There has been recent debate on whether or not dogs should be allowed to run free, off lead in parks in the UK. The current law states that it is against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, one of these places being a public place including parks. The fine for breaking this law is up to a £5,000 fine or a 6 month prison sentence. Further, local councils can issue Dog Control Orders (DCOs) which mean that you may have to keep your dog on the lead in that public area.
My view on this subject is simple and echoed by many dog owners across the UK – dogs require sufficient exercise which includes being allowed to run freely off lead – therefore it would be ludicrous to enforce a law stipulating that dogs should be kept on leads in all public places. Enforcing dogs to be on leads in public parks will only deter dog owners from visiting these areas, and also further the gap between dog lovers and dog haters!
I understand that this debate has been somewhat forced by the unfortunate instances which can occur when a poorly trained dogs are allowed off lead and resulting in either the dog itself, another dog or a human bring injured. There also still exists those dog owners who refuse to pick up their dogs waste – for this there is no excuse and I for one wish it was more easy to police and fine people who fail to do it.
I can sympathise and agree that some dogs can be a nuisance in public places, every morning there is an unruly labradoodle running up to us and then following us home, the owner does not even attempt to recall the dog or seem bothered when we have to take him back to him by the collar!!
My personal view is that the law is sufficient as it is – I believe that owners should be held to account if they do not have sufficient control over their dog in either a public or private place leading to accident or injury.
Know your dog and its limitations, if your recall is no good – practice, practice, and practice some more. Practice at home and in the park and in a variety of other environments with a long line so that you can perfect your recall and be sure that wherever you are, you have full control of your dog no matter what distractions may arise.
Until you are 100% sure your dog will listen to your instruction when off the lead, keep them on a retractable lead to allow them to run a little. Perhaps you could take your dog for a run on the lead to help exercise the dog and improve your own fitness!
DCOs have their place and in areas where there is livestock I agree that dogs should be kept on a lead, even if you have a good recall, certain breeds might allow their natural instincts to kick in and see a field of livestock as an open invitation to chase.