Ground Rules: Dog Walking Etiquette 101
Your dog’s daily walk is a cornerstone of their routine. Not only does walking provide them with much-needed exercise; but being outside in the fresh air and interacting with the world around them is important for dogs and people alike.
This simple activity may seem like a no-brainer, but not everyone views dog walking in the same way or has the same goal in mind. By following some basic dog walking etiquette principles, you can maintain good relationships with your neighbors, the environment, and your dog.
Dog Walking Etiquette Tips
- Use a leash – Unless you’re in a designated off-leash area, such as a dog park, your dog should always be leashed while on a walk, hike, or run. Even dogs with excellent recall can be spooked or upset by another dog, animal, or person. A leash gives you the control you need to keep your dog and others safe. Stick to a sturdy, 4-6’ traditional leash – reconsider the use of retractable leashes, as they pose a serious risk of injury to your pet, you, or other pedestrians.
- Scoop the poop – Picking up after your pet is another non-negotiable rule of dog walking etiquette. Dog feces is not only unsightly and can leave brown spots on the grass, it can leach into the groundwater and can spread diseases or parasites to other animals and people. Plus, failing to clean up after your pet gives all dog owners a bad name.
- Be respectful – The importance of respecting other people and other species cannot be understated. Don’t allow your dog to interact with other individuals or dogs without asking permission first. Cats, birds, and other wildlife are unlikely to enjoy meeting your dog as well, so keep Fido from interacting with other animals.
- No trespassing – Allowing your dog to walk through other people’s lawns or gardens, snack on their vegetation, or pee all over their lawn ornaments is a quick way to earn yourself and other dog walkers a bad reputation. For a harmonious relationship with your community, treat other people’s property the way you would like yours treated.
- Pay attention – Ultimately, you are responsible for your dog’s behavior and actions. Your dog should stay by your side at all times, don’t allow them to wander off the trail or into the street, and make sure they aren’t approaching others or wrapping their leash around people or objects. Training your dog to stop and sit at crosswalks is a good way to keep them focused while on a walk and may save their life should they ever get loose.
Owning a pet is a huge responsibility; not only are you in charge of their safety and well being, you are essentially an ambassador for all other pet owners. Your care and attention to dog walking etiquette will pay off big time in the form of more enjoyable walks for you and your pup and a great relationship with the world around you.
As always, your team at Bowman Veterinary Hospital is happy to address your questions and concerns about dog walking etiquette. Now, grab that leash and hit the streets!