A well-trained dog is a beautiful sight in the great outdoors. Watching a canine fetch, return and obediently walk leash-free alongside their owners is a vision of loyalty and dedication. Sadly, most of us have dogs who cannot be trusted to do the same. When on-leash dogs in RV parks meet off-leash ones in the confines of campgrounds, trouble inevitably follows. If you’re one of the lucky ones with an obedient off-leash dog, we hope you’ll consider these three reasons to leash up the next time you go RVing.
Off-leash Dogs in RV Parks are a Liability
The dictionary defines a leash law as “an ordinance requiring dogs to be restrained when not confined to their owner’s property.” The only exceptions to leash laws are certified service, working and hunting dogs.
Step out of your RV with an off-leash canine and you’ll walk right into a lawsuit if your dog bites a human or pet. Leash laws vary from place to place but according to the Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University College of Law, even in municipalities without strict leash laws a pet parent “may be found negligent in a civil suit where the dog being off-leash caused harm to another.”
Could your pretty pooch cause one of the 4.5 million dog bites in America each year? Why risk finding out?
Off-leash Dogs Make Others Feel Threatened
Off-leash dogs in RV parks pose a serious threat to people and other dogs in public spaces, especially in campgrounds. Without the well-defined confines of a fenced yard, it’s easy for all dogs to get confused about boundary lines their instincts want them to protect. Some dogs may feel that the entire campground needs monitoring. In the eyes of a leashed canine, off-leash dogs appear to be moving threats that must be controlled. But since leashed dogs cannot control the situation, the result is “Fear Aggression” and results in barking, lunging and inevitable clashes.
“Fearful dogs may try to avoid the stimulus but become aggressive if they cannot escape (eg, leashed, confined, cornered, or physically grasped), are motivated to maintain their place (eg, on property, between the owner and stimulus, near food or toy), or if they learn that aggression is successful at removing the threat.” (Merck Veterinary Manual)
Off-leash Dogs are Not Fail-Safe
You’ve spent countless hours training your dog to obediently follow off-leash everywhere you go. Bravo! It’s too bad more pet parents aren’t like you.
As much as you want to believe your dog is always under voice control, the reality is that trained or not, all dogs have the heart and soul of an animal. Off-leash dogs in RV parks are set up for failure because they’re placed in front of fun temptations like squirrels, wild rabbits and little two-legged creatures. Whether Weimeriner or wiener dog, canines are opportunist, prey-driven creatures with selective hearing who will attack wildlife if circumstances are just right. Aside from stepping into the legal liability of a dog bite incident, off-leash dogs in RV parks are also at risk of contracting a wildlife disease like rabies or parasites.
You’ve gone through all the trouble of loading up your RV for a great vacation. Once you get there, allowing your dog to be off-leash even within the confines of your campsite leaves the door wide open for conflict with humans, dogs or an accident with a moving vehicle.
Sure, you have plenty of reason to be proud of your well-behaved dog, but for the sake of everyone’s safety and enjoyment, please leash up (preferably with a non-retractable lead) whenever you go RVing.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.