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7 Reasons to Stop Letting Your Dog Off Leash

7 Reasons to Stop Letting Your Dog Off Leash

Acadia National Park in Maine holds a special place in my heart, as it probably does for anyone that has been there. It is simply one of the most gorgeous places in the US, and it offers something for everyone – from easy to difficult hikes, rocky beaches to sandy beaches, and even a 27 mile scenic loop drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain for the best pictures.

In the off season, Acadia feels like a secluded getaway, and you maybe run into a handful of people. In prime travel season (the summer months), it is packed, and you can barely stand to get a picture without bumping shoulders with someone. Acadia sees over 3 million visitors per year. 

Dogs are allowed in the park but must be attached on a 6 foot leash. There are some difficult trails and some beaches, along with a few other spots, that do have restrictions and where dogs cannot go. All of those details can be found here. 

However, there have been 3 instances this past week of visitors being bitten by off leash dogs.

While I’ve been lucky enough to not run into that issue at Acadia, I have had many issues with off leash dogs on several hikes around my home. 

Let me be clear – people with off leash dogs are ruining it for everyone. Not only are they ruining the experience for anyone they may directly come in contact with, but they are also potentially ruining it for everyone in the future. Most parks have leash laws. By violating those leash laws, they are risking these places to no longer allow dogs in the future.

 

 

Why Does your dog need to be off leash?

He doesn’t.

  

There are no ifs, ands, or buts. I assure you – your dog DOES NOT have some intrinsic requirement to be off leash. Your dog is not getting some magical benefit of simply being free of a 6 foot leash for a couple hours that is worth breaking the law, ruining the visit for all of the other visitors, and potentially worth getting in an altercation or having a police report filed as a result of said altercation.

The main argument is that the dogs get “so much more exercise off leash,” and that they’re just “so much happier” running off leash. Let me assure you, your dog is getting plenty of exercise on a 6 foot leash. Just because he is attached to a 6 foot leash does not mean he is not getting a cardiovascular workout, because he is.  

7 Reasons to not let your dog off leash

  1. THE LAW
    • MOST places require dogs to be on a 6 foot leash. It is the law. When parks continue to get unhappy visitors due to those breaking the law or continued reports of dog bites from off leash dogs, it is a very real possibility that they will start banning dogs altogether. Then what are you going to do, and where are you going to go?
  2. OTHER dogs, children, people
    • I know we are living in the most self-absorbed and selfish time of history. People care more about themselves than anyone or anything. But, for just a couple of hours, can’t you do better? Can’t you be a better person than the majority of people? Can’t you care just the tiniest bit about others? There may be other dogs on the trail that don’t like dogs. There may be children who have been attacked and are terrified of dogs. There may be people who don’t like dogs, or elderly people who may fall if your dog bumps into them accidentally.
  3. wildlife
    • Wildlife is everywhere. Bears, coyotes, snakes, porcupines, etc. can all do serious damage to your dog if your dog gets into a scuffle. Plus, what about the smaller wildlife – baby birds and rabbits – will your dog leave those alone or will they incite your dog’s prey drive which may result in a dead animal?
  4. unsafe water
    • Most dogs, especially during a long and hot hike, will naturally get into any body of water they see. I’m sure you’ve seen the news stories all over the country recently, but there are serious concerns of blue-green algae in water. It can be in ponds, lakes, and rivers. The water can even look clear, but it unfortunately could still be contaminated. There’s just no way to know. Exposure to this blue-green algae can easily kill your dog in about an hour. In many parts of the country, there are also serious concerns of leptospirosis. This is a bacteria also found in standing water, which can be treatable if treated quickly, but otherwise, it too can be fatal.
  5. does your dog really have a reliable recall?
    • I have come across some parks that have signs stating something to the effect of, “Dogs must be on leash unless under direct voice control at all times.” This essentially means your dog can be off leash, as long as you can recall him. But, can you really recall him? Can you recall him off of a deer, bear, snake, or squirrel? Can you recall him off the family you may be passing that’s all eating delicious smelling beef jerky? Can you recall him off the excitable dog approaching who is on a leash? Most people like to think they their dog has a fabulous recall, but unfortunately, that is not the truth. Just because your dog has a great recall at home does not mean he will have a great recall on the trail with so many more exciting sights and smells.
  6. tick borne diseases
    • If your dog is off leash, he is likely to be traipsing through the tall grasses off the trail. While ticks are naturally a concern anytime you go outdoors, their prime environment is in those tall bushy grasses. So while you may not be seeing any ticks on the well maintained trail, your dog could be picking up tons in those tall grasses. Is a 2 hour off leash walk really worth a lifetime of tick borne disease?
  7. LONG LINES DO EXIST
    • Again, a lot of parks have a very specific “dog must be attached to a 6 foot leash” rule. But, for parks that don’t have that rule, you can always use a long line. You can find long lines that range from 8 feet to 50 feet long! With the use of a long line, your dog has more room to roam, but is still connected to you, so you don’t have to worry about everything else I’ve just listed here. My personal favorite long lines are the brahma long lines from Bold Lead Designs.

