I’ll admit, I have broken many a leash law in my day with my dog, Montague. He’s very well behaved and listens to me despite distractions, so in certain situations I trust he will be safe off leash. But, really, we should never do that. And here’s why:
1. Other dogs. Your dog may be great off leash, and may be awesome with other dogs. But other dogs may not be so great with your dog. Having your pup off leash creates a tension automatically with any dog he walks up to, because that dog knows they are restricted (on a leash) while your dog is not and that can cause aggression. Also, other dogs may just not be fans of dogs so your dog being off leash and out of your control could cause some serious issues if/when he runs up to a non-dog friendly dog.
2. Wildlife. I think we can all agree that if our dog sees a bunny, squirrel, or other chase-able animal, all bets are off and they are not listening to you. Running off after wildlife can cause safety issues for both your dog and the wildlife. Also, snakes. I can’t tell you how many times Monty and I come across a snake on the trails. Most of the time, they are bull snakes and therefore pretty much harmless, but poisonous snakes are out there and will bite if provoked. Dogs usually don’t know to be wary of snakes and normally are curious. This is very dangerous for your pup and could lead to serious injury or even death.
3. Safety. Overall, it can just be unsafe to have your dog off leash. Monty and I regularly go hiking in the mountains where some trails have steep drop offs and loose rocks. Having him on a harness and leash allows me to catch him if were to slip (which has happened). It also can be unsafe for the environment. Many trails border or go through protected land, which can be disturbed or destroyed when dogs romp through them (example: endangered animal nest your dog runs over).
I agree it can be annoying to follow leash laws, but overall, it’s for the greater good to follow them. Please think twice before taking the leash off and have fun out there walking and hiking with your pups this summer!