The Unpopular Opinion, the Case Against Free-Range Dogs in the Valley

In her latest column, North Bend resident and pet trainer at Miss Lola’s Academy for Wayward Dogs, takes on the something touchy topic of whether or not your pooch should be allowed to roam free.


It’s not safe to let your dogs roam free. There I said it. For the most part, this is not a popular opinion out here in the valley – and I get it.

For years it was normal to see dogs free on our rural country roads. That was a time with fewer people and fewer cars on the road. Dogs lived very different lives back then. Many of them spent most their time outside, had less veterinary care and because of this had much shorter life spans.

Now we treat dogs less like animals and more like family members. We take better care of our animals and understand that while freedom may be fun for our dogs, the risks are many.

Whether you live on a quiet rural road or in one of our quieter neighborhoods where everyone lets their dogs run loose, free roaming dogs are not a good idea and here are a few reasons why

  • Not everyone likes dogs- I know right? It’s just plain odd, but so true for some people. They may be afraid, allergic, protective of their lawns or just culturally not comfortable with dogs running up to them. A fearful or angry person can act out and inadvertently hurt your dog or themselves. A leash shows that you have control over your pet. Be a good neighbor and prevent your dog from being a nuisance to those around you
  • You are legally liable for what your dog does while loose- Your dog may be the sweetest pet on the planet, but if someone alleges bad behavior, you have no way to prove them wrong if you aren’t there. If your dog bites, he could have been provoked and blameless but you would never know. Your dog could be euthanized based on the statement of a stranger.
  • Loose dogs get in fights more often- Again you may have the best dog ever but he could wander onto the property of a not so nice dog. If your dog is in another dog’s yard uninvited you would be considered legal liable for any issues.
  • Free range dogs mean indiscriminate pooping- I love dogs, all dogs, even the naughty ones. What I don’t love is unauthorized pooping in my yard. There is a fine for not scooping in most cities and counties. You could incur a fine if your dog is eliminating in someone else’s yard. Not to mention poop can carry parasites and diseases that humans can contract.
  • Confining your dog can lower your veterinary bills- Loose dogs tend to get sick or injured more often than leashed dogs. You don’t know if the neighbor down the street suddenly decided to diet and threw all their dark chocolate in the trash. Or if the guy around the corner put pesticides on his lawn. Or if that tasty raccoon poop is infected with distemper. Some people drive too fast and aren’t as aware as we’d like. A properly confined dog has less of a risk of any of those dangers.
  • Our local wildlife doesn’t want to be Fido’s friend- Pet dogs and cats cause havoc to our ecosystem. I’ve mostly talked about dogs but Fluffy isn’t off the hook either. There are estimates that domesticated cats kill up to 3.7 billion birds a year. As for Spot he does damage too. Dogs chase, kill and generally stress out wildlife when left to roam.
  • Loose dogs give ammunition to those who dislike them- We don’t want our dogs to be banned from public places, do we? Every little piece of fuel we give to the anti-dog fire is bad for us. We should be going out of way to be courteous to those who don’t like dogs. I want to be able to take my dog to the winery, hardware store or bank. Be a good dog owner in public.
  • Someone could take your dog- It could be they think your dog is a stray and take it to the shelter. That’s the best possible scenario. The worst? They could want it for nefarious intentions. It isn’t unheard of for a criminal element to take dog to use as bait in fighting operations. Protect your dog against such a terrible life by keeping him or her safe and at home.

As fun as it is for your dog to run free, be responsible to your dog and your neighbors by not allowing this to happen. Make sure he gets plenty of exercise – build a fence or a dog run and utilize our fabulous dog park. Be a responsible dog owner!

loose dog

Comments are closed.


  • In such a judgmental and public shaming area (the worst I have ever lived in by far) why on Earth would someone actually ‘Speak Your Mind’.

  • I have a genuine fear of all dogs, as I was bitten severely on the left thumb into the palm of my hand when I was 12 years old. Even though I see how wonderful dogs can be, and how meaningful dogs can be to people, I could never relate. I feel dogs should always be leashed, and only allowed to run free in secure backyards and at dog parks. Believe it our not, there are people like me, and some of those people like me, out of respect for dog lovers, bite our lip and keep our fears inside ourselves. I only rarely speak about my dog fears. Not everyone loves our even likes dogs. Thank you for understanding.

  • Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts about dogs, Michael. I, too, do not care for dogs that are left unleashed by thoughtless or well intentioned but naive owners, even if it is a friendly dog. Dog owners, please be respectful of others’ concerns about unleashed dogs and keep your dogs on a leash at ALL TIMES when you are walking them out. Thank you.

  • as a kid i loved folowing a pack of dogs in the hood, pretending I was one of them.I let my dogs run free and even though I am a ridge res. no one has given me any guff

  • Living Snoqualmie