Dogs off leash can be dangerous, but we enjoy giving them the freedom and we can tell by their bantering gait that they’re grateful, but is it worth the risk?
Animal Care and Control Chicago, located on Western takes in about 24,000 animals a year; owner surrenders and strays/lost dogs. Strays are held for 7 days, if not claimed they are put up for adoption, transferred to a shelter for adoption or humanly euthanized. Hundreds of desperate owners have even taken to the internet to find they’re lost companions posting their lost pet on sites like Craigslist and FidoFinder.com. Even though the internet has become a huge resource in finding lost pets still less than 16% of them are returned to their rightful owners.
Nicole Walder Stewart, Director of Training at AnimalSense Canine Training and Behavior, Inc. (locations throughout Chicago) says, “The bottom line is that it’s against the leash laws in most cities.” As to the safety of off-leash dogs, “having a dog off-leash is a lovely concept, but the truth is that even a well-trained dog could run into the street after a squirrel, run to another dog on leash who isn’t friendly or just scare the pants off of someone who is afraid of dogs.” ABC Certified Dog Trainer and longtime Chicago resident Halley Leber agrees and says “it’s not whether your dog is friendly; it’s about trusting the other dog(s).”
We can never tell what is waiting for us around the corner, and it is best to always be prepared. Having your dog on a leash is much like wearing your seat belt while driving it’s for your dog’s safety.
Veterinary Pet Insurance Company or better known as VPI received over 5,000 claims of bone fractures in 2008. Nearly 40% of these claims were a result of dogs being hit by cars. Stewart suggests, “Set your dog up for success by keeping them on leash and teaching them the best way to behave on leash.”
If you’re struggling with your dog’s leash walking manners, seek professional help. Also keep in mind that retractable leashes may seem like a great opportunity for your dog to roam safely, but if you don’t pay attention your dog may end up in a bush and get sprayed by a skunk or turn a corner before you do and be head to head with an aggressive dog. “They don’t teach the dog not to pull,” says Petstore Associate David B. “When the dog’s distance is constantly changing, six feet to ten feet, to sixteen feet and back to five, the dog cannot understand how far he can go before he’s pulling again.”
Walking with your dog can be time for you to bond. Have fun and be part of the walk. All too often we take Lucky out for his walk so he can do his business. It shouldn’t be considered Lucky’s walk, it should be looked at as ‘Our walk’. By keeping this simple concept in mind you can take control of the walk and your dog’s safety.