When I started Keep the Tail Wagging, I was pro off leash dog parks and leash-less walks. Today, I’ve kind of changed my mind…
The Evolution of the Dog Park
What I loved about dog parks was that our dogs got much needed play time, exercise, and socialization while I got to meet other dog parents. It was a great learning environment for the humans and the dogs. And then people stopped monitoring their dogs. I first started noticing the people who pretended that they didn’t see their dogs take a big ‘ole crap, but then it quickly morphed into the human on the phone on one end of the park while their dog was bullying dogs at the other end.
After many unhappy visits to the off leash dog park, I realized that it wasn’t the place for us and opted for off leash pack walks instead.
The Evolution of the Off Leash Pack Walk
This was great, because our dogs got play time, exercise, and socialization and there were always moments for training. The ladies I walked with were friendly and a few were Twilight movie lovers (yes, the movies are crappy, but a guilty pleasure of mine). We weren’t supposed to be walking the dogs off leash on the fields surrounding the off leash dog park, but our dogs are friendly so who are we hurting?
When we adopted Blue, the pack walk didn’t work for us any longer, because we had our own pack. So I started walking our dogs off leash on my own or with Johan. I never worried about it, because Johan’s a cop so if anyone complained, I had a cop on my side. Yes, that’s cheating – don’t worry, I soon realized that it’s not about the law. The only problem we had were when Rodrigo wanted to greet other dogs – which he often did.
Having been on the receiving end of a dog running towards us at high speed, I hated these moments when Rodrigo’s had a Recall Fail and took off.
Putting the Dogs Back on the Leash
So now we walk the dogs on the leash again. The introduction of the leash wasn’t popular. The dogs have mixed feelings. On one paw – WE’RE GOING FOR A WALK!!!!!! – on the other paw, they aren’t stoked about wearing a harness. Now that they’re back on the leash, we can walk them on the Centennial Trail (which borders our property), we can take them to the trails around the airport, and there are a lot of other places now open to our pack. They just need to be on the leash.
Another benefit of putting them back on the leash is that they come home clean. No matter where we went, at least one of the dogs managed to find the smelliest thing to dance in (decaying grass, dead fish, or remains of a coyote kill).
The only place that the dogs are still off leash is the off leash dog park / beach in Edmonds. I love that place, they love it more and we love going early in the morning. And then at home, where they’ve learned that “there’s a bicycle” means to run to the edge of the property to watch the cyclists on the trail.
So, what are your thoughts? Should dogs be off leash or on leash?