Re: “Portland considers tight leash for dogs in Baxter Woods” (April 1, Page B1):

I walk my dog off leash in Baxter Woods and other off-leash areas. I’m frustrated by off-leash dogs – not because of the dogs, but because of their owners.

This Baxter Woods photo is an example of one issue in off-leash areas, a reader says: owners socializing rather than focusing on their dogs.  Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Your photo on Page B4 Monday demonstrates one issue: owners socializing versus walking with and paying attention to their dogs. If not properly supervised, dogs will do things that are potential issues – jump on people – or possibly fight. Signs in off-leash areas state that dogs must be leashed or under voice control.  That means a dog will respond to voice commands while off leash. Many people allow dogs off leash when they’re not trained to behave on leash, much less off.

Another issue I see is people bringing multiple dogs to off-leash areas. Very few dog owners can keep tabs on multiple dogs at once. At Fort Williams I saw a woman pull up and open the car door, and three dogs went bounding out the door across the parking area, running out of sight.

My suggestions to improve off-leash areas:

• Do not let your dog off leash until they are trained to basic commands – sit, stay and full recall (they come when you call).

• Do not socialize with other dog owners. Walk with your dog; practice a training activity or two on the outings.

• If you have multiple dogs, find off-leash areas large enough to accommodate your pack.  Small areas – Baxter Woods, beaches at high tide – are not large enough for a pack that likes to run.

• Dogs need daily exercise – spending time in off-leash areas only on weekends is not enough.

• Owners need to know their dogs. Be aware of your dog’s anxiety and what might set them off.  You cannot do this if you’re socializing.

If you want to socialize, leave the dog at home.

Kathleen Jarvis

Cape Elizabeth