Do you live near what dog owners call the “dog zone” — the only part of the lawn where dogs are not welcome?
Not if you happen to be planning on bringing your own pooch outside, which most people do now that city neighborhoods feature personal yards that dog owners can take outside to meet their pets.
According to The Washington Post, since the City of Chicago adopted a law in 2000 that dictates where dogs are allowed to run free (running across neighbors’ yards is illegal), there has been a 28 percent increase in the number of people who own their own “dogspieland” yards.
The desire to have more space for their pets has led to some owners moving off the grid — even to remote cities, like upstate New York — so their dogs can run free.
Virginia is no exception, as The Loudoun Times-Mirror has reported that a growing number of people are picking up their neighbors’ trash (really) and cultivating their own personal yards to keep their pooches.
It’s made for an interesting conversation in the Washington area: Should you be allowed to run dogs off-leash in your own yard?
“We have no crime. It’s just a beautiful area, and we like to share it with everyone else,” a Loudoun resident told the newspaper.
In a Washington Post survey of 2,000 residents of the capital region, 37 percent said they didn’t mind leaving their dogs on a leash (but not in other people’s yards).
Eight percent said they didn’t mind leaving their dogs on a leash at all, while one percent said they couldn’t stop the running around.
Other cities around the world have taken notice of the rise in canine owners and introduced their own restrictions on pet owners bringing their dogs to their yards.
British dog owners who continue to use their private pet parks and canals to keep their dogs off-leash may run the risk of getting fined, The Telegraph reports. The parks’ owner, the Natural Environment Research Council, said that the problem is clear — large numbers of dogs are running off-leash and the parks aren’t getting enough visitors, as the animals are off-leash 28% of the time.
This includes Richmond, California — where illegal dog running has been the subject of an increase in dog attacks on humans. People are taking matters into their own hands and turning to their property management companies to create a private dog area, reports The Guardian.
“The staff would like to set a ground minimum of 30 metres,” Joe Collingwood, the executive director of the property management company, told the publication. “We want to be extremely mindful of our neighbors and the environmental costs they incur because of illegal dogs.”
If you think you don’t have the space for your dog to run around, it may be time to think again, at least for some dogs. Researchers at Temple University found that if dogs and their owners have limited room for them to play, the chances are high that your dog will resort to aggressive, antisocial behaviors.
“It’s like in people. When you don’t have enough room to sit and play with friends, you’ll act differently,” Dr. Claire Sherrard, the lead researcher of the study, told The Guardian.
It’s time to take a pause to think about the impact of your backyard for your dog.
“Even if you’re not close to another neighbor, your dog is far from a private refuge. It’s a very noisy environment,” Sherrard said. “When I was walking my own dogs, I was expecting them to be quiet and sit inside for hours, but they were often off-leash roaming the place.”