Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1997

Abstract

From September 1995 to April 1996 we studied interactions among dogs, people, and the environment in Boulder, Colorado. Data on behavioral disturbances by off-leash dogs who were accompanied by a person were collected with respect to dog-dog and dog-human interactions, dog-wildlife encounters, dogs trampling vegetation, and dogs entering and disturbing bodies of water. A questionnaire also was administered. Behavioral data showed that off-leash dogs generally did not travel far off trail, that when they did it was for short periods of time, and that they rarely were observed to chase other dogs, disturb people, chase wildlife, destroy vegetation, or enter bodies of water. Results from analyses of the questionnaire (skewed toward non-dog owners) showed that dog owners and non-dog owners agreed that people were more disruptive to the environment than dogs and that unruly people were more problematic than unruly dogs. We conclude that the well-being and interests of dogs should not summarily and dismissively be compromised when dogs and people attempt to share limited space that can be used by all parties for recreational purposes. Indeed, a higher percentage of people reported that the quality of dogs’ experience of the outdoors would be compromised more than their own enjoyment if dogs could not walk off-leash in areas where this is currently permitted. The methods used and the results from this case study can serve as a model for other locations in which dogs and people compete for limited spatial resources.

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