The country’s parks continue to become more and more pet-friendly. Dog parks are popping up everywhere, as well as dog beaches, pet-friendly restaurants, and more. While it is great to let your dog roam off-leash while at the dog park, this is not appropriate at just any outdoor location. If the park is made specifically for dogs, then they are usually allowed to be off-leash. All owners who bring their dogs are doing so by choice and are aware that there are some risks involved when bringing their dog to an off-leash park. However, when you are in a public park that is not a dog park, it is another story.
It’s important to keep your dog leashed when in public parks because of the potential risks to your dog and other dogs. Although you may know your dog very well, others do not know your dog well and you definitely do not know others’ dogs well. If your dog is a well-behaved off-leash dog, that is great, but only if there are not any other dogs around.
If your dog likes to approach other leashed dogs, you never know when the other dog may be nervous or scared or lash out at your dog. If there are multiple off-leash dogs in a public (non-dog) park, then it is difficult to judge their behaviors. There is always the potential of dogs fighting.
The most difficult part about having a dog off-leash in a non-dog park is that you do not have full control over the situation. Typically these parks are not fenced like dog parks are, so you cannot control whether or not your dog may run off. Just as well, you cannot fully prevent your dog from approaching other dogs or people without a leash. For safety and insurance, it is best just to keep your dog leashed unless you are at a designated off-leash area.