Again, this is a sensitive topic. But it’s something that needs to be talked about.

In the last few weeks I have seen horror story after horror story about one or more dogs being off leash and an accident happening, either a dog comes running towards a reactive on leash dog and a fight breaks out, a dog biting a person or incidents at dog parks. I find that these incidents are becoming way too common and it needs to stop.

The problem I have, is hardly any of the dogs who are let off leash are well trained enough to be off leash. If you want your dog to be off leash they need to have a bullet proof recall around any type of distractions, horses, cats, dog fights and even food. They also need to be extremely social, and that means not be overly friendly either. Overly friendly dogs actually cause a lot more fights than dogs who prefer to avoid other dogs because they come across as rude to other dogs, they are ‘in your face’, usually very high energy and the often jump on the other dog as well. A truly social dog is a calm dog, will give another dog a sniff, might engage in some polite playing when the body language invites them and also one that knows when to walk away. The dog also needs be tolerant of every breed and every temperament to be called truly social.

Now knowing this, do you not think it’s putting too much expectations on dogs? How can we expect a dog, a living being with emotions and thoughts to be perfect in every situation? I stopped recommending dog parks to clients long ago, and I stopped going to dog parks long ago as well. Instead, we organize controlled outings so dogs can socialize in groups where dogs feel comfortable in and leashes don’t need to be a concern. There are places who have fenced off areas where you can organize meet ups and know that your dog and dogs around you are safe and they can really be as free as they can.

Now let’s have a look at the side of things and understand why some dogs are kept on a leash and only go to on leash zones. Safety, is usually the number one reason. We see lots of humans who have reactive dogs, and those dogs are not bad dogs, they just need their space. Their dogs still deserve outings and adventures but they do so responsibly and always on leash. Management is the first thing we tell our clients with reactive dogs, make sure they can’t practice their reactivity because the more a dog practices a behaviour, the more they do it. So how are they supposed to manage the situation when a friendly dog comes bounding up to their on-leash and reactive dog? They can’t, and the situation is usually traumatic for the human, the reactive dog and sometimes the friendly dog too if they get too close.

You can’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, and unfortunately we will never be able to walk a mile in anyone’s shoes. Being considerate is something we might all have to work on, and in this situation, keeping your dog on a leash could help so many people. I personally never let Titan off a leash unless he is in a properly secured off area, and it’s not because he’ll ever harm a dog or human intentionally, but I can’t expect him to be perfect. We have lots of outings, all on a long line of either 5 or 10 meters and he has fun and so do I.

Subscribe for useful tips & tricks to help your dog thrive! We promise we won't bark too often!

Free Dog Training Tips

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Bark Vader Dog School will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates, marketing and to send you free tips and tricks on how to raise happy healthy pups!