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4 Reasons to Keep your Friendly Dog on Leash

It has recently been announced that the city of Toronto is cracking down on off-leash dogs in public parks and beaches.

My opinion? Cautious optimism. After all, the exact same headlines popped up 2 years ago, and again last year. But here we are again.

By the way, we’re not talking about off-leash dog parks. This is about about dogs who roam public parks, beaches and sidewalks where the by-law states that they must be leashed.

There seems to be a growing number of dog owners who have deemed themselves exceptions to the law.

I hear it all the time: “But my dog is friendly”, “My dog has perfect recall”, “My dog hates the leash”, “My dog needs to run”.

And on the surface, it makes sense.

Torontonians LOVE their dogs, and would do anything to keep them happy and healthy.

So what’s wrong with letting your furry best friend run through the park to their heart’s content?
As it turns out, quite a few things!

From this Toronto dog walker to you, here are 4 reasons you should obey the leash laws.

#1: It’s safer for your dog

  • Not all dogs are friendly, even if yours is. Your dog could startle a fearful dog and get bitten.
  • Your dog could eat something poisonous or wander into poison ivy.
  • Your dog could get attacked by wildlife or stung by insects.
  • Your dog could step on broken glass or eat food scraps left in the park.
  • Your dog could get lost.
  • Your dog could run into the road and get hit by a car.
  • Your dog could drink polluted water and catch a parasite like Giardia.

#2: It’s safer for the public

  • Your dog could unintentionally injure a child, an elderly person, or a person with a disability by jumping on them or bumping into them.
  • Your dog could distract a service dog and put their handler in danger as a result.
  • Your dog could cause a panic attack in somebody who has a phobia.
  • Your dog could injure or kill Toronto wildlife.
  • Your dog could start a dog fight by running up to a reactive/fearful leashed dog. Anybody attempting to break up the fight can be injured as well.

#3: It’s all about respect

  • Everyone deserves to enjoy public parks without being forced to interact with off-leash dogs.
  • It’s easy to miss when your dog decides to relieve himself. Even well-meaning dog owners might accidentally contribute to the growing poop problem in Toronto parks.
  • Toronto has an abundance of off-leash parks where your pup is free to frolic to their heart’s content.

#4: It’s the law

  • I know it’s obvious, but it needs to be said. You might not agree with the law, but it’s your responsibility to follow it as a citizen of Toronto.
  • You can get fined over $350 for breaking this law.

Here are some great alternatives to off-leash play, to burn off excess energy and provide mental stimulation:

  • A brisk walk or hike (especially in the morning) works wonders for calming energetic dogs.
  • Run with your dog! There are special hands-free leashes designed for this.
  • Hire a dog walker to exercise your dog while you work! This will result in an overall calmer and happier pup.
  • Enrol your dog in agility training or Dog Parkour.
  • Play some indoor games such as tug, and kibble hide and seek!
  • Use puzzle toys to make your dog work for their dinner!
  • Teach your dog new and complex tricks! This is also a great bonding experience.

So, what do you think of the by-law crackdown? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

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