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In light of the current topic about dealing with uncontrolled off leash dogs, I have a related question. I would love to be able to let my dog, Ivy, off leash more often, but have limited options as I live in a fairly urban environment. Although there are off leash dog parks which we go to, we all know that those have their own set of issues and if I had another option I would prefer to avoid them. There are lots of hiking trails and parks within a fairly short drive, but the vast majority of these are open to on leash dogs only. Ivy has generally good manners and a reliable recall, but I want to respect leash laws and the other users of the parks/trails so I don't let her off leash in these areas.

 

So my question is - Where do you all let your dogs off leash? I realize that this is probably a very regional question, but I'm interested in hearing about what other people do. Are dog parks and/or private property (if you're so lucky as to have it) the only options? What are the leash laws in your area? (although as evidenced by the uncontrolled off leash thread, regardless of the laws, many people don't follow them). As a point of reference, I live in Seattle.

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This is an odd one but if you can find older railway and canal paths you can sometimes let them off there. You can get stretches of fenced-in paths beside these things that are now quiet since canal trasportation is not as popular. You can find kinda 'odd' spaces- stretches of paths behind houses, things like that, that are public but unfrequented.

 

Of course this may be entirely not relevant in your area. Just something to look out for, and you did say you were interested in what other people do! I find the canal paths much better than parks or open fields for keeping an unfocused dog with you, or starting off training the recall. You're on a straight line- the dog can either go into the canal, ahead of you, or get left behind.

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i indulge in semi criminal behavior. we go to a local state park to run off leash. the rules state that all dogs must be on a 6 ft hand held leash. we go at dawn, before anyone else really uses the park. we have our fun, behave ourselves, take care of the park and leash up the dogs if we run into others. over the years we have met other like minded people who have joined our walks. we have also met other regulars who enjoy the early hours of the park. all our dogs being people friendly, we have gotten used to each other and even watch out for each other. as it is a state park, we have also had the opportunity to met the morning park rangers. the park is on a pay honor system, and they come to check the money box, then leave. as regulars, we try to be stewards of the park and the rangers seem to appreciate this and let our transgressions go unnoticed.

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I don't go to parks and let my boy off leash. For our dog parks, I get up early and get there before anyone else. There are a couple dogs and owners that I know well, their dogs pay attention to sniffing around, maybe digging a bit, and basically ignore Gibbs chasing the ball. If anyone shows up that I don't know very well, I ask the owner before they come in the fenced-in dog park if their dog is friendly, and I observe said dog closely. Most of the time, I take Gibbs and leave.

 

It's a bit of a bother in winter, because it's zero-dark thirty when I get there, but we make it work.

 

I'm fortunate to live within walking distance of some very rarely used paths that are well away from roads. If I see anyone coming, I leash him. Every now and then I see someone else with a dog, we both leash them. Gibbs is pretty good with other dogs, if someone tells me their dog doesn't like other dogs, I believe them and keep moving.

 

Like Ruftie, I try to be a steward of the land and leave it cleaner than I found it.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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I have spent my dog owning life been a law breaker, our dogs would never have got off leash if we had been law abiding. Our personal rules where dogs stayed in sight, and on the sighting of anyone dog, person, horse, dogs have to come back and wait beside us or get leashed. In the States we lived in relatively urban area and within a 20 minute drive we had lots of options to discreetly break leash laws, under used State and town parks mostly, and use common sense one of our favorite places we never went to in summer as it was full of tourists, in winter you might run into a fellow dog walker. The only time we have been fully law abiding was in England where there are very few leash laws. And I personally hate dog parks, we have one near us now and it is actually a great place to take foster dogs as no one uses it!

 

FYI my dogs are always on leash on public roads etc for their safety and out of politeness to everyone else.

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I have spent my dog owning life been a law breaker, our dogs would never have got off leash if we had been law abiding. Our personal rules where dogs stayed in sight, and on the sighting of anyone dog, person, horse, dogs have to come back and wait beside us or get leashed. In the States we lived in relatively urban area and within a 20 minute drive we had lots of options to discreetly break leash laws, under used State and town parks mostly, and use common sense one of our favorite places we never went to in summer as it was full of tourists, in winter you might run into a fellow dog walker. The only time we have been fully law abiding was in England where there are very few leash laws. And I personally hate dog parks, we have one near us now and it is actually a great place to take foster dogs as no one uses it!

 

FYI my dogs are always on leash on public roads etc for their safety and out of politeness to everyone else.

 

Pretty much ditto.

 

We often go out when its raining because the parks empty out.

 

Off leash manners are something we work at and even when we are alone dogs who I don't feel are 100% trustworthy wear a harness and drag line.

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Tess is always off leash if there isn't the danger of cars. She ignores people (the only attention she gives to people is to sometimes invite a stranger to toss her the frisbee, and that seems to be cute enough that everybody, so far, liked it). If another animal shows up, she is called and leashed. She tends to ignore other animals too, but she will react if a too boisterous dog invades her space, so the leash is, in a way, to protect the other dog from her possible bitchyness. With dogs she likes, and if the other owner agrees, we let them off leash to play.

