-12 Walking to the local coffee shop one morning, my dog, Harry, alongside me on-leash, I overheard a passer-by compliment, "Look at that well-trained dog." "Nah," retorted another. "You should see the two big dogs outside the coffee shop. They walk off leash."
I knew these dogs. Their owner walked to the shop, left them outside while he bought coffee, then crossed a busy road into a park, all off leash. The dogs loitered in the shop doorway or sniffed Harry, tied up outside. They weren’t aggressive, just big, nosey and off leash, an intimidating combination for some dogs and people.
One day, there was only one big dog outside the coffee shop. When I asked the owner what had happened to the other dog, he replied that it had been run over. He then crossed the busy road, his surviving dog straggling behind, still off leash.
With regular training, Harry progressed from straining at the leash to walking obediently beside me on and off leash. He is a well-trained dog. However, I only ever walk him off leash while training in a park or at an obedience trial. (Of course, he’s let off to run in designated off-leash areas in parks.)
The NSW Companion Animals Act states: “A dog that is in a public place must be under the effective control of some competent person by means of an adequate chain, cord or leash that is attached to the dog and that is being held by (or secured to) the person.”
It’s a good, commonsense law. As mentioned, some people, particularly children, and dogs are fearful of dogs. A dog may only be a sniffer or a licker, but its uninvited approach can be as unsettling as if it were a snarling biter.
Also, I don’t want Harry hurt. A vet once soberly commented that all the dogs he saw run over were not on-leash at the time of the accident. Having Harry on-leash keeps him safe in all situations.
So even if you don’t train your dog, keep it on-leash when outside your front gate. It’s the law, it makes sense and it can save your dog.
© 2007 Robert Fairhead
Sydney, NSW, Australia.
A middle-aged dad and dog owner, Robert is an editor and a writer for Tall And True and blogs at RobertFairhead.com. He enjoys reading, writing, playing the guitar, walking his dog, and watching Aussie Rules Footy with his son. Robert has worked as an electrician, sales and marketing rep, computer programmer, dog trainer and (wanna-be) writer. He also had a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.
This article appeared in the Village Voice Eastern-Harbourside in February 2007 and in my local dog club newsletter, PawPrints (copy available online). Sadly since then, I’ve seen an increasing number of dogs off leash in the streets … and a number of dogs run over!