Dog Walking

The Dog Log

Weston dog owners and commercial dog walkers know and respect the rules regarding dogs in public spaces, which are detailed in the Dog By-law (PDF). This by-law represents the shared wisdom of the community.  It is a social compact that enables all users to safely and confidently share our common land, and protects our treasured open space.

To help ensure that we are maintaining a good balance of enjoyment and safety on our conservation lands, please feel free to share your dog experiences on Weston’s Dog Log located online at WestonMA.gov/DogLog. Submissions are monitored by our Animal Control Officer and the Conservation Commission.  The purpose of the Dog Log is simply to record user experiences on the trails – good, bad or neutral.

Commercial Dog Walking and Regulations

All commercial / compensated dog walkers operating within the Town of Weston must acquire a permit issued by the Town. Permit applications are available at the Weston Town Clerk's Office. Fees must be paid at the time of application. Photo identification cards and placards will be issued by the Weston Police Department following completion of the application process. 

No commercial dog walker will be permitted to walk more than 5 dogs at any one time. It is the responsibility of the walker to ensure that all dogs under their care are properly licensed and up to date on vaccinations. 

The Select Board approved Commercial Dog Walking Regulations (PDF) to accompany the Town's Dog By-law.

All Dog Walking - Residential and Commercial

All people walking dog must have in their possession a leash for each dog being walked and the means with which to pick up and properly dispose of dog waste. Waste must be properly disposed of in a trash receptacle or taken with the walker. Do not leave waste or waste in plastic bags on trails. Pet waste is toxic to the environment and to other trail users.

Dogs must be leashed when exiting the vehicle and when exiting conservation land.

Dogs must be kept on a short leash on the state's Mass Central Rail Trail at all times.

Dogs must be kept on leash on the Case Estates, Legacy Trail and connectors, and abutting conservation land.

For more information on what is expected of trail users and their dogs, please see the Walking Your Dog in Weston (PDF) brochure that was produced by the Conservation Commission.

Dog By-law

For more information, please review Article XX of the General Town By-laws (PDF) and the Commercial Dog Walking Regulations (PDF).

Dog Waste in the Environment

The Leave No Trace for Outdoor Ethics organization conducted a study on “canine defecation events” on 45,000 acres of conservation land in Boulder, Colorado. In summary, dog waste left to decompose is really, really harmful. 

All wildlife in our conservation lands forage for food in their home environment, which means they’re consuming resources and nutrients from the same ecosystem in which they live. After they’ve digested and absorbed that food, the same resources and nutrients are returned to the ecosystem via their scat. The system is basically a closed loop, with no net gain or loss in nutrients or resources. However, dogs eat pet food rich in nutrients designed to provide them with a complete diet. The dog  expels the excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, through its waste. When that is left to decompose in our woods, the excess nutrients are released into the ecosystem. 

It was found that those foreign or excessive nutrients can create unstable conditions for native plants and an inviting habitat for invasive plants. Invasives can choke out the native species. Dog waste does not present a closed loop but rather a cycle of damage. If those native plants disappear, then the potential for fewer food sources for the wildlife is presented in our woods. 

Additional damage caused by dog waste that is not picked up is to our natural waterways.  The decomposing dog waste also contains harmful pathogens. When it rains, these excess nutrients and pathogens runoff into nearby water sources, which then can cause harmful algae blooms in our water ways. Algae blooms make the water murky, green, smelly, and unusable for swimming, boating, or fishing. The algae blooms, as well as the pathogens, can make humans and animals sick.