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dog on leash

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The warm weather is here, which means more people will be out walking, many with their furry best friends.

It’s important to remember to keep your dog on a leash, whether when walking down the street, in a park or along the beach. Some may think that their dog is friendly and wouldn’t hurt a fly — and they may be right — but that doesn’t mean that other dogs share the same demeanor.

It’s important to note that dogs are territorial. In the April 28 Ask the Vet column by Dr. Matthew Kearns, the veterinarian explained that the animals are hardwired to protect their territory. If they feel threatened, they will feel the need to defend themselves. Certain movements may also trigger them.

Dogs can hurt other animals and humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 4.5 million dog bites to people every year in the U.S. Dog bites can lead to a need for medical care and even fatalities.

It’s also possible for a dog off-leash to chase after smaller critters. The chase could lead to danger to wildlife and animals running out into busy streets. It’s also healthier for dogs to be walked with a leash as it lessens the chances of them engaging with other dogs, which can increase the spread of diseases such as distemper, and they are less likely to sniff droppings from other animals.

Plus, if your dog does get away from you, the leash signals that it belongs to someone, and the person who finds the pet knows to first look for a collar and ID.

Walking your dog on a leash also shows courtesy to your neighbors as pet owners have more control over where their dog goes when they have a hold on them. The lawn down the road is not your dog’s bathroom.

Speaking of dogs and bathrooms, remember to bring a bag with you while walking your dog to clean up any mess they may make.

With just a little care, dogs, humans and other animals can enjoy the great outdoors together and lessen the dangers that can occur.