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home : columns : columns April 29, 2016

1/21/2014 12:27:00 PM
Should your dog be leashed?
Logan walking on leash. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
+ click to enlarge
Logan walking on leash. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

It's a sunny spring day and you and your leashed mini-poodle are taking a leisurely stroll in the park. You're smiling and his tail is wagging. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a Great Dane bounds by to say hello, he's unleashed and his human is running over to catch him. Meanwhile your pooch is shaking from fright. The relaxing walk that you two were taking is over.

Does Deschutes County have a leash law? No. However, it does have an "at large" ordinance. According to Deschutes County animal control, County Code 6.08.15 defines "at large" to mean a dog or other animal found off the premise of the owner or keeper while the dog or animal is not under the complete control of a capable person. This would allow for dogs that are trained to be off the leash; however it would require them to be under the control of the handler.

But, as a responsible pet-owner, should you allow your dog to run free, or be off-leash while you walk together? What could happen while your pooch is off leash, even with you nearby?

Dogs get distracted. Even if your pooch is under strong verbal command, it's all too easy for him to have "selective hearing" when running around off-leash. You may think you have Fido under control, but if a cat went running under his nose he just might chase it. What if something suddenly spooked your dog, like a vehicle backfiring? He could end up out in the street and in that moment get hit by a car.

You may own a friendly dog, but what about all the other dogs? Your dog could be attacked by another dog if that animal considers your dog to be invading his territory. Or another dog may see your unleashed pet as a potential danger to his human. Your dog could be seriously hurt.

While off-leash, your dog could accidently scare an elderly person and cause him to fall. Remember, you are responsible for your dog's behavior.

Your dog could end up eating something unhealthy. Dogs love to put things in their mouth, and you may not notice him chewing on a poisonous plant.

A dog that is not on a leash could defecate in an area that you may not notice. This could be extremely annoying to the other people in the area.

Our furry friends do seem to be happier off-leash; it's their nature to be able to roam, smell, roll, splash through streams and chase squirrels up trees.

There are seven off-leash dog-parks in Bend where your pooch can frolic and play, which includes socializing with other dogs.

Many people bring their dogs along to the numerous hiking trails in Central Oregon. It's wonderful exercise for Fido.

For some hikers, the rewards of hiking with their dog off-leash far outweigh the drawbacks.

Rachel Baum, a dog-behavior therapist and master trainer, recommends that anyone about to head into the forest trails, know their dog well before taking him along.

Bring a leash with you in case you need it. This could include for encounters with wildlife - cougars or bears - or conditions like mud that you would like to avoid.

Beyond safety issues, unleashed dogs, even when friendly, can still be a pest to other hikers, particularly when they beg for food or are wet and dirty. So if you're bringing Fido along on your next outing and want to hike with him off-leash, be prepared to rein in his enthusiasm and keep him under control. Not everyone loves your dog as much as you do.

Wherever you decide to take your dog for an outing, whether it's a park, walking down the street or hiking on a trail, remember to be courteous of others.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Article comment by: Sue Blindheim

While enjoying a nice hike on paddle lakes trail #31
today, a big dog jumped my backside pawing his two front muddy paws onto my clean shirt without warning. Angrily, I told the owner that a leash law should be in place. She said nothing, no "I'm sorry", nothing. Dog love has gone too far! Too many dog shops catering to lonely people. Love should be expressed to fellow man too. Leash law, Deschutes County, YES!

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