If Our Pets Could Talk

If Our Pets Could Talk

By Jackie Kellum

pet dog


Do dogs really have to ‘run free’ in order to get the benefit of exercise? While researching this topic, many resources written by reputable dog organizations and professional dog trainers address this subject. Almost unanimously they state it is ‘nice’ for a dog to run free, but not an exercise requirement to keep a dog healthy. Most authors said that this option is more readily available if the owner and dog live in a rural setting. Those living in a city type setting are limited to access to this particular environment.

Some cities have parks or open areas that can be utilized for pets and their owners. The malecons in Ajijic, San Juan Cosala and Jocotopec and Cristina Park in Chapala are examples; however, there are laws governing this activity. Jalisco State does have a law regarding pets and leashes. This law is: Article 23: “It is forbidden to travel in public places with pets that are not all controlled by a leash and other means guarantee the safety of passers-by and their goods.” Whether this law is being enforced by local government remains to be seen. Regardless of its enforcement, consideration for others is common respect.                                                                                                                                

Dogs do need a physical outlet to expend extra energy and maintain health and fitness. Suggestions are made as to how to increase the level of exercise for a person’s dogs included making a ‘play-date’ with a friend who has dogs, and playing fetch or other games with your dog.

The objective of taking a dog out of the house for exercise is to reinforce the training for the dog, that the owner is the leader and in-charge. The main focus about a dog running free has to include two essential components. The owner has to be responsible for keeping his dog in sight and under his control at all times. Keeping the dog under control means that the dog immediately obeys a command to stop, come, sit or stay, when said by the owner. If these two elements are not met when the dog is off leash, then the dog is “out of control” and a potential hazard to others and itself.

One lengthy article listed 15 specific consequences of a dog off leash that is “out of control.” I have organized these 15 potential hazards into 4 broad groupings. (1) Your dog can be grabbed and stolen, is tempted to chase something and can get injured or get separated or lost. (2) Your dog might get into a fight with another dog. Just because your dog is friendly, doesn’t mean the other dog is also. (3) Your dog may eat a harmful plant, a foreign object, or infected dog feces from another dog, etc. Yes, as disgusting as it sounds some dogs like to eat dog poop which may contain Coccidia which is contagious to other dogs. For those of us who have lived here for a while, some may remember the terrible deaths that occurred when poison was set out in public places. Your dog can eat something before you even get close enough to realize he was eating something and not just sniffing, and (4) Everyone is not a dog-lover, or feels happy when a pack of unknown dogs are charging towards them. Your dog’s uncontrolled behavior can cause possible injury to a child or an adult, especially a person who is disabled or elderly. Your dog has the possibility of biting, especially if the dog becomes frightened or feels threatened. Not picking up your dog’s poop on a walk shows disrespect to other people who share the environment with you.

Bottom Line: Enjoy your dog, get some exercise together, but do not let its behavior cause problems to others or itself.


Ojo Del Lago
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