I was scrolling through social media while waiting on mom’s call. I came across a thread that I did not add my comments to because they were already stirred up and calling each other names. Over a hundred comments about keeping dogs leashed and under control on public hiking trails.
This is the post that started the whole thing: Can people PLEASE leash their dogs on national park land? Nantahala, pisgah, and blue ridge ALL require you to leash your dog. Went to looking glass rock yesterday and passed four off leash dogs one of which went all up in my mom and my dog’s business when I said “please no” to the owner who just stood there half assed saying “stop” to her dog instead of grabbing and leashing it. You are putting your dog and others at risk. Be more responsible please.
Nothing rude, nothing going off all attitude, it was a request for others to follow the law. But of course others took it and ran with it making it into what it clearly isn’t.
I’m sure at least most of us have seen the videos where people are with their dogs on a beach, or high up on a mountain top, they’re hiking or playing with their dogs and its an amazing time had by all. If, you are the only one on that beach or mountain it isn’t as bad, still not fully safe though, but you aren’t risking other people.
“Oh, my dog wouldn’t do that” doesn’t fly. I was on the mountain I live to hike one day with Bella. As we were going up, here comes a young guy down with his older, golden retriever. A dog always considered docile and friendly and, wouldn’t do that. A dog that came running toward and right up at Bella, who was on a leash. Bella, doesn’t mind other dogs, usually ignores them, unless she feels they are threatening me. Bella went into full on protective mode, which had me attempting to pull her away from a dog that just kept coming. This caused me to lose my footing on rocks, sitting down hard on the rocks and being sore for nearly a month from the bruising. The guy finally caught and pulled his dog away. He did help me up, but the fall wouldn’t have happened, the near dog fight wouldn’t have happened, if his dog had been safely leashed.
Even the dogs who just want to be friendly and get attention, can create issues. If they are more excitable, larger, stronger, and bump up against or onto an older person, or someone of any age who are less physically stable, they can cause them to fall. My niece has a huge goofball of a lab. This dog is the size of a small pony with the strength of a Clydesdale. This dog loves to have his ears scratched and will lean right up against you. My parents are elderly, this dog simply leaning on them can cause them to lose their balance.
You simply never know, when like people, your dog suddenly decides that it doesn’t like that other dog for what ever reason. They may not even be close, but simply see each other and make terrible first impressions. If either is unleashed, the fight could be on. Bella and I were up on the mountain one day maybe a year ago now. We were preparing to start the hike back down when Bella spotted two standard poodles through a rock outcropping. She started to growl very low in her throat. I called her name and kept her down the hill and away from the poodles. All she did was look up and see them and decided even from forty feet away, she didn’t like them.
Being on a leash, will also keep your dog safer. You can keep it away from other people and dogs yes. You can also keep it from running off and becoming lost. You can keep it away from any of the wildlife that may suddenly appear out of the woods.
I live in the country, in a county that has a leash law. I could take my dogs down in the woods behind my house, that is still my property and it would be fine for them to be off leash. I won’t, because if something pops up and runs, they are going to make chase. They are trained yes, but not enough that they could refuse the excitement of a good chase. At least at first, then they will recognize and obey my commands. Even on my own land, I will not leave them off leash. Because I want to be a responsible pet parent. I want to be the person who cares for my pets, and for people around me.
Leash training dogs is not all that difficult and is in no way cruel. No more than putting a seat belt on a youth and a child in a car seat. It may look cruel in the beginning, especially when they are fighting the restraint, but once adjusted they are fine.
Oh.. and cleaning up after your pets may be a bit disgusting, but its the responsible, polite thing to do. I know it and so do you.
Maybe people just want something to get all worked up about. Maybe people are bored and want to stir things up just because. Maybe, people feel just that entitled. If you don’t want to leash your pets for the safety of others, do it for the pet. Take the fear of loss or injury to them out of the hike.