 

We live in a peninsula, and we have several miles of lovely beach to walk on. In the summer we go very early so she can run, play and swim, and when people start to show up she's leashed and we go home. But in winter we have the beach almost to ourselves all day.

 

We also go to the pinewoods nearby, plenty of trails and we almost never meet anybody. And there's a nearby dam with a walking path around it, she has a good recall so when someone aproaches I call her and tell her to walk at heel, if people have dogs I leash her. Thing is she never just goes off to people or animals and comes when called, so I'm just carefull I don't create situations where she could potentially bother others.

 

We also play frisbee in local parks. In these, she's not off leash just to roam around, only to play frisbee, because she doesn't stop a game to go investigate other stuff. She's never shown much interest in other people, and she couldn't care less about passing dogs when we're playing. I still leash her though if another dog comes too close.

 

She has lots of off leash time. This is because, first, she has proven I can trust her, second, we have access to several places that are safe, and third, she was thaught from early on that we don't bother others.

 

In town or places with lots of people she's always leashed.

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I live near forests where the rules are, "dogs must be on leash or under control", which sounds perfect if obeyed.

They've added a definition of "under-control" to be "leashed in the presence of other forest users" because most dog owners don't bother with the under control part.

In leash only forests, people still let dogs off-lead but are more polite about it, and will attempt to leash up a dog when they see a leashed dog.

While Sonic is still on-leash only, I hope to get him off-lead in these places, but take the "under control" seriously.

Try not to let your dog bother other users, make your best judgements with the comfort of others in mind and have fun with your dog.

Or--what Tess said.

Editing to add--what everyone else said to--as in, obey the spirit of the law, not the letter.

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We have about 200+ acres out the back door. Most is our neighbors who does not mind us there. We walk the fields to the woods on his side and down to the creek. It is rare we ever see anyone there. I once saw another neighbor from up the street with her dog and her cat! All taking a nice walk in the woods together.

 

We also have some county land nearby that is not used often especially mornings during the week. It is just land the county owns with trails-no amenities or services so a lot of people don't even know they exist. When we lived closer to the lake we used to go down to the beach (we live near Lake Erie) during non summer times. Every so often we would run into other like minded folks letting their nice dogs run off leash and the police would usually just wave despite a leash law sign there.

 

We follow the same rules as others and leash the dogs when we see someone coming or put them in a sit/stay next to us. With the puppy now, we typically stay away from places at times we know we might run into someone as she is still learning to not get so excited to see people.

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I wish you all lived near us. Yesterday when I asked someone to leash their dog in the leash-required park, she responded "No, I don't even have a leash with me, so I can't leash him." When I asked if she could grab the dog, she snarkily responded "Yeah, sure, once he comes back to me I'll grab him." Did not grab his collar. Did not intervene when dog stared Gabe down.

 

I can't go into the woods anymore without feeling incredibly nervous about it, and dreading any encounter with another human or dog, so unfortunately we don't get to enjoy the best part of our neighborhood anymore.

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Dear Doggers,

 

The OP lives in Seattle. When I visit my sister in NW Seattle I walk my dog(s) on the roadsides offleash just at dawn and again before five. I keep nearer than they or I like because as soon as I hear/see a car I recall them to downstay at my feet. In the mornings I carry a flashlight to identify us to drivers. My sister's neighborhood hasn't many through roads and traffic is fairly sparse. On a typical 20 minute walk I might only recall five or six times and I've only had one close call when an ealry morning bicyclist appeared I hadn't heard. It requires an instant bulletproof recall and constant alertness but I've done this in other cities without incident.

 

Donald McCaig

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Chrisandgabe- what a bitch! That's just rude and unreasonable.

 

I spent three hours at the local park today. You have this odd situation where it's perfectly legal for you to have your dogs off-lead on the busy streets to get to the dog park (because it's legal in public places to have most breeds* of dog off-leash if they are under control) and then you must leash them within the park because those are the rules of the park.

 

Lots of dogs, many of them off-leash. I only saw one ill-behaved off-leash dog and most of the on-leash ones were impeccably mannered. And even then the ill-behaved dog was a 'my dog is friendly', was genuinely friendly if rude and clueless, and was getting away with it because the other dogs it met were polite.

 

I love that park.

 

*Not greyhounds, pit bulls, german shepherds etc.

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No help as I'm in the UK but I live next to a canal and can walk for many miles along the towpath. We mainly go on the salt marshes ten minutes away though but between lambing and market time there are often sheep grazing so we go in the evening when they have been

taken off. Forestry Commission plantations are generally open to off lead dogs and we also have National Trust and private woods with public paths within easy reach. As long as dogs are on lead amongst livestock there are few problems. Even then, if you are out walking the moors and fells with dogs under control you'd be unlucky to find anyone to object. Most people I meet are responsible but the I tend to meet people like me who don't mind getting wet and muddy.

