No matter whether you walk your dog yourself or you have someone else do it for you, there are a few basic rules you need to follow. Most of these are “Common Sence” but sometimes it help to be reminded of them.
First things first. When you are in public with your dog, make sure that your dog is always on a leash. Most communities require and enforce leash laws. If your dog happens to injure some one, or causes damage to someone’s property, and your dog is not on a leash, you can and often will be held responsible.
Next, when walking your dog, you should always carry a baggie with you so that you can pick up any droppings your dog may leave behind. No matter how kind and loving you dog may be, he/she will never be able to grasp the concept behind the art of landscaping. Homeowners spend thousands of dollars each year in an effort to make their front lawns and landscaping look nice. It is rude and downright irresponsible of you if you allow your dog to urinate or defecate on their lawn, mailbox or in their landscaping. If there is any question in your mind, you may want to choose to walk your dog in the street.
Some neighborhoods have a designated area that can be used as a “break area” where it is acceptable to allow your dog to relieve itself. But remember, it is still inappropriate to allow your dog to do so, and then not pick up after it when it finishes. We’ve all seen those people who pull out a baggie when they see neighbors looking, only to stuff it back in their pocket once the “coast is clear,” and end up leaving the pile behind. Don’t be “one of those.” You just give all of us dog owners a bad name.
Next, it is important to realize that not everyone is a dog lover. You should never assume that everyone you meet wants to pet your dog. If they want to meet you and your dog you’ll be able to tell it. As they approach you, if they want to interact, they will say something.
Some people are afraid of dogs. They also just might not be in the mood to visit with you and your dog. They may have a limited amount of time, or be out for a jog and prefer not to stop. Either way it should be their choice to greet or not greet. If they do want to stop, never allow your dog to pull you over to them. If your dog is excitable it may try to jump up on the person. Instead, keep your dog calm and make your dog sit while the person approaches.
The same thing goes for other dogs and dog walkers too. Most dog owners are interested in allowing their pet to socialize with other dogs, but some are not. But be sure to gauge their interest before approaching. And make sure you read the body language of both your dog and the other walker’s dog. Avoid contact if either dog shows any sign of fear, anxiety, animosity, or sends out any other warning signs.
That’s about it! The above rules of dog walking etiquette don’t just apply to your neighborhood. The also apply to local parks, shopping centers, the vet’s office or any other place you and your dog visit. Being a responsible pet owner can help keep our neighborhoods and recreational areas a fun place to hang out and it will also allow our local leaders to keep their focus on more important things.