LET DOGS HIKE: Lift or Modify the Leash Law in Bent Creek Recreation Area

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"There's no such thing as a bad dog, just bad owners." John Grogan

A small number of 'bad dog' incidents should not affect the remaining majority of responsible dog owners. This argument is not based on opinion but on fact as cited in substantiated research as indicated throughout.

Local dog parks, backyards and walking leashed dogs do not adequately exercise larger breed working-class dogs who need a substantial amount of exercise in the form of walking and running several miles a day. Furthermore, Evidence indicates that inadequate exercise can lead to aggression, excessive barking and other destructive behaviors.

Off-leash dogs do not represent a statistically significant threat to you outdoors. An under-control off-leash dog is no more likely to cause you harm than a leashed dog. In fact, 75 percent of dog bites occur on the victim’s own property, and the vast majority of victims know the dog that bites them. You are more at risk of a dog bite at home than you are hanging out in the woods. Dogs are also less likely to be aggressive off-leash than they are on one. 

It is scientifically proven that off-leash dogs in green spaces pay more attention to their owner than on-leash dogs.  In The United States where dogs are mostly on-leash there are 800,000 dog bites each year that require medical attention. In England, where dogs are mostly allowed to go off-leash, there are 7,227.

Studies conducted in Boulder, Colorado have shown that dogs are, in fact, not a nuisance in public parks or other wildlife areas. Behavioral data showed that off-leash dogs generally did not travel far off trail, that when they did it was for short periods of time, and that they rarely were observed to chase other dogs, disturb people, chase wildlife, destroy vegetation, or enter bodies of water.

Furthermore, results from this analyses of the questionnaire (skewed toward non-dog owners) showed that dog owners and non-dog owners agreed that people were more disruptive to the environment than dogs and that unruly people were more problematic than unruly dogs.

Dogs are not a major problem for wildlife, other dogs, people, or for destroying vegetation. In fact, many more people reported seeing other people disturb wildlife (92.2%) … significantly more often than dogs (49.7%).

As far as citizens who claim to have PTSD because they have been attacked by a 'bad dog', it is best to address the individual and rehabilitate these phobias with proper PTSD therapy with a licensed mental health practitioner than continue to carry this unprocessed and biased fear onto hiking trails where they will inevitably encounter dogs. There are nearly 70 million dogs in the United States, so the reality is they will encounter them regularly. Dogs are more aggressive on a leash than not, due to the fact that they feel restrained, frustrated and uncomfortable.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of research conducted on this topic. Simply ticketing people with off-leash dogs is not a viable solution, it's a mere band-aid to an ongoing challenge.

The first step to the solution is education.

SOURCES:

15 Dog Breeds that need the most exercise
https://stories.barkpost.com/exercise-breeds/

Exercise for Dogs
https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/exercise-dogs#1

Dog Bite Statistics
https://www.caninejournal.com/dog-bite-statistics/

Interactions Among Dogs, People, and the Environment in Boulder, Colorado: A Case Study
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/089279397787001346?src=recsys

Behavioral Interactions and Conflict Among Domestic Dogs, Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs, and People in Boulder, Colorado
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/089279399787000318

How to Deal with Chronic Fear and Anxiety
https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/security/facing-fear/how-deal-chronic-fear-and-anxiety

U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics
https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-pet-ownership.aspx

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: Are Off-Leash Experiences Good For You and Your Dog?https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/dog-spies/are-off-leash-experiences-good-for-you-and-your-dog/

LEASH AGRESSION
https://positively.com/dog-behavior/aggression/leash-aggression/

WHY DOGS BELONG OFF-LEASH iN THE OUTDOORS
https://www.outsideonline.com/2082546/why-dogs-belong-leash-outdoors

 Why Dogs Belong Off-Lease: it's a Win-Win for All
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201605/why-dogs-belong-leash-its-win-win-all

Dog Lovers Win the Battle Against The Park Service
http://goodtimes.sc/santa-cruz-news/dog-lovers-win-battle-park-service/

 



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