Land Bank Preserves remain open despite other public land closures because we believe people need access to nature close to home, especially when nothing else in life seems normal. Early evidence suggests that dogs don’t spread COVID-19. However, current social distancing rules apply to both people and their pets. To that end, we want to remind visitors that ALL Land Bank preserves require dogs to be on leash.
Many of us love dogs and understand the desire to let them run free, but leash rules exist for good social and ecological reasons. Keeping your pup on leash protects your dog, protects wildlife, and it protects your neighbor.
- Many people simply aren’t equipped for encounters with even the friendliest of off-leash dogs. Even dogs that like other dogs seldom appreciate being rushed up to by a strange dog.
- The elderly and people with back and joint issues can face injury when pivoting quickly from a rambunctious off-leash dog.
- Those with hearing issues may not understand even positive messages being communicated by an owner.
- To many children, an encounter with a loose dog can be terrifying and have lasting effects.
- Wildlife perceive dogs as predators and this causes them to move away — temporarily or permanently – and reduces the amount of available habitat in which to feed, breed and rest.
- Repeated stress causes long-term impacts on wildlife including reduced reproduction and growth, suppressed immune system and increased vulnerability to disease and parasites.
We recognize that you and your pets may feel unusually cooped up during the COVID-19 crisis so we reached out to Suzanne Bryner, owner of Lucky Fido Dog Training, for recommendations on how to wear out your dog without breaking leash rules:
- If your dog is a leash puller, use a well fitted, front clip harness and bring along some really great treats to reward your dog for ‘checking in’. A fixed long leash is a great option for letting your dog pause and have a sniff. A few extra feet in length can give your Fido the benefit of sniffing enrichment (or sniffari) without putting other dogs or people at risk.
- Visit an off-leash dog park to let Fido run free.
- In addition to walks, food puzzle toys such as Kongs can keep dogs busy, or hide their kibble throughout the house for a ‘Find It’ game. Even strewing kibble in the grass at dinnertime is fun and exhausting for dogs!
- Train Fido a simple trick such as SPIN. It’s a great way to bond with your dog and tire them out at the same time. (click here for a quick tutorial from Lucky Fido on teaching your dog to spin!)
While our stewards do their best to ensure that trail users have a positive experience, now more than ever, our community must do their part to protect the safety and wellbeing of others. And “others” includes that ground-nesting pair of juncos. We want our preserves to remain vital refuges for undomesticated fauna too. As you continue to enjoy your Land Bank Preserves, please leash your dogs at all times. Be cautious, courteous and kind to all others.