Unleashed dogs are a sign of irresponsible owners and pose an unnecessary danger


Eva Harshman

My dog, Leon, all geared up in his harness after a winter walk.

Nothing is more freeing than the feeling of running alongside man’s best friend in an open field without a single restraint. While I’ve only done this in my yard on a much smaller scale, I loved sprinting with my puppy up and down a mini hill. In fact, I used to go everywhere with Leon off-leash since he was such a clingy puppy.

One day, when I was walking Leon off-leash by myself, he saw a neighbor’s cat and darted behind a house. Typically, he wouldn’t stray too far, but after chasing him down nearly in tears, I didn’t dare to walk Leon off-leash again. It’s unfortunate that it took something like this to scare me into always leashing my dog, but in truth, we were both quite lucky compared to other possible consequences.

This seems to be a controversial opinion, especially on “dogTok,” but dogs should always be leashed. Always.

Among those who choose not to leash their dogs, there seems to be a false sense of superiority. I see an abundance of, “I’m not a doodle owner who lets their dog just run off. He has great recall.” The issues with statements such as these are never-ending.

For starters, breed is completely irrelevant. Any owner can be irresponsible with teaching their dog recall regardless of the breed of the dog. Additionally, recall is also not a valid reason to leave a dog unleashed. While this is a valuable skill for a dog to learn in the case that it gets out, it should not be used on a daily basis while the dog is off-leash.

This seems to be a controversial opinion, especially on “dogTok,” but dogs should always be leashed. Always.

This is due to the fact that regardless of the friendliness, sociability, and recall of the dog, it can still be in danger and pose a danger. Dogs still act partially on instinct, and they could act out of character if they feel threatened. It is the owner’s responsibility to acknowledge that their dog, no matter how safe, can always act out of fear, so they should keep them close and restrained at all times.

Furthermore, even if the unleashed dog isn’t a threat, it could be harmed by another dog. For example, another owner may have a dog-reactive dog that is leashed in order to protect others. When an unleashed but friendly dog approaches a reactive dog, the dog may attack even though the other owner was doing their part to protect others by leashing their reactive dog. Despite the fact that the unleashed dog owner was putting their dog in danger, the leashed dog owner may still be considered at fault.

Finally, in many places, it is actually illegal to have a dog unleashed in public places. It is reasonable to have a dog within an invisible fence in a yard or a free-range farm dog, but it is against the law in Michigan to have a dog off-leash on public property due to the possible dangers.

Although it feels wrong to restrain a dog from being free and burning off energy as it pleases, this is achievable through proper exercise on a leash or within the safety of a dog run or fence. In order to maintain the safety and well-being of all parties involved, leashing a dog is completely necessary.