Menu Close

This is a touchy time to bring up anything vaguely related to personal freedoms but there’s one in particular that poses a threat to public safety that I feel compelled to bring up. But don’t worry, it has nothing to do with COVID. I say this tongue in cheek but it really is an issue that is becoming more and more of a problem. Although we would all love for our dogs to be able to run loose, burn off all their excess energy and sate their curiosity, there aren’t many places other than fenced private property where you can let them run safely.

Leash laws are in effect in almost every public space other than dog parks and beaches set aside for canine activities. In designated off leash areas, it’s vital that dogs are friendly and have good social skills with other dogs. Even if your dog seems “bombproof” in his interactions with people and pets, it’s important to keep in mind that other dog owners may not be as responsible in assessing their pet’s skill sets.

I can remember as a kid growing up in town that there were dogs that ran loose all the time. Such freedom would have required that they developed street sense as well as social skills. Times have changed and most dogs are confined to their houses and backyards. This certainly keeps them safer, but it also limits their interaction with strangers, other pets and stimuli that evoke overexcitement.

I’m very much into hiking and nature walks, all of which I do with my dogs. I’m always on the lookout for parks and nature conservancies that allow pets and have explored many from Maine to Florida. I can honestly say that I don’t recall any that did not require that pets be leashed.

On a recent trip to Maine I saw that they had updated their very prominent signs to say “Dogs on Leash 24/7.”  I had just passed one of those signs upon entering a trail head when a young Pit-bull and a Jack Russel Terrier came tearing down the trail towards my dogs and beyond us, a busy road. The Jack Russel returned to his owner when called but the Pit puppy, in a full out, excited run, continued barreling towards us. There was no evidence of aggression, he was just a five or six-month old pup looking for playmates.

If you’re able to access lightly travelled remote walking trails, get the appropriate gauge extendable leash and train yourself and your dog to use it properly. This will allow your dog to explore and get more exercise than a standard 4- or 6-foot leash. For safety purposes, you must learn to retract the leash properly and quickly and your dog must come to you or heel when you give the command. Carry some sort of deterrent spray should you need it. Remain alert at all times, call your dog back when other walkers are near or you are approaching blind spots on the trail ahead.

Walking is healthy and pleasurable for us and our pets, if only people would follow the rules.

Shelter needs: Pate style canned cat and dog food, Purina Kitten Chow, hot dogs, whole milk plain yogurt, cream cheese, cheese singles, paper towels, and gift cards for grocery and pet supply outlets.

Source: South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter: Staying safe when we walk our dogs

Posted in 2020, SJRAS Articles