my head if I didn’t leash my dogs. All of this because I was walking my street- smart, well-behaved, dogs off leash.
I’m sure some of you may be asking, “Why does she put up with kind of abuse?” Why don’t I just walk my dogs with a leash? Well, first of all, I know there is a leash law, but I prefer to walk my dogs without a leash. My dogs do identify streets and stop. This is something that I work on daily. My dogs are being well behaved. They are intelligent. In fact, they read the environment around them very well — they are more behaved on the streets than most four- or five-year-old kids. They respect the flow of traffic without a leash.
Whenever I walk my dogs off leash, they are comfortable with the buzz of activity that exists on most city streets. They have learned how to handle various distractions that can happen when walking the streets in the city – people jogging by, kids playing, owners walking their dogs, and the random noises that erupt without warning. I’m confident that they will stop at the curb when we approach a street, an alley, or even a driveway. They keep an eye on me. And they will come to me if I need them to be at my side. I’m confident that they will cause no one any harm.
Even though I have received many negative comments from people when I walk my dogs without a leash, I also receive numerous compliments because my dogs are so well behaved. Many people have come up to me and said, “I wish I could do that with my dog.” And I respond by saying, “So why can’t you?” Their answer is always something to the effect, “Well, I can’t because my dog would just run away from me.”
I remember another neighbor once told me, “You put us all to shame because your dogs are so well behaved.” I think that is the biggest compliment a dog owner can get when someone tells you that you have a well-behaved dog.
I’m not advocating that people should walk their dogs off leash if their dog isn’t well trained and is out of control. It takes a lot of dedicated work to be able to walk a dog without a leash. In my classes, I do teach my clients how to work with their dog without a leash on city streets, but I always remind them that it is illegal to walk your dogs off leash. And it is a big responsibility.
So why do I do off-leash training? I believe it’s essential to know how to control your dog when they need to be off leash. They are not going to be on a leash when you let them run in a dog park or at a doggie beach. In those environments, you want to have a well-trained dog because if another dog is chasing your dog toward a street or some other danger zone, or if things are getting out of control with a group of dogs, then you need to be able to call your dog back to you. I have seen many owners who can’t control their dogs at a dog park or at a doggie beach because their dogs haven’t been properly trained to be on leash or off leash.
I believe it’s a big responsibility to have your dog off leash. That’s why I don’t recommend that owners should walk their dogs without a leash unless they have gone through proper off-leash training. They must have confidence in their training and their dog’s level of intelligence. If owners cannot control their dogs, then those dogs belong on a leash.
I have nothing against using a leash. In fact, I see the value of a leash particularly if an owner has a very aggressive dog. But on the other hand, I do have issues with owners who can’t control their dogs even when they are on a leash. I have seen more out-of-control dogs on a leash than dogs walking without a leash. Too many times, I have see dogs lunging at the end of the leash when a person or another dog walks by, and despite the leash, the owner has a hard time controlling their dog. I have received numerous calls over the years from owners who say their dog acts terribly on a leash. They will complain that their dog is too aggressive as it lunges toward another dog or tries to jump at people. Here’s the fallacy about using a leash — it doesn’t mean you have more control of your dog. So when people tell me to put my dogs on leash, I find it ironic because my dogs are more well behaved walking the streets without a leash compared to the many other dogs who are leashed to their owner.
I have found from my experience, that owners, who have their dogs trained off leash, can breathe a little easier, if for example, their dog runs out their door and onto the street. They will feel confident of being able to call their dog back to the house. They will also feel more confident that their dog isn’t going to run blindly across the street and get hit by a car. Their dog will instead stop at the curb.
I believe off-leash training instills more confidence in a dog. They have more awareness of their environment. It teaches a dog to respect boundaries – she won’t jump on people, run after another dog, or chase a squirrel or rabbit into the street. She will cope more effectively with distractions instead of chasing anything that moves.
Off-leash training also gives owners the confidence to let their dogs run free in the park. There’s nothing more beautiful than watching dogs run and have fun in the park. When they have the opportunity to run, it lifts their spirit — you can see in their movement and in their eyes how much they enjoy this freedom.
When I see dogs run, I can see their happiness and exuberance. It brings out their playfulness, their inner puppy. Spiritually speaking, I believe dogs are meant to run. Dogs aren’t meant to be always tethered to a leash. Who wants to be confined all the time?
I also believe training your dog off leash gives you more freedom. You can take your dog anywhere with you. If you go on vacation, you can feel confident when walking your dog through a hotel lobby or taking her on a hiking trip.
Yes, I know there’s a leash law. And yes, I know it’s illegal to walk your dog off leash. So if you are going to walk your dog without a leash, I strongly encourage owners to be responsible by making sure their dogs receive off-leash training. I believe off-leash training creates mutual respect — you will have more respect for your dog for being an intelligent animal and your dog will also have more respect for you for being an intelligent owner. That mutual respect creates a deeper trust which always leads to a deeper bond between you and your dog.
Email me your story. I’d love to hear from you!October 8, 2015 8:18 pm
Categorised in: Training