Law Should Define ‘Under Control' As Something More Than ‘On Leash'

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Editor:

I'd like to offer some food for thought regarding the recent article on the proposed overhaul of the current law to make it clear that dogs must be on a leash any time they leave their yard and to create categories of problem dogs.

Most of us realize that a leash in and of itself does not make a well-behaved dog. In fact, an over-reactive dog on leash can create more havoc than a loose dog. Walking the former dog on retractable leash is a recipe for disaster.

The reason a leash alone is not the answer is that many uneducated dog owners allow their leashed dogs to pull ahead, a position that tells the dog that he or she is the pack leader who must constantly scan the environment, watching out for and defending against all perceived dangers, because the owner sure isn't doing so. An insecure dog, knowing that he or she was not put on earth to lead, can become over-reactive and may actually draw the attention of another dog, one who is perhaps more confident, but similarly misinformed about his leadership credentials, and a fight ensues.

I agree with Mr. Bishop regarding a dog's need for adequate exercise and the lack of places where a dog can be allowed to run off-leash while under the control of a human. (The off leash park is not what I'm talking about.)

What we need, in my opinion, is a law that defines "under control" as something more than "on leash." I see plenty of leashed dogs who are NOT, at least to my eyes, under control.

I don't wish to make law enforcement's job any more difficult, but I'd like to know what happens when one leashed dog is attacked by another leashed dog. Where the "fault" lies may well be open to debate. The dog who initiates the attack may well not be the one who caused the fight. An educated owner (and a trained dog) at least have a better chance of avoiding such situations.

I am a professional dog trainer/behaviorist, and I do train for off-leash control. I would welcome a licensing system or test of some sort that would enable people who have attained a certain level or proficiency to train for off-leash reliability out in public because training with real-world distractions is necessary to build reliability.

If the question ever comes up for consideration, I would make myself available to assist in forming guidelines in a heartbeat.

Lori Chandler

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