Dog Walking Etiquette
By Stacy Mantle
Walk Your Dog Each Day
In a world where many different species enjoy walking each day, it’s important to understand the rules of the road for canines. The rules below are not hard and fast, they aren’t legally binding and they aren’t meant to be regulated. They are intended as good “common sense” rules for any pets who enjoy walks.
1. Respect personal space. Whether you’re on a trailhead or at the dog park, there are people who will not love your dog. Even fellow dog lovers are hesitant around other breeds. Some small-breed lovers will be in complete fear of your large-breed dog no matter how friendly, and vice versa. Never force your dog on another person or animal.
Teach your pet to keep his nose to himself. People don’t generally like to be sniffed—particularly if they are running or walking or just enjoying the day. Keep your pet under control and never allow her to pull at the leash in search of a quick sniff of another dog or person.
2. Leashes are required. Besides being good common sense, leashes are required by law in nearly every state and that includes state and national forests. It doesn’t matter if your dog is friendly, it doesn’t matter if your dog always listens. If any other person views your pet as a threat, they can legally defend themselves, which can lead to tragic results.
Keep your leash short. This can help eliminate problems with tangled leashes, territorial sidewalk users and other such problems. The only exception to using a leash is in a designated off-leash area.
3. Clean up after your pet. You should not allow your pet to urinate or defecate in a person’s yard, a golf course or in a public park. Urine can leave ugly brown spots and create problems for a property owner. Look for a public, remote area for your pet to do her business. If an accident does happen, be courteous and clean up after your pet. It’s the law in most municipalities and it makes for good neighbors.
4. Not all dogs are friendly. You should never assume that because your pets are friendly, other people’s pets are friendly, too. Don’t allow your pet to approach other animals without an invitation. You never know how controlled the other animal may be.
5. Be respectful of other species. Cats are going out on walks more frequently, as are birds, ferrets and even other lesser-known and more unusual species. This is why you should never allow or encourage your dog to chase any type of animal. Your dog may interpret a cat to be a squirrel, leading to disastrous consequences. Train your pets to recognize and be receptive to other species.
6. Announce your arrival. When running or walking with your dog, it’s always polite to inform those ahead of you that you’re coming up behind. This can be done with a simple “Behind you” or “To your left” announcement, letting them know you’re planning to pass. This is particularly important when using public walkways.
7. Teach children. Nearly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year and more than 72 percent of those are children. We have to begin educating kids (even other people’s children) on the proper way to approach an animal. This begins with you and your dog. Let parents and children know they need to approach slowly, ask to pet your dog and always keep their faces away from the dog.
8. Elevators and enclosed areas. When in an elevator or other enclosed area of a public building, your dog should move to the back corner of the elevator and sit quietly near you as people get on and off. Keep your pet on a short leash, as some people have a real fear of being in an elevator with a dog.
9. Stop and sit at crosswalks. Your dog should always stop before a crosswalk and sit quietly beside you. While not all dogs can be trained to do this, it’s important to work up to it. Not only that, it could save their lives if they ever got loose.
10. The five training commands. Come, drop, leave it, heel and sit-stay are the five basic commands every pet should know before walking out the door. If your pets cannot do these things, you should focus your training until they can.
Owning a pet is about being a responsible pet owner. You are responsible for teaching your pets good etiquette as they will not learn from others. Together we can make the world a better place for our animals and other humans.
About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at www.StacyMantle.com