What are the rules for off-leash dog areas in New Hampshire?

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On a recent walk on the trail with my two mini Bernedoodles, I had a pretty big run-in with a woman and her self-proclaimed “unfriendly dog.”

SOS friends – I need your opinion here.

I have two puppies: Miko (a little over a year old) and Larry (a little over 9 months). Both are super sweet dogs and they are very well behaved. Frequently, like yesterday, we go to a hidden off-leash dog area in Portsmouth. They usually run ahead of me, exploring the many acres of land, and come back when they hear a hiss or the words “touch” /
“heel.”

Logan Sherwood, Townsquare Media

Logan Sherwood, Townsquare Media

While we were in the woods in a designated “off-leash” area, Miko and Larry saw another off-leash dog, probably 30 feet away.

As dogs do, they quickly ran for a scent and a “hello” to the other dog. I did the typical “mine are friendly if yours are” which I thought was just the polite thing to do.

After all, we were in an off-leash dog area. Aren’t all dogs friendly here? I do not think so.

Logan Sherwood, Townsquare Media

Logan Sherwood, Townsquare Media

As my dogs and I approached, the other woman leashed her very large dog, grabbed the dog by the collar and started shouting “mine is not friendly”. And then louder, “NOT FRIENDLY.”

Kicking him to create space, “Keep your #%#$^*& dogs away.” It all happened in about 5 seconds.

I shouted “touch” and Miko, the oldest, immediately came to my side.

My 9 month old dog, Larry, hung around the “unfriendly dog” and owner for another 5-10 seconds. I shouted “touch” twice; however, I’m pretty sure Larry couldn’t hear me because of the rude expletives the woman was yelling.

I hissed over the screams and he came back to me.

The test lasted 10 seconds.

I started doing the “hey sorry, have a nice day” but the owner seemed to want to teach me a lesson. She yelled at me like I let Miko and Larry take care of the grounds or like they tormented her dog first.

“You can’t bring your dogs here if they’re not 100 percent trained in recall,” she said. “My dog ​​could have killed your dogs” was a true phrase from his mouth.

First they reminisced, and they did it well for their age, being yelled at/kicked at each other and having another dog held in front of them like a piece of steak!

Second, every person who has trained a puppy knows that the puppy can be perfect with come, sit, stay in your room; however, when they enter the living room, it’s a bit more difficult (more distractions). When they go to the yard, it’s even harder (MORE distractions).

Same with recall training. Eventually, you have to go into the woods for longer distance rappel training for them to master.

I will reiterate – Miko came back immediately. One word – “touch”. The youngest took 10 seconds. I was actually proud that he ignored the dog and came to me within 10 seconds!

And again, it was in an off-leash area.

The woman was not happy with my answer and felt the need to remind me that her dog could have killed mine (the other dog probably could have based on her size). It was then that I firmly chose my camp.

“If your dog isn’t friendly, he shouldn’t be in an off-leash area,” I said. “If your dog attacked mine, it would be on you and your dog. Not me and mine.”

We back and forth until I waved the white flag and we went our separate ways.

I came back with frustration. Was I right? Should his dog have been there? Was I wrong? Should Miko and Larry have answered in less than 10 seconds? If so, where else was I going to train for this scenario…we were there for this exact reason: remote recall training in an outdoor off-leash area.

I need advice. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me I’m right. Just help me make sense of this situation.

Disclosure: After the incident, I did some research. If I was wrong and my dogs were too young or something, I would find the woman and apologize. What I found are mixed answers.

Some NH dog parks require dogs to be at least four months old. Some parks the age is six months. Some off-leash dog parks require the dog to be spayed or spayed. Some do not mention this requirement at all, although it is generally good practice.

Some off-leash dog parks, the one we were in, actually identify that dogs must be under voice control and observation at all times. An ambiguous statement, isn’t it? I would say my dogs were under my voice control as they leaned towards me within 10 seconds while distracted by another dog. She would probably say otherwise.

If you’re curious about the rules and regulations for an NH-specific off-leash dog park, you can check them out here!

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