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Posted on: July 20, 2018

Why is There a Leash Law in Dallas? A Wildlife Perspective

Walk the dog

You often hear or see the rule about keeping your dogs on leashes while in Dallas parks. The main reason for this rule is safety, for yourself, other park users and your dog. Unless you are in a designated, fenced in dog park, your dog must be on a leash.  Recently we have heard of off-leash dogs being chased or bitten by coyotes at certain parks.

Did you realize that that within the city, the leash law is a major wildlife management tool?  The natural areas within our parks are often the best wildlife habitat left inside Dallas’ highly developed city limits.  We encourage you to get out and enjoy nature and take along your furry friend, but keep immediate control of your dog with a 6 foot leash.  This will reduce the chance of your pet, and you, having a negative interaction with wildlife.  This time of year, coyotes and bobcats may still have young with them, and a dog getting too close could possibly trigger a territorial issue.  Smaller dogs may be viewed as a potential food option.  Unrestrained dogs are also more likely to chase and harass wildlife which puts more stress on the animals.  We get frequent reports of dogs chasing ducks, rabbits and squirrels in parks. During the course of the chase, the dog may encounter some hazards such as snakes. Most dogs bitten by snakes or injured by other means are dogs which were off leash.

Another issue with unrestrained dogs is unintentionally spreading invasive plant species.  Dogs are great carriers of plant seeds.  In the prairie remnants around White Rock Lake, we are trying to fight the Sweet Scabious plant.  Watching where it tends to pop up, it is very evident that it is be spread by dogs running around.  Keeping the dogs on a leash and staying on established trails would greatly help reduce the spread of this plant species.

If you would like to exercise your dog off leash, please feel free to visit one of the four Dallas Park and Recreation dog parks. A list of the parks can be found on

If you would like more information on nature in Dallas Parks, please check out the Urban Biologist website.  

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