Leash laws are not simply a suggestion. They are put in place to keep both your pets and those
around you safe.
This weekend, while out walking on the Hike and Bike Trail in beautiful downtown Austin, we encountered a woman walking with her son and their dog. Their dog was wearing a collar but not on a leash. As she passed the “All dogs must be on leash” sign, she simply ignored it and continued ahead. Within 20 steps, a cyclist nearly crashed into her dog, swerving to avoid the loose pet and nearly running into me and my husband. Negative words were exchanged between the cyclist and the dog owner. After, the dog owner composed herself and attempted to laugh it off by making a joke to me criticizing the biker's attitude.
At this point, I noted that the cyclist wasn't wrong and that her dog should be on a leash A lightly heated disagreement ensued. This woman claimed that because her dog was well behaved, a leash was not necessary. I don’t disagree that her dog was not amazing. She stayed beside her owner throughout the entire encounter and never ventured more than 2 feet from her family. That isn’t the point, however. Leash laws are there to protect dogs, yes, but they are also there to protect people.
Your dog, not matter how well behaved, should always be on a leash unless you are in a designated off-leash area or a privately owned yard.
Leash laws are put in place for reasons beyond your dog.
Safety. In this particular scenario, had the cyclist hit her dog, both the pup and the cyclist could have been seriously injured. Putting others at risk so you don’t have to hold a leash is selfish and irresponsible.
Not all dogs are friendly. If a reactive dog approaches your dog, how will you control the scenario and pull your dog from the situation? You can’t and it could mean a fight in which a put gets injured.
Not everyone loves dogs. It’s hard to believe, but some people do not want a strange dog approaching them. With your dog off leash, no matter how well behaved, there is a chance he/she will approach someone that is allergic or simply does not want to be approached.
Leashes can be your lifeline to your dog. Loud noises, traffic, an unexpected biker, another excited dog all have the potential to startle your pet. Your leash is a safety net for an insecure moment for your pooch.
Keeping your dog on leash could prevent them from eating mysterious items. Litter, garbage or other food items that are not healthy or even fatal could be encountered. Your leash would provide a great deterrent for your pet.
Your pet could wander off. A squirrel is a tempting treat and could easily lure a dog away from their owners.
Traffic. Although the trails feel secluded while you are walking among the trees, traffic is a real risk for pets that are not on leash. If your pet wanders off into traffic, it could prove fatal for them and / or others.
It’s responsible and it’s the law. Austin is an incredibly dog friendly city. Let’s keep it that way by respecting both the laws put in place to protect our pets and citizens and simply by respecting the fact that others are also trying to enjoy the trails downtown.
Our next blog will feature some amazing off leash parks around ATX that you and your dog can enjoy!