Exercise is vital to our health and well-being. The same is true of our dogs. In this area, we are fortunate to have an abundance of natural regions that allow us to enjoy the landscape with our canine counterparts. We should all feel welcome to enjoy these areas, shouldn’t we?

My four-legged companion is a hound dog. Because of his breed, I cannot trust that my voice commands will infiltrate his instinctive fondness for scents. My dog is also a bit reactive. This means that when off-leash dogs rapidly approach him, he could become defensive. No matter how “friendly” your off-leash dog is, my dog could view him or her as a threat and could potentially become aggressive. As a responsible pet owner, I can appreciate these traits in my dog. In order to keep him and others safe, I keep him leashed while walking him.

If you choose to exercise your dog off-leash, you are absolutely obligated to have voice control over him or her. Your dog should never approach another person or dog unless you have received the okay. Furthermore, a sensible dog owner should always carry a leash for those situations in which you need to tether your dog as protection from potential hazards.

We should feel comfortable and secure enjoying the great outdoors – unleashed dogs and leashed dogs alike. Be respectful of others and be accountable. Curb your dog. All of us have a right to enjoy these areas safely and favorably.

Nicole McGovern