LEASH LAWS EXIST FOR A REASON
I enjoy seeing a dog run free, without a leash as much as anybody else. The enjoyment they have while sprinting across a field of soft grass can almost be vicariously experienced simply by watching them. It feels good, to see your dog feel good. That makes you a caring and good dog owner. However, leash laws exist for a reason.
Community and Social Contract
Most laws we have originate from a problem. That problem was evaluated, reflected upon, and subsequently a law was created to hopefully decrease the chances of it happening again. When you live in a community with other people, understanding that everyone’s actions effect everyone else is essential. From Socrates to Plato, (two very old and very dead guys who thought a lot about stuff once upon a time ) the idea of people having to give up certain freedoms for the benefit of the group was the birth of social contract theory in philosophy. Leash laws absolutely are examples of such sacrifice.
When your freedom to do something encroaches on somebody else’s freedom, conflict arises. Many laws exist for the sole purpose of preventing far worse conflict that could arise from the participating individuals would seeking justice on their own. Terms like chaos and anarchy come to mind, as well as movies like The Purge. Within a society or on a smaller scale, a community, there needs to be some element of order to prevent that type chaos. Part of living in a community is acknowledging that there are others whom you must share a space with, whether it is a sidewalk or a park, and that comes with some sacrifice. If you do not wish to make lifestyle sacrifices then by all means, chose not to live in such a community.
A community with no leash laws is a community where dogs run amuck with owners tagging along behind. On any given day you might find two men engaged in a fight with each other as a result of a fight that their dogs got into first. Imagine the amount of potential conflict between humans that could result from such a situation. That doesn’t even address the potential problems and damage the dogs directly pose themselves.
Fair is Fair
I live in a community with plentiful sidewalks, a community access pool, and a park that is managed by the county within which it all can be found. The park has a small fenced in area that contains a nice playground area for children that has large prominent sign that says no dogs allowed.
One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know why that sign is there. A sandy fenced in area is mighty appealing for folks to turn it into an impromptu dog park. It wouldn’t take long for the area to be riddled with the stinkiest of non-lethal landmines upon which many an exuberant 4 year old might happen upon. Also, it prevents the possibility of children having to deal with a potentially non child friendly dog when they should be able to run and play in a safe and carefree environment. Yet every day I still see people walk directly passed the sign, with their dog, and unclip the leash and watch them go to the bathroom in there.
The same park also has a lovely maintained field that sits several feet below the adjacent road and sidewalk. It is PERFECT for a dog to run and play. There are very visible signs that cite the local municipal laws that prohibit dogs from being outside of the direct control of their owners via a leash or line. I use that area every day and many of the pictures you see posted on my Instagram and Facebook are taken there. You will see in each and every one of those pictures a line attached to the dog. While it may sound arrogant, the fact remains that of all the folks who use that park with their dog, I am the only one who actually has control of their animal and I’m not referring to the leash. If the dog was loose with not even a collar on she would behave the same way. The dog still wears a leash/line. Why?
The Lost Art of Consideration
It’s not actually an art, it’s a simple act of thinking of others in the actions you chose to make. As much as I use a leash because it is a law and I do not wish to suffer the consequences of noncompliance, I also understand the numerous reasons for which that law exists. The dog wearing a leash provides peace of mind for those folks I share that space with who might very well be terrified of dogs. I respect their fears immensely as I once shared them. Seeing a dog off leash now even gets me a bit uncomfortable as I am concerned with the ramifications of it making the very bad choice of being aggressive with me or heaven forbid, any dog that might be at the end of my own leash. I’m thinking of that poor dog who has no idea the sh*t-storm its about to find itself in and the owner who will subsequently find themselves under the same cloud. For others, the fear is of the harm they might be subject to at the teeth of an ill-mannered dog running loose.
If me and my extremely well-trained and obedient dog can respect the law and have a leash/line on, why can’t others? Why are they special and not subject to the laws and standards of the community? The arrogance of somebody to think that they are above showing consideration to others sharing a public space is rather disturbing. I fear it also follows a much larger trend in our country as a whole where people simply don’t feel compelled to be considerate of others. That reminds me of a quote by Robert E. Howard who was most known for his tales of the legendary Conan,
“Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.”
Use a leash or a line when not on your property and in the presence of others. It is not that difficult. While in most places it is the law, it is also about preventing the numerous problems that can arise from not using it.
You don’t have to spend a fortune acquiring one of these rather simple tools. For many years I have been making my own leashes/lines rather than spending excess $$$ for activities as simple as walking or out playing in a field. Considering that in a potentially dangerous situation this line is all that you have to avoid disaster, don’t go to Amazon and buy the cheapest thing you can find. Many leashes use inferior material for the clasps or the part that attached to the dog’s collar. I have seen these clasps break under unbelievably low stress/pressure.
Generally speaking, if it is good enough for a horse, its good enough for a dog. This is why the local tack shop is a great place to get the appropriate clasps and other hardware if you happen to have a particularly strong or powerful dog. Either way, homemade is always an option.
Like everything else in dog training, it is not complicated. Leash laws exist for a reason. If you make a choice to be non-compliant, be sure to accept the consequences with equal enthusiasm.