As most dog owners know, leash laws vary from place to place and the rules about whether your dog is allowed off leash in a certain area or not aren’t always clear. When in doubt, keep your dog on its leash.
Even dogs that are well trained and obedient when running off leash can become unpredictable in new situations. Some of the worst areas to let your dog off the leash are high traffic areas where cars and people, some of them with other dogs, pass by frequently. This area might be right outside your front door and your dog might think of it as an extension of its territory, but that doesn’t mean it will stay put no matter what. A new dog or a new person might come by and provoke a reaction. Even if your dog wants to run off just to say hi, it’s still running off and out of your control. Especially if it turns out that the other dog isn’t friendly, things could get ugly. Another scenario to consider: what if your dog wants to greet a person who is afraid of dogs? You might assure them that your dog is friendly and won’t hurt them, but that’s like trying to tell Indiana Jones that the snakes in the pit don’t mean him harm. As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to not only keep your dog safe, but to make sure it respects other animals and people who don’t want to interact with it.
So where is it OK to let your dog roam off leash? Your local dog park is the ideal place. The area is fenced in so Fido can’t run far, and the whole point of it is to have a safe space for friendly dogs to socialize. Many dog friendly apartment communities like Alvern Gardens and Cloverleaf Village have dog parks for their residents to enjoy. These parks are designed for those who don’t have a fenced in yard of their own to give their dogs exercise in a safe place. So why even bother letting your dog off the leash anywhere else?
Consider this as well: if you live in an apartment community, your landlord might have rules about keeping your dog on a leash when walking the community grounds. Abiding the rules of your community is important not just because the rules are in place for a reason, but because breaking the rules has consequences. For example, if you let your dog off the leash in and your landlord has prohibited this, you could lose the privilege of having a pet in the apartment at all. You could even be evicted for breaking the terms of your lease.
Whether you already have a dog or are thinking about adopting one, familiarize yourself with the leash laws of your county and state, as well as any ordinances that might be in place in your municipality. If you do choose to let your dog off its leash, always have the leash handy to reel your dog back under your control if needed.