Over 43,000 Petitioning Against Leash Laws in San Francisco. Does New Policy Go Too Far?

Should dog owners be allowed to let their dogs off-leash in public parks? That question — and to what extent — is causing a huge uproar among dog owners in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Proposed changes in regulations would make almost all of the 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area off-limits to unleashed dogs, and many dog owners are speaking up in opposition. One online petition condemning the plan now has over 43,000 signatures. A second petition by a group called Save Our Recreation has gathered almost 8,000 signatures as of this writing.

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The GGNRA isn't a single continuous area, but covers many different locations throughout San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties, including well-known tourist attractions such as Alcatraz and the Marin Headlands.

The new regulations, which have been under consideration since 2011, would require dogs to be kept leashed in all but seven areas. Activist Matthew Murphy's petition claims that the rules would not only make things more difficult for dog owners, but it would make San Francisco even more unaffordable:

Playtime isn't the only thing that suffers, though, if life gets harder for San Francisco's dog walkers. Every obstacle we put in front of them makes their service more expensive, and adds to the cost of owning a pet. Pricing San Francisco families out of pet ownership with burdensome, unnecessary rules and regulations means more amazing dogs like Trooper will spend their lives in shelters without a permanent home.

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Dog on a Beach With Golden Gate Bridge by Shutterstock.

Representative Jackie Speier has been the most visible and outspoken ally of opponents of the changes. She thinks that the National Park Service has been treating the GGNRA as its own private domain without taking into consideration that it serves an urban area. "It's not Yellowstone," she told SF Gate in March. It's not Yosemite. It is an urban area. We superimposed a national recreation area on it and then started to slowly but surely exclude areas for people to recreate in it. That's just un-American."

There are people in favor of the new policy, though. The National Park Service says that it comes specifically from repeated complaints about off-leash dogs biting or harassing other people in the area. Neal Deai, the Pacific Field Director for the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association, agrees that something needs to be done. "It's picnickers complaining that unregulated dogs are jumping on them and eating their food," he told SFGate. "It's wildlife enthusiasts trying to look at birds and seeing roving dogs harassing them. It's people on horses being bitten and attacked."

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Woman Walking Her Dog on San Francisco Beach by Shutterstock.

Even for dog lovers, the question of how much freedom for dogs in public spaces is reasonable seems legitimate. Generally speaking, I think I like dogs more than most people, and therein lies the problem: A lot of people can't be trusted to control their dogs. I often think of leash laws as being more about controlling owners who can't take responsibility than the dogs. In most parks, it's not unusual for dogs to be leashed in all but specific areas. In some ways, the policy doesn't seem that surprising at all. The National Park Service does have to balance a number of different needs: Not only dog lovers, but people who come to picnic, jog, bike ride, and play sports.

What do you think? Is this an example of the National Park Service engaging in bureaucratic overreach, or are the policy's opponents being unreasonable about unleashing their dogs? Is there someplace in the middle that the two could meet? Sound off in the comments, and tell us about strict leash laws in your area.

Via CBS Local and SFGate

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Dog Training – It’s All About the Relationship

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Your dog’s behavior doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase (or seen it written here): “The dog is always right”? The reason is that dogs are simply responding to what is happening in their environment. And, specifically, how their environment makes them feel.

Whatever your dog is doing, it is ALL about the relationship that you have with your dog. And the relationship that you have with the significant people in your life. And the relationship that you have with yourself.

The obvious relationship that matters here is how you are with your dog. Are you nervous? Rigid? Harsh? Grounded? What are you communicating with your body language? What is your emotional state communicating to your pup? 99% of the time, what your dog is doing is “right” – meaning that your dog is simply taking in all of the information that you’re giving (and primarily the physical and emotional information – NOT the intellectual or conceptual information) and doing what makes the most sense to a canine under the circumstances.

Guess who else’s behavior doesn’t exist in a vacuum? YOURS! You are affected by your self-image and beliefs, and the relationships that you’re having with those around you. One of the biggest challenges that I’ve had over the past 10+ years of working with people and their dogs has been helping the PEOPLE change their habits. I would see, over and over again, how the emotional atmosphere of a person’s life – their stress at work, or in their primary relationships, or their view of themselves – was affecting how they lived their lives. Their habits. And this is important, because…

Your habits are creating your dog’s habits.

A little over 5 years ago I decided to branch out and get some training, as a coach, from the Robbins-Madanes Institute for Strategic Intervention. For me it was an opportunity to not only focus on shifting my own habits of being, but to also develop more skills at facilitating change for the humans with whom I was working. In the time since then, it has truly been an honor to not only be helping people with their dogs, but also to be helping them with the overall quality of their lives.

During that time, it became a passion of mine to work with people on improving their romantic relationships. You may notice that my original site (yes, this existed BEFORE Naturaldogblog) www.neilsattin.com has been revived. There’s a lot of great content there, and more in the works, that’s focused specifically on improving relationships. I’m also about to launch a podcast, called Relationship Alive, focused on helping you have amazing relationships (or easeful breakups – should that be the path that you choose). So stay tuned for more information on that.

In the meantime – think about it this way. Your dog is an emotional creature, picking up on everything that’s happening in the environment and responding from a place of heart – not head. What’s going on in your world? Where is the stress? Where is the tension? Where is the anger? Where is the love? Now look at your dog’s behavior, and ask yourself “how is my dog giving a voice to everything that’s happening in our world together?” I look forward to hearing what insights you uncover.

Dog Training – It’s All About the Relationship is a post from: Natural Dog Blog – Training and More

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