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No help as I'm in the UK but I live next to a canal and can walk for many miles along the towpath. We mainly go on the salt marshes ten minutes away though but between lambing and market time there are often sheep grazing so we go in the evening when they have been

taken off. Forestry Commission plantations are generally open to off lead dogs and we also have National Trust and private woods with public paths within easy reach. As long as dogs are on lead amongst livestock there are few problems. Even then, if you are out walking the moors and fells with dogs under control you'd be unlucky to find anyone to object. Most people I meet are responsible but the I tend to meet people like me who don't mind getting wet and muddy.

Should have added that we get to know where to avoid because the farmer is trigger happy and doesn't need an excuse.
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I've been taking Kieran to off leash dog beaches. Surprisingly, there aren't tons and tons of dogs at the one we usually go to (there is another one that's always congested). However, every dog there seems to like humping Kieran...and some owners are too busy chatting with their friends to take any responsibility for them. I would think Seattle would have dog beaches nearby for some reason.

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I have spent my dog owning life been a law breaker, our dogs would never have got off leash if we had been law abiding. Our personal rules where dogs stayed in sight, and on the sighting of anyone dog, person, horse, dogs have to come back and wait beside us or get leashed. In the States we lived in relatively urban area and within a 20 minute drive we had lots of options to discreetly break leash laws, under used State and town parks mostly, and use common sense one of our favorite places we never went to in summer as it was full of tourists, in winter you might run into a fellow dog walker. The only time we have been fully law abiding was in England where there are very few leash laws. And I personally hate dog parks, we have one near us now and it is actually a great place to take foster dogs as no one uses it!

 

FYI my dogs are always on leash on public roads etc for their safety and out of politeness to everyone else.

Hello. Pretty good advise and nice information. Thanks! :)

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I've spent time in some very urban areas. To be honest, after so many horrible experiences off leash, I avoid any off leash dog areas. If i was in your situation I would not focus so much on being off leash as how to keep her body and mind stimulated. Biking with your dog is excellent exercise as long as her body is mature enough to handle it. Great exercise for you too!

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I take Juno to the trails behind our house with a long line from the dollar shop attached. Over time I have reduced the long line to about 10 feet with the end cut off so it can't catch on anything. Juno's recall is good unless there is a major distraction. On the rare times when she doesn't come, she still stops and waits so I have time to grab her long line. Right now I am working fairly diligently at the remote drop command. When she gets this 100% we will be going to completely off leash. I should add that on days when the trails are busy I just keep her on the leash. My wife is afraid of many dogs because of past experiences so I understand the importance of having a dog under control.

Bill

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Dear Doggers,

I used to walk all my dogs (3-7) off leash on the farm or several favorite walks in the National Forest (the Discovery Channel sent me footage my six of them [piling into the Subaru wagon for a swim) but as I slipped into geezerdom the walks shrank until Anne had the bright idea: How about an ATV? Every Sunday I used to take an especially long walk down to the river, along the river and then home. This Sunday I cranked up the ATV and set out with the three dogs (2 10yo, 1 4yo) They and I had a wonderful time and all came back grinning. I've got a trailer for the ATV so I can take it to trials & clinics. Geezerdom is (somewhat) reversible.

 

Donald McCaig

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I have to say I could not imagine not taking my dogs for off leash walks, one of my husband and I's great joys is watching our dogs be dogs, explore, sniff, run, play, just enjoy life at their own pace. We have had dogs for 20+ years and always lived in a town, but we have never had a serious problem.

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http://www.traillink.com/trail/john-wayne-pioneer-trail.aspx

 

Here's a great trail not far from Seattle... Not sure, but I think I might ;) have broken the rules a few times in remote, quiet parts of this wonderful rail-to-trail... I've also sometimes had luck on school fields during off-hours...

 

I'm very fortunate to live in a county with lots of off-leash open space trails (in addition to designated dog parks). Owners are required to have dogs under "voice and sight" control, which has been evolving over the years and now has fairly strict criteria. Dogs are required to display a fee-based permit tag, and owners must attend a training and watch a video. Rangers give tickets, but enforcement seems sporadic. The good part about the video training tho, is it gets folks more or less on the same page about what is acceptable behavior (not rushing up to greet without asking first; not chasing wildlife, not letting dogs go out of your sight; having immediate reliable recall, when in doubt leash-up, no aggressive behavior, pick up poop, etc )... a pretty high bar for many pets sharing open space with horses, bikers, toddlers, skiers, coyotes, cows, deer and prairie dogs.

 

The other thing about the enclosed dog-park scene, is that I've always seen more conflicts in the ones where people are just standing or sitting around. The ones that have a path or a loop in which people walk and move along, are IMHO a better design.

 

Good luck! :-)

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