If You Let Your Dog Off-Leash, You Are An Asshole


Dogs are awesome, aren’t they? Big balls of loyalty and love. If you have a dog, I will always accept an invite to your house – you don’t even have to be home. Dogs are just the most perfect beings on the planet. But here’s the thing – if you let your dog off the leash in public, you are an asshole.


I’m not talking in designated areas like dog parks (so shut it, all you pedants reading this.) I’m talking about playgrounds, fields, sidewalks – anywhere that is not your own fenced in property or somewhere that specifically says “Unleashed dogs allowed.”

If I love dogs so much, why do I care if they are leashed?

Well, for one, just because I like dogs, doesn’t mean I like your dog. I don’t know your dog. I don’t know if he is friendly or not (and frankly, neither do you in all situations. There have been plenty of attacks by dogs who were “perfectly friendly” until something set them off. Dogs are weird that way.)

And just because I am not scared of dogs, doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people for whom the sight of an unleashed dog would absolutely petrify them. I know one lady who jumped into the back of a stranger’s pick-up truck to avoid one.

Your dog can be a nuisance.

I was once out for a walk with my baby in his stroller, and as I was standing under a sign that said, “Dogs must be on a leash” (I shit you not) a woman walked up and let her three dogs off their leashes.

Predictably, they ran in three different directions along the narrow bike trail. Her Great Dane, who nearly looked me eye-to-eye, then walked over to my baby and attempted to take the cookie out of his hand. His owner laughed, “He loves to search strollers for cookies.”

I was less amused, wondering if this several-hundred-pound dog was about to take part of my baby with that cookie, and not thrilled to have stranger-dog drool on a hand that was entering my baby’s mouth any second now.

Another time, my kids were playing in the soccer field of a park that again specified dogs must be on a leash. My six-year-old threw a soft baseball, and as he went to retrieve it, an unleashed dog came bounding from across the field. He grabbed the ball, popping it with his mouth immediately.

Having taught my kids not to approach strange dogs, my son did not try to retrieve the ball. The dog gnawed on it a bit before his owner gathered him, shrugging his shoulders and saying, “He has one like that at home.”

Dogs can be dangerous to each other, too

Then there was the time at the same park that an unleashed dog didn’t tear apart a ball – it tore apart someone else’s dog. Before the owner of this unleashed “friendly” dog could get their large dog off the smaller one, the small dog was dead. The attack was witnessed by a nine-year-old boy who had a difficult time working through the trauma of what he had seen.

Okay, let’s assume you have read this far and decided you are fine with being an asshole because you only care about your dog and other humans can suck it.

Why should you always have your dog on a leash? Here are some reasons that most dog owners who love their dogs probably haven't thought of. #filterfreeparents #dogs

You still need to leash your dog for the sake of your precious canine.

No one who lets their dog off a leash thinks their dog is going to run off – until they do. I personally know several people, responsible people, loving people who took great care of their dogs, who learned this lesson the horrifically hard way.

Their unleashed dogs ran unexpectedly, right into traffic. I don’t know what makes dogs decide to do this, but it happens – a lot more often than you think. Other dogs simply run away and may never be found. You have seen the posters and Facebook pleas.

So just do everyone – and your dog – a favor and pay attention to the leash by-laws.

They are there for a reason. If you are a responsible dog owner, who keeps your dog leashed, I will be the first one to coo over your pet and love on them (after asking first, of course.)

If knowing everything I just outlined, you still let your dog run free, with no regard to other people or the safety of your dog – well – you’re an asshole.


  1. I am a runner. This makes me so angry. Unleashed dogs run after me and try to get at my feet. I have fallen before because a dog was running in between my feet. Please, for the safety of your fellow humans (or because we could bring a lawsuit, if that’s what motivates you), keep your dogs leashed and near you!

