Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Oct 1 · 6 min read
Photo credit: skeeze/Pixabay

I saw him from across the street. His senior dog was cruising alongside him, and the dog I was walking stiffened on the other side of my running leash. I crossed the street. The dog owner saw a friend on the other side of the street and circled across the street a second time, senior dog cruising slowly behind. I walked across the street a second time, glancing down to see the alert ears of my observant four-legged friend. I could see her muscles flexing as she walked.

Finally I yelled out, “Will you please put your dog on a leash? I’ve crossed the street twice already. My dog is a bit of a jumper.”

The friend of the dog owner turned, looked at the dog I was with and retorted, “Well, how do you know this dog wouldn’t jump on her?”

My response, “I don’t care who can jump. My point is to help them avoid contact.”

Photo credit: birgl/Pixabay

The dog owner quietly put the senior dog on a leash. And even with both dogs on leashes, my scrappy 2-year-old still tried to jump. I almost went tumbling on the other end of the running leash trying to keep her away.

I could tell the senior dog had outgrown his scrappy days. But I knew my energetic friend way more and could already predict this would happen. It’s how I mastered keeping my balance when she tried to sneak and jump on the other dog. Even socialized dogs have moments in which they’re in rare form. And the last thing responsible dog walkers and dog owners need to see is an unleashed dog running amok.

Your loose dog has no idea that, for example, in a state like Illinois, animal control wardens can use tranquilizer guns and other nonlethal weapons and equipment without specific weapons authorization.

I will never understand why dog owners (or dog walkers) let dogs run loose. Forty-seven dogs later and more than 257 walks completed, I see someone strolling with their loose dog almost every time I’m walking in the city of Chicago or suburbs— on a residential sidewalk, in parks (where leash signs are obvious) and on busy streets.

While some dog owners may be confident in their psychic abilities about their own dogs, they don’t know what to expect with other dogs.

While some dog owners may be confident in their psychic abilities about their own dogs, they don’t know what to expect with other dogs.

Here are 10 reasons I’ve personally experienced for why you should keep your dog on a leash:

  1. You avoid the possibility of another dog in heat jumping on your dog. I watched one dog hop on another dog like she was a horse, just pumping away. Unless you were all set for the puppy party, do not let dogs in heat get near each other.
  2. You decrease the possibility of your dog doing something impulsive. Last week a man strolled down the street with his loose puppy, who decided to walk underneath my leashed dog to sniff him. No other dog should be comfortable enough to do that to a dog unless the two know each other.
  3. You could endanger your own dog should either one become aggressive. Unless you’ve just so happened to memorize all the tips and tricks for how to break up a dog fight, you’ve set everybody up for failure should the two dogs be in a scrappy mood.
  4. You lower the odds of agitating the leashed dog. Imagine if you were handcuffed while another person’s arms were free. Then this person started yelling or being aggressive toward you. By default, one has the upper hand.
  5. You’re making dog-fearing people extremely uncomfortable. Sure, you think your dog is adorable and lots of people ask to pet her. But for people who don’t like dogs, this can be a particularly scary experience to see a dog just walking loosely nearby. And if that loose dog is the friendly type who enjoys hopping on random people, now you’ve made a nervous situation into absolute terror.
Photo credit: MikesPhotos/Pixabay

6. You’ll be blamed for putting wildlife in danger. Unless you lucked up on a dog who doesn’t chase squirrels, birds, chipmunks, rabbits and other freely running wildlife, you just set them up for failure. And if they’re not quick enough, you will definitely be held responsible for the looks of shame and cleanup should your dog get to any wildlife before you can stop him.

7. Sometimes other dogs just like people more than other dogs. Maybe your dog is friendly. Maybe your dog just wants to run and play and be at peace with the world. But if she runs up to say “hello” to a leashed dog who just does not like other dogs, it can be about as awkward as your annoying boss inviting you to her baby shower. Don’t put other dogs in these cringe-worthy positions. The leashed anti-social dog will growl or lunge forward. Your loose dog will have hurt feelings. And this could’ve all been avoided if both of you could save face and walk on with your leashes.

8. Your dog can and will ignore you saying his name. This happens in dog parks nonstop. Someone with a loose dog will think calling the loose dog’s name will make the dog completely stop what he’s doing. It rarely works. The dog only stops once the dog owner realizes her arms work and she has to reach out to get the dog. Unless your dog is so heavily trained that he will stop like an army veteran at the sound of his name, you’d have more luck with a lottery ticket.

9. You paid for dog walking equipment. The point of a dog walk is to give the dog the opportunity to release herself outside and get some exercise. But why blow money on a leash, a harness or a lede to not use it? You didn’t buy it to walk your dog in the backyard, did you?

Photo credit: Charles Roth/Pexels

10. You are risking your dog’s life against animal control. If your dog gets loose without a collar or license, you heighten the risk of your dog being put to sleep. Your loose dog has no idea that, for example, in a state like Illinois, animal control wardens can use tranquilizer guns and other nonlethal weapons and equipment without specific weapons authorization. And even if your dog just happens to spontaneously run across the street, you put other drivers in danger trying to jerk out of the way of a loose dog.

Your dog is adorable. You want her to be seen. We get it. Guess what? Leashed dog owners and dog walkers think their dogs are the coolest friend on four legs too. But enjoy all that cool while leashed.

Doggone World

This “Doggone World” publication is for dog lovers, dog walkers, dog owners and all bark-related, feel-good activity.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

14-year journalist; freelance writer/editor (Upwork); Wag! dog walker; Rover dog sitter; Toastmasters VPPR & member; cohost of Do Not Submit; Shamontiel.com

Doggone World

This “Doggone World” publication is for dog lovers, dog walkers, dog owners and all bark-related, feel-good activity.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade