Since that article ran in June, three dogs who have graduated from my Growly Dog class have been attacked by off-leash dogs. My clients work hard to calm their dog’s anxiety when they see other dogs (which often stems from being attacked the very first time by a rude, off-leash dog!). We help these over-anxious dogs learn to trust their handler, and we rebuild their faith that they can walk safely in their own neighborhood. We make significant progress in keeping these dogs calm and focused on their owners instead of hyper-vigilantly scanning for dangers . . . such as an off-leash dog. In some of these cases, the unleashed dog owner was held responsible and now must pay fines in addition to medical bills; one of my clients ended up having an $8,000 hand surgery after breaking up a dog fight. I have enough stories like that to fill up a very long, pathetic book.
States that do not have statewide leash laws are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

You want to reinforce behavior you like, such as when your dog looks at but does not react to another dog a good distance away. If you have to stop an incoming assault from an off-leash dog, you can yell “SIT!” at the oncoming dog (sometimes it works) and then throw your meat treat on the ground near that dog and do a quick, calm U-turn and move away. Could the dog have some sort of meat allergy? Possibly. That’s just one more reason the dog’s owner should obey the leash laws.
The truth is: If it is the law and you allow your dog off leash, you are breaking a law. In a civilized society, members do not simply pick and choose which laws apply to them. I repeat this mantra: It does not matter that you perceive your dog to “be friendly” or that “he loves other dogs.” It does not matter because the dog you have no voice control over is hurling himself into the faces of dogs who very well may NOT be friendly to other dogs. Your dog galloping right up to a leashed dog is rude canine behavior, even if you are running behind your dog screaming: “Don’t worry! He’s friendly!!” You endanger your own dog and all those you allow him to terrorize or bother.

I recommend that you begin teaching your dog how to sit and stay prior to beginning any leash training! Having a reliable sit and stay will enable you to ask for this command if your pup starts pulling on the leash. This will help you refocus his attention and help him get back to your side! It is also safer to have a dog that has a reliable sit and stay, so that you are not pulled out into traffic while walking together! Leash training, like all dog training, requires immense amounts of patience on both your parts! But, the payoff will be a well-trained dog that all of your friends envy, and builds a relationship of love and trust! So, grab your clicker and a pocket full of treats and get out there! Have some fun together while learning valuable skills! When your dog has mastered leash walking check out loose leash training!


In Connecticut, dogs are not permitted to run at large except in the situation of hunting. Still, if the dog has vicious propensities and the owner still allows it to run at large and a person is bitten, the owner can be fined for up to $1,000 and is also liable for 6 months of prison unless the victim has abused the dog and provoked the harmful behavior.
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