For example, when walking your pet in a neighborhood, it is not courteous to allow your dog to walk on people’s front lawns, or urinate on their mail boxes or landscaping. Instead, a more appropriate way to handle your pet is to walk him in the street or on the sidewalk and allow access only to “rough” areas to eliminate. Should your neighborhood not have such an area, it is still inappropriate to allow your pooch to pee on people’s property… keep him to the strip of grass that’s between the sidewalk and street and steer clear of people’s plantings and posts.
Picking up is another issue of concern. Dog walkers, please, don’t even leave your house without a plastic bag for picking up after your pet! And don’t forget to use it! I’ve had three different people tell me recently that they’ve seen people make a great show of pulling out their plastic bag when they see neighbors driving past, only to stuff it back in their pocket once the “coast is clear,” leaving the pile behind anyway.
Have an excited dog? Keep in mind that not everyone may be as much of a dog lover as you are. If a passing person wishes to greet your pet, you will be able to tell, as they will approach you and ask if they may pet your dog. Don’t assume that every man, woman and child wish to pet your pooch as you allow him to drag you over to them and pounce upon them in greeting. Some people are afraid of dogs, or may not be in the mood to be jumped on. Perhaps they’re out for a jog and prefer not to break their stride. Either way it should be their choice to greet or not to greet.
The same holds true for other dogs. True, most people out walking their dog are interested in allowing their pet to socialize with other dogs. But be sure to gauge their interest before approaching. If your dog is barking, most people prefer not to let their dog be the “test” of whether it’s aggression or not. Further, if you have a little dog who barks and may snap, don’t assume it’s okay to allow that just because the other dog is bigger. Having firsthand experience with this, I can assure you that my dog doesn’t enjoy being bitten regardless of the fact that he is 80 pounds and his “attacker” may weigh only twelve.
Last but not least, remember that walking your dog means personally walking your dog on a leash. Numerous readers have contacted me about neighbors who simply “send their dogs out” to do their business, which inevitably ends up on their property for them to clean up. While you may not mind the piles in your yard, your neighbors should not have to worry about it in theirs.
Of course, all of the above rules of dog walking etiquette don’t only apply in your neighborhood. The same courtesies should be followed at parks, shopping centers, the vet’s office or any other place visited by you and your pet. By working together to be responsible pet owners, we can all help keep our neighborhoods and parks a fun place to be without the need for authorities to implement overly-restrictive dog laws. Happy walking!