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Me and My Mutt are Finally Legal in Summit County

If you are a dog owner like I am, you may occasionally run afoul of the law. I know, your dog, just like mine, is “perfect.” Your dog would never harm anyone. Your dog generally follows your commands. Everyone loves your dog.

So, much like me, you let your canine companion run off leash. On occasion, things happen. Your dog wanders in front of a cyclist on a trail and causes them to slow down; not cool because you are breaking the law. Your dog approaches someone who obviously doesn’t like dogs; again not cool because who wants to scare someone and make them feel uncomfortable. Your dog approaches a small child and licks them; still not cool because we are breaking the law (and terrifying the average park city parent). Yet, if you are like me, you may justify the encounter and say “it won’t happen again” or “no harm… no foul” or “crap, I got lucky that time.”

Yet, we know it still isn’t right (and is against the law for many good reasons).

Recently, I decided to side with the good guys and follow the law but it hasn’t impacted my dog walks whatsoever. One of the ingenious things about Summit County is that they seem to understand that many of us treat our dogs on par with children. We want to bring them everywhere and have a special relationship with them. Heck, one member of the community bought a coffee shop and named it after her dog. Yet, that doesn’t negate responsibility. How do county rules marry responsibility with freedom?

The electronic dog collar.

County dog ordinances state, “A dog shall be considered under restraint of the owner and therefore not “at large” when: The dog is under the control of its owner through the use of an electronic dog collar, provided that the owner maintains voice and sight control as outlined in subsection B of this section and carries a physical leash or lead with them at all times”

In my case this works perfectly for my 16 year old mutt that is nearly deaf. In her prime, I could whistle and she would come running, no matter what was happening. Yet, I was struggling because that whistle isn’t heard like it used to be. Now the electronic dog collar, with a simple buzz (I’ve never used anything more than vibration) gets her attention and she comes running again.

It’s required a little work (I suppose many would call it training but I would call it working together) to make sure she associates the buzz with the old-school whistle. A few days in and now I am both doing the right thing and following the law. Best of all, she comes every time I call.

The great thing is that these devices aren’t expensive. I was expecting to pay a few hundred dollars but it cost less than $45 and works great. There are many different models from different companies, but this is the one I got. Of course, to follow rules I also carry a small leash.

The downside that many people will cite is the cruelty of a shock associated with electronic collars. I completely agree with that. Most electronic collars have some sort of “shock” function associated with the collar. I made sure that I tested the shock-option on myself, first, to see how it felt. Even the lowest level felt like sticking my finger in some sort of socket. So, I’ll be sticking with the pure vibration mode unless something really unexpected happens. I would recommend finding a collar that either provides an option for an audible beep or vibration. That way 99.99999% of the time, you are just getting your best friend’s attention and not jamming their neck into an electrical outlet.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that electronic collars aren’t for every dog. They are not for aggressive dogs. The literature that came with my collar specified that in detail and I completely agree. A dog that shows any aggression should always be physically leashed when in the potential company of others. It’s also not a turnkey solution. Even my “perfect” dog needed some time to associate a vibration on her neck with the old whistle. I’m sure there are trainers who can help in almost any situation, but my old gal “got it” pretty quickly.

So, you may want to consider the electronic leash (along with carrying another leash). In the right circumstance, with the right dog, I think you’ll find it not only enables you to comply with the law but makes for a better experience with your best friend.






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