Sunday, June 07, 2009

Three Dog Rule At Off Leash Parks?

Six months after the city passed a law limiting each person to three dogs at its nine off-leash dog parks, scores of dog walkers far exceed their legal mutt max.

How many dogs should you be allowed to take to an off leash park at any one time? I think this is an interesting question. I think this is a question that must balance freedom, reasonableness and legal liability. The freedom argument would say that you'd be able to do whatever you wanted to, wherever you wanted to. For the most part, I'm a live and let live kind of guy: be responsible and take care of your own business so it doesn't affect others, and leave me alone so I can do my life. Then again, I'm an experience dog trainer and behaviorist. I have worked as head trainer at a doggie daycare, and at a certain point, you get to the point where you need a reasonable dog handler-to-dogs ratio in order to ensure the safety of the dogs. In daycare for kids, you need a certain number of supervising adults per child. There isn't any similar kind of regulation for doggie daycares or kennels, but common sense tells you that at some point, one individual can't supervise an unlimited amount of dogs. I have seen a number of homes with 5 or more dogs, and the management of the dogs gets pretty difficult at that point. I can't imagine taking 32 dogs, from different homes, to an off leash park. Lastly, there is the issue of liability. The more dogs you have to supervise, the more potential that something could go wrong in an unregulated environment. I think that the 3 dog per handler rule is a good balance. I am of the opinion that these dog walkers are using the off leash parks as a kind of doggie daycare, where they get use of the premises for free, and are transfering most of the cost and risk to the public. It is therefore unreasonable and isn't what these parks were created for.

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