  2. Love this! 100% right. I love my dogs, but I don’t trust my labradoodle, he’s standoffish and maybe a little territorial, or skittish, I can’t tell, he’s my baby, but I’d never let him off leash, I hate when someone else let’s their dogs run free or come up to me with or without mine

  3. While I will say that i understand where you’re coming from, it seems like a harsh line. I regularly walk in a park that allows off-leash dogs but that does not have a designated/separate area for this. It means that I (and many others) are walking our pups off-leash with non-dog humans who are running, playing and doing all sorts of things in the park. We do so in quite amazing harmony because our doggy population (and their humans) insist on good behavior from all.

    That means things like:
    Obeying the “No dogs in the kids’ play area or within 5m (about 30 ft)” rule.
    Keeping the dogs off the tennis courts (which are not dog-proof, talk about temptation!)
    Scooping all the poops, and putting it in the trash bins.
    Teaching reliable recalls to our dogs so they don’t just run amok and accost people at random.
    Socializing our dogs to avoid dog-on-dog aggression.

    In return we ask the humans who use the park to:
    Pick up their trash and not leave stray food waste around where our dogs could eat it.
    Please not leave cigarette and other smoking waste on the ground as this is poisonous to our animals should it be injested by animals. (There is a no-smoking in city parks by-law but people seem to ignore it.)
    Please not randomly run up to and accost our dogs and teach their children the same.

    Guess which list is adhered to better? (Hint: Our dogs clearly deserve all the treats they get.)

  4. Most people cannot train their dogs well enough to be off-leash so yes, probably 90% of them are assholes for doing it, but there actually ARE owners who can responsibly let their dogs off-leash with never having an incident like any of the horrors outlined in your article. So many idiots ruin it for the good dogs & dog owners

  5. If you love your dog keep it on a leash! For the sake of your dog, keep it on a leash! You don’t know if another dog will use it as a chew toy, a car might hit it, some asshole might try hurt or steal your dog! Many things that can hurt your dog. Leash equals love.

    Your dog might be friendly, it doesn’t mean other dogs are.

  6. Truth!! I love my dog but, others may not appreciate her enthusiastic behavior. For the safety and well being of all, it’s best to keep her leashed.

  7. I know some families that should leash their kids and let their dogs run. Take the scenarios on an individual level. Not all pet owners that let their dogs off leash are assholes. Pretty harsh.

  8. I was at the park with my children and my leashed dogs. One was only young and still had problems with impulse control, the other was old and grumpy and is likely to bite anyone who tries to touch him that isn’t one of ‘his’ humans, so I kept them leashed. I was 8 months pregnant. A woman walks up to me, caring a toddler, squealing (the woman, not the toddler) about how cute my dogs are.
    My dogs, reacting to both the voice and this strange woman coming near, were barking, growling, jumping and lunging at the end of the lead. I was, predictably, having trouble controlling them at this point. And she JUST KEPT COMING.
    I was trying to catch my breath while trying to calm the dogs down. Trying to tell her to stop, but she kept talking over me. The toddler was crying, obviously terrified. And the woman JUST KEPT COMING.
    She walked right up to my jumping, lunging, baking and by this point snarling dogs, and reached down to try to get her toddler to pat them.
    Thankfully, my grumpy old dog is small, and bit the woman on the ankle, rather than the toddler who was being forced to reach for them. She acted as though she had had no warning that they may bite. As though she had had every right to act as she had and that her bite was my fault.

    Moral of the story, I can put my dogs on the leash, sure. Who is going to leash the idiot humans?

  9. Dog owners kill me with lines.. such as oh he likes kids, oh he’s harmlss, he won’t bite.. but my kids doesn’t like HIM and I WILL bite. Get your mutt.. i asked you nicely and you make reasons why you SHOULDN’T have to get your mutt… If my kid ran up to you, sniffing around, rubbing along your legs, you’d find a problem. .yourvdog doesn’t know MY KID and he doesn’t bite YOU .. you can’t say who your dog will like.. i will kick that mutt across the street.. and keep finding it amusing my kid is TERRIFIED. Find yourself in court


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