In the time of COVID, any outing from the confines of our houses is cherished. People seem to be taking advantage of our leashless parks more than ever, and in the majority of cases, they are doing so responsibly.

Unfortunately, there are always the exceptions to the rule, and there are some that either forget the rules, or decide they are above the rules. I know our readers are the responsible ones, and do their best to enjoy the parks safely. If you happen to see someone breaking the rules, however, please remind people of the rules if you can safely do so.

Everyone thinks their dog is friendly. Most of the time, its true, dogs have great personalities, and everyone loves to pet a dog. In some situations, though, dogs are not friendly. Whether they are defending their owner, or are attempting to establish alpha position, in the wrong circumstance a dog can be very dangerous to other dogs or people.

While you may be at a “leashless” park, you still need to monitor and maintain control of your pet.

be present and have the dog within view at all times;

ensure that the dog is not in heat and that it does not act in a dangerous or aggressive manner towards humans or other dogs;

remove the dog from the off-leash area immediately if the dog is in heat or acts in a dangerous or aggressive manner towards humans or other dogs;

ensure that the dog comes when called;

have a leash available to restrain the dog if needed;

remedy any harm caused by the dog, including filling in holes dug by the dog; and

immediately remove and properly dispose of any excrement left by the dog.

Following the rules makes the leashless park experience safer and more enjoyable for everyone. Breaking the rules can in some instances lead to fines, which can be considerable.

Another concern has been recently noted, the potential of harm through the acceptance of treats from another park user. Even if you know the person, you don’t know what is in the treat.

Offering a treat to another dog must only be done with the owner’s permission. It could contain something the pet has an issue with, either allergy or sensitivity. Accepting a treat from a stranger is not something you’d let your children do, neither should you let your dog. There are bad people out there, and who knows what could be in the treat, beyond things that trigger allergies. There could be poisons or drugs that may sicken or kill your pet. If someone wants to give your dog a treat, offer them one you know is safe, and if you want to interact that way with another dog, maybe ask if the dog’s owner has a treat that you can give to their dog.

Our world is getting filled with more and more rules, and it gets frustrating to deal with all of them. In this case, these parks are provided for everyone’s enjoyment, and that can only happen safely if everyone follows the rules.

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