1. While your dog may be friendly with other dogs, children, or even cats, that doesn’t mean that all of the dogs, children, and cats that they encounter in the world will be friendly with them! Many dogs don’t get along well with other dogs, particularly if it’s one that they’ve never encountered before. Keeping your dog leashed helps decrease the likelihood of them getting into the personal space of an unfriendly dog, as well as your chances of having to pay the bill for any injuries that may occur in a fight.
2. Even if your dog is friendly and simply wants to make a new friend, children and the elderly can be easily knocked down and seriously injured if your dog approaches too quickly or jumps up on them to greet them. Having your dog on a leash can help prevent your dog from unintentionally hurting someone.
3. A passing jogger, biker, or darting animal (like a neighborhood cat, a gopher, or even a bird) can trigger your dog’s instinctual urge to chase prey. Not only might your dog injure whatever they’re chasing, but they can also be injured or killed if they dart into the street while in pursuit. By keeping your dog on a leash, you can help keep them from endangering themselves when they see something irresistible across the street.
4. Though it may be difficult for a dog-loving owner to understand, some people are afraid of dogs. For someone who has been bitten by a dog or isn’t usually around them, having an unfamiliar dog run up to them can be a frightening experience. People with a fear of dogs sometimes carry means of defending themselves against dogs that they feel threatened by. Some of these means, including pepper spray and sonic repelling devices, can be unpleasant and upsetting for your dog.
5. Many dogs will eat just about anything. While it may seem funny at times, a dog’s indiscriminate taste for anything on the ground actually can be extremely dangerous. Poisonous plants, leftover food, roadkill, trash, and toxic chemicals are present in many alleyways and yards around town, as well as along hiking trails and recreation areas in the valley. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to know what your dog may be snacking on if they are allowed to roam free. If they are on a leash by your side, you can help make sure they don’t ingest anything harmful. If they do eat something potentially hazardous, keeping them on a leash will give you a better chance of seeing what they ate—knowledge which, when relayed to your veterinarian, can be lifesaving!