Off Leash Dogs

WARNING – The author is climbing onto the soapbox.

Yesterday, we tried the Laurel River Trail recommended in the book Best Hikes with Dogs: North Carolina by Karen Chavez.  So far, I have found the trails recommended by the book to be good, but was very disappointed yesterday.  Not by the trail since it was actually very pretty as it followed the river:

Laurel River

Rather, the trail was spoiled by all of the off-leash and out of control dogs we met.

Understand, I do believe that a dog can be off-leash and under control.  In fact, we met one of those yesterday on the trail.  A beautiful Golden Retriever was playing in the river when his owner saw us coming up the trail.  She called his name – once – and the dog immediately jumped in the river and swam over to his owner, sat beside her, and waited until she verbally released him after we were well down the trail.  That is a dog that has earned the right to be off-leash through diligent training by its owner.

For all of the other off-leash dogs we met on the trail, your owners have failed you.  Running into the trail, blocking our path and charging us (a pit bull and a border collie at one point and a chihuahua at another) is totally unacceptable.  And, dear owners, if you call your dogs name 20-30 times while he is blocking my path, you do NOT have control.  I know, for example, that the pit bull’s name is Tanner because his owner repeatedly called him by his name while the dog totally ignored the owner.

By the way, if you think I am saying my dogs are better – they are not.  I know perfectly well that they would not reliably respond to verbal commands with distractions like other dogs.  That is precisely why they are never off leash on a trail.

Unfortunately, these were not the exception, but rather the rule on this trail.  For the very few dogs I met on leash (including two beautiful and well behaved German Shepherds), I was concerned that one of them might get into trouble simply defending themselves against the out of control dogs.

So, unfortunately, we have a trail that we will not be using again.

Climbing off of soap box.


  1. Wild Dingo on July 7, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Oh man… make room on THAT soap box for ME. it makes me soooo infuriated. Having a formerly “naughty” dog like Loki (my GSD/formosan mix), and having to socialize him in town, with people who have dogs off lease/not under control= mayem for me when training Loki in the begining (2008). NOW, i can actually have him on leash with an off leash dog that is a bonehead charging us and i can make him ignore the other dog while he’s on leash with me. I’ve heard some owners yell at ME last year because my leashed dog was acting aggressive. which was true, but in defense, i and he were “in training” back then. At least he was leashed and in my control. How unfair is it that an uncontrolled dog (however friendly they seem) can run up to any person or even dog on leash? what if its just a person who hates dogs? hello? Forget about a leashed dog. There are people in the world who do not to meet my dogs or your herd (I know i can’t believe they exist but they do)… so complete control either through voice or leash is the only way. I probably could now have Loki (my GSD/formosan mix) off leash on “off-leash trails” because he is friendly and has a magnetic recall but typically do not simply for safety. and his hind brain still overtakes his forebrain while in prey drive so until i can call him out of chasing prey or play 100%, he is not off leash. we’re working it though and someday, he’ll earn complete off-leash status.

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