This blog post was originally published as an article in the Bella Vista Neighbors Association's Summer 2019 Newsletter.
We are dog lovers here at The Monster Minders. Personally, my life revolves around dogs. I make a living working with dogs. As a company we have completed over half a million LEASHED dog walks in the City. And we are HUGE leash advocates for dogs. Why?
Dogs + the world can be unpredictable
Let’s start with the basics. Dogs are animals and can be unpredictable AND your environment can be unpredictable. Even if your dog is a wiz at verbal commands, recalls without fail, and is and a certified therapy dog, your dog is still an animal. And while you think your dog is predictable, they can be instinctual beings and react in ways that surprise us. Pair that with the fact that urban environments, by default have a lot going on and can be unpredictable too! A car could backfire at just the wrong moment and your dog could bolt into the street. A firework could go off. An aggressive dog could be waiting around the corner. A squirrel could dart into traffic. A myriad of surprises await. Sometimes a perfect storm of stimuli can make the best dog react in unpredictable ways and bolt. There is a saying in the dog rescue world that “no dog is bomb proof.” Meaning, any dog can, and will, act out of character when faced with something scary. Life is unpredictable and leashes keep our best friends safe in those surprising moments.
It's the law
I sit on the Mayor’s Animal Advisory Committee for the City of Philadelphia, and I can tell you without a doubt: it is the law to keep your dog leashed. There’s nothing flashy about this. Leashing your dog makes you a good Philly citizen and you are breaking the law if you do not. The leash laws in Philly are rooted in safety and respect for all citizens.
Be a good neighbor
The fact is that many people live with legitimate fear of dogs from past trauma or bites. In a public space, they should not face an off-leash animal, even if it’s your totally friendly dog. Your dog’s freedom is not more important than their right to enjoy a shared, public space. (And I say that as someone who loves nothing more than watching dogs run around like lunatics.)
Additionally, professional dog walkers will tell you that one of the MOST DANGEROUS times for leashed dogs is when an off-leash dog approaches us. I don’t have the word count to go into the behavioral dynamic at play between leashed and off-leash dogs (hint: fight or flight), but trust me that you are much more likely to experience a dog fight in that moment than at any other time. Professional dog walkers know where off-leash dogs tend to be in Philadelphia and avoid these areas at all costs. We know how dangerous the interactions can be between leashed dogs and unleashed dogs. Leashing allows you to greet other dogs in an urban environment in a controlled and safe way.
Luckily for us there are great off-leash dog parks within easy walking distance for most of us in Center City Philly. These spaces are great for safe, off-leash fun and dog socialization. See some of the parks we hit up on a regular basis during our daily dog walking adventures.
Be a good neighbor, obey the law, AND protect the safety of your best friend (and other dogs) by leashing them 100% of the time in public.
These are some of our favorite dog parks in Center City Philadelphia:
Mario Lanza Dog Park: 3rd and Catharine
Washington Sq West + Bella Vista
Seger Dog Park: 11th and Rodman
Schuylkill River Park Dog Run: 25th and Spruce streets
Market Street Dog Run: 1 Delaware Avenue (along the parking lot)
Penn’s Landing (on the water!)
Dog Park at Bok (Corner of 9th Street and Dudley Street)
Columbus Square Dog Park (12th and Wharton)