As someone with a (recovering) reactive dog, I hate off-leash dogs. Like many dogs, Maisy does not want other dogs to rush up to her and get in her face. We've also had some bad experiences with both not-so-friendly and way-too-friendly off-leash dogs. In either case, the result has been the same: behavioral set backs. This is why I love leash laws so much. While they aren't perfect, they do help reduce the number of unfortunate incidents we have.
At the same time, though, I kind of hate leash laws. I strongly believe that dogs need opportunities to run free. Whether they spend the time leisurely following scent trails or zooming around as fast as they can, off-leash time enriches dogs' lives. And leash laws limit that.
It's especially hard when you live in a large city, as I do. We would have to drive a significant distance to reach a rural area where it would be legal to allow her off leash. While there are many dog parks nearby, they aren't an option for us; like I said, Maisy doesn't like having strange dogs in her face. What's more, while I'd usually encourage the use of Flexis or long-lines, Maisy is a pretty, pretty princess who can neither walk on a Flexi nor tolerate dragging a line behind her. Issues, she has them.
So what's a girl to do?
Be a hypocrite, I guess. The truth is, I let my dog off leash, and I don't always do it legally. I have a few places I do this regularly. One of them is private property, and since I don't have permission, I suppose technically I'm trespassing. I don't worry about it too much; the property in question is one of the colleges I attended, and I figure that since I'm still paying for my time there, I'm entitled to use their land. But I also let her off leash in parks or on hiking trails, despite the numerous signs warning me that my actions are illegal.
I know I shouldn't do it, but I rationalize my decision by telling myself that Maisy has a very good recall. It's not perfect, but it's rare that she'll blow me off when I call. I also know which circumstances are likely to result in her ignoring me, and I avoid them. For example, if there are winged creatures (chickens, geese, turkeys, ducks, whatever), she won't listen. So I don't let her off leash in situations where we'll encounter them.
I am also very selective about when and where I let her off leash. Even though I am confident I can call her away from approaching other people or dogs, I don't want to take that risk. That's why I only let her off leash when we're alone, and only on trails where I have an unobstructed view of the trail ahead and behind us. She goes back on leash when we approach hills, turns, or heavily wooded areas, or any other situation where we might encounter others. It's still illegal, of course, but I figure the benefits outweigh the risks.
In the end, I have a real love/hate relationship with leash laws, mostly because, for all my self-righteous indignation when we're approached by an off-leash dog, I know that deep down, I'm a huge hypocrite.