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Here are five simple tips on dog walking etiquette that will make our neighborhood much more pleasant, for you, your neighbors (some of whom may not be as accepting of dogs and their “lovably quirky” behavior as the typical dog-lover), other dogs, and, of course, your dog:
- No trespassing! – When walking your pet around a residential neighborhood, it is universally accepted as rude if you allow your dog to walk on people’s front lawns, into their gardens, snack on their landscaping, or urinate on their mail boxes, landscaping, garbage cans, or lawn decorations. Best to keep him to the sidewalk, street, and encourage him to eliminate on common grounds. Dog urine damages grass and plants!
- Pick up the Poo!
- Best to keep the leash on. Really. – Even though you might feel very confident in how “good” your dog is in his ability to walk calmly by your side off-leash and obey all of your verbal commands, his behavior could be unpredictable, depending upon the unexpected (and exciting) nature of a given stimulus (e.g., a darting cat across the street, a tempting squirrel running up a tree, another exciting looking dog, a rushing car, a kid chasing a ball), and the worst thing that could happen while walking a dog is, of course, to lose your dog. Even if you have the utmost confidence in your dog’s off-leash ability, make sure that you acquaint yourself with your city’s leash laws in the area(s) you will be walking. You don’t want to get a ticket, or worse.
- Your dog might be friendly. But other people (and dogs!) might not be. Does your dog want to say hello to everyone that passes, are inspired to jog alongside runners, or chase down rollerbladers and bicyclists? Not everyone may be as much of a dog lover as you are, and even if they are, they may be otherwise occupied (trying to beat their personal best time on their daily run won’t happen if they are waylaid by your well-meaning social butterfly of a dog!). If a passerby is interested in your dog, you’ll know it. Best to assume that no one is as interested in your dog as you are (or as your dog is in them), and act accordingly. Some people are afraid of dogs, don’t care for dogs (I know, who ARE these people?!) or simply may not be in the mood to be sniffed, licked, or (worst of all) jumped on. Your objective on a walk should be: keep walking, calmly and purposefully, and not to let your dog run your walk!
- Keep the noise down. – No one enjoys an overly-vocal dog, any more than they enjoy that overly-vocal coworker who traps you at the water cooler wanting to discuss their cat’s latest bout of fur balls.
As holds true for all parents, pet parents hold a significant amount of responsibility in their hands, and every time you and your pet hit the streets, you both are acting as “ambassador” for dogs, dog owners, and responsible behavior all around. As dog lovers would all agree, the presence of all of the sweet, funny, quirky, silly, wise, protective, placid, loving dogs in our lives all contribute to enriching our neighborhoods and parks, when they listen to Miss Manners, of course. Now… who wants to go for a walk?!!