According to the Kennel Club’s guidance, which is on their ‘Responsibility and Care leaflet.
“No matter how well trained or under control a dog might be, it should never be walked off lead in environmentally unsuitable areas or those that do not permit dogs to be off lead”.
Lets face it, there are people out there that do not like to interact with dogs. I know, weird, but listen.
Many people have had frightening encounters with dogs just walking down the street. There are many other reasons why we dog owners should be a bit more appreciative of how other people think.
People with mobility limitations, senior citizens, parents with children, people with assistance dogs, other dog owners who’s dogs are maybe reactive or sick, maybe in rehabilitation after surgery. I have a black Lab called Ben who last week just went through some major surgery to remove a Lipoma. Quite a large fatty lump about the size of a grapefruit hanging under his belly. But he is now just recovering and doesn’t get out for long walks. To complicate matters worse he has bilateral laryngeal paralyses, which means I can no longer put a collar around his neck. So I have to use a harness. The point is when I walk him I am constantly looking out for other dog/owner combinations to make sure they don’t come anywhere near us, because I know Ben is a bit grumpy right now and protective of his wound. The people I have described above see a lead as signal that the oncoming dog is under control and won’t jump on them or attack their children. The lead in this case reduces their panic and reassures them. Another reason for keeping our dogs on a lead in public places is that it keeps them safe. Every time something happens, like our dog runs over and knocks over a child or has a go at another dog, or even runs out in front of a car chasing a ball, its always ‘the first time they have ever done that’. Off course it is, because once they have done that one time we learn and make sure it doesn’t happen again by putting them on a lead. Well take this as a warning now, our dogs are not robots. Our dogs are great dogs, but like us they sometimes don’t make great decisions. Sometimes nature gets the better of them and their hard wired instincts are just too powerful and the ‘chase’ is on. And every time it happens we are caught out. I don’t care how good your dog is at walking by your side under voice control. With the right motivation your dog will at some point make a conscious decision to take off, just when you least expect it.
So for your sake, for the sake of your dog and for the sake of other people and other dogs. Keep your dog on a lead in environmentally unsuitable areas. And when you eventually get to an area that is safe to let them off a lead you must remain constantly vigil. Get rid of the phone, don’t get engrossed in a conversation and make sure you can see your dog at all times. Be safe, be smart, be a responsible dog owner. We are ALL depending on you.