If you’ve read this and for some reason, you still think your dog just absolutely needs to be off leash, then you need to find a place that explicitly allows dogs off leash. These places do exist, so do some research! There are many smaller secluded areas in larger parks off of the trails that are explicitly off leash friendly. You could also consider just taking your dog to a local dog park (try going at odd hours to avoid others if you wish).

Do you let your dog off leash? What do you do to ensure you follow the law and don’t bother other visitors? What about those of you who have been rushed by off leash dogs? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!

7 Tips for Traveling with Your Reactive Dog

7 Tips for Traveling with Your Reactive Dog

Do you have any fun trips planned before summer is officially over? Or maybe you’re like me, and you actually prefer to travel when the weather is cooler in the fall. Either way, these tips will have you covered!

Buster is now 7 years old, and we have traveled together his entire life. In the past few years, we have made it an effort to travel even more than usual! To be honest, I’m mostly a homebody, but I love going on adventures with my dog! 

We also went to Maine for the first time ever back in 2017, and we have been back multiple times since! Maine holds a particularly special place in my heart, and let me tell you, I truly hope to call that state home in the next 1-3 years. But, until then, we will keep traveling there as often as possible!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a qualifying purchase. 

TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH YOUR REACTIVE DOG

1.) Confine your dog inside of your vehicle.

Don’t let your dog run around loose in your vehicle. This can cause major safety concerns not only for your dog, but also for the driver and any passengers. It’s much safer if your dog is confined while traveling. There are a variety of options – ranging from expensive crash tested crates like this one from Variocage and crash tested seatbelt restraints like this one from Sleepypod. You could even use a normal soft travel crate, or even a regular plastic or metal crate, but just be aware that they might not provide a lot of protection in the event of an accident.

As an added bonus, a lot of reactive dogs actually travel in the car much better when they’re confined in a crate. They can’t see any triggers outside of the window to react to! You could even drape a sheet or towel to cover the crate, which may actually make your dog feel more comfortable and sleep through the entire car ride.

2.) Try to coordinate potty breaks with the food/fuel stops you’ll already be having to make.

If you can, I highly recommend coordinating your dog’s potty breaks with the stops you’ll need to make for fuel and food. I know though – sometimes nature calls! Traveling with a dog can easily add 1-2 hours onto your trip time  when you add up all the potty breaks, so try to coordinate it with the already necessary stops to save some time.

 

3.) Make sure to pack your dog’s normal food, along with his food and water bowls.

Traveling for even the most well-traveled dog can be a little stressful, so make sure you bring all of the normal stuff your dog is already used to, including food. The last thing you want is to have buy a different kind of food on the road because you forgot to pack some! That can result in tummy ups

4.) Make sure to bring at least 1 durable puzzle toy that can be stuffed with food and frozen.

 You could bring something like a Kong Extreme or the West Paw Toppl. These provide entertainment and can help release some energyy. You can simply stuff your dog’s normal food in them, fill with water, and freeze, or you can stuff with something yummier like peanut butter or yogurt.

5.) Always travel with a dog first aid kit.

As the old saying goes – “better safe than sorry.” You should always travel with a first aid kit for your dog, but we’ll hope that you never need to use it! The good news is that a lot of things can do double duty for humans and dogs, so if you get scratched up, you can patch yourself up with items in this kit! If you’re not sure what your dog first aid kit should include, you can download my free checklist here.

I keep a larger first aid kit in a tupperware in my car at all times, and I travel with this much more portable dog first aid kit in my backpack throughout when we go on hikes, etc.

6.) Always travel with your dog’s Rabies certificate, vaccine records, and an In Case of Emergency sheet.

Again – better safe than sorry! This information will be incredibly useful to first responders in the event of an accident.

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7.) Some reactive dogs can benefit from a calming supplement while traveling.

Some reactive dogs have a harder time traveling than others. Buster is quite used to it by now, but I do still ocassionaly use this Richard’s Organics Pet Calm. This is an all-natural product that relieves stress. I notice a huge difference in Buster when I use this! It really seems to take the edge off. Alternatively, you could also try CBD oil.

FREE BONUS!

I’ve created a free resource so that you can stress less and focus your time and energy on having a fun adventure with your dog! Click the image below and you can download my Dog Friendly Travel Checklist & Tips. It also includes a printable In Case of Emergency sheet, so that you’ll have everything you need to travel and have a great time with your dog!

Tell me in the comments below – where are you headed with your dog? I’d love to hear about some of your favorite places to travel to. What are some of your favorite travel tips?