Last weekend I flew down to San Francisco with my frenchie, Bambi, to visit a good friend and former client and her dog. The weekend involved a lot of dog activities, including a tour of Oliver's top parks and beaches.
I was surprised to learn that it is customary to have your dog off leash in San Francisco. I don't know what the official leash laws are, but every where you go, dogs are off leash running in the parks. Dog owners or not, every one seems to be ok with this. I certainly saw a lot of happy dogs over the weekend!
I immediately noticed a different attitude about dogs than I've experienced in Seattle. At the parks I visited, there were 5-10 dogs running off-leash at any given time, kids playing, and people picnicking all in the same area. I didn't see a single negative dog interaction, in fact, the dogs weren't even necessarily interested in each other, they were just happy doing their own thing. The school teachers and nanny's didn't seem to mind the dogs running around the kids, and the dogs didn't mind the kids. And most surprising, the dogs didn't even hassle the people with food! The dogs, the kids, and the parents (of 2 and 4 legged kids) seemed to just be so well socialization amongst one another that they were all just able to coexist without issue.
I know this can't be a generalization for all the dogs in the city of San Francisco, but the just the few situations I witnessed were so different than what I am used to in Seattle. It wasn't an issue if the dogs were on leash or off leash, near the play ground or not, they were just simply there, fitting in with the rest of the activity.
I watched Bambi and Oliver play with dogs they normally wouldn't have shown any interest in. Oliver didn't mind the corgi harassing him for a ball for half an hour, in fact his tail was wagging the whole time. Bambi had a great wrestling match with a Chihuahua - I haven't seen her play like that since she was a puppy.
There was a noticeable difference in the attitude about dogs and the behavior of the dogs we encountered over the weekend. It makes me wonder how different Seattle would be without strict leash laws. Would our dogs become better socialized as a result? Would our dogs have better recall and better obedience since there were so many opportunities to practice as puppies? Would our kids grow up to be more comfortable around dogs?