Dog Walking Etiquette 101: Are You a Respectful Walker?

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Dog Walking Etiquette 101

                When it comes to walking your dog I believe there should be a certain level of etiquette.  If you are a fellow dog walker than I’m sure you have seen that one dog walker who is constantly yelling and yanking on the leash.  Or even the walker who lets their dog run free, when you are NOT at a dog park where free roaming is acceptable.  So let’s get down to the nitty gritty and go over a few rules of walking your dog.

  1. If you are not at a free roaming dog park, your dog should always be on a leash.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic that your dog is well trained and you can trust them to not take off.  I wish I could trust my fur baby enough to do that.  However, can you trust other people and other dogs in the area?  When there are other people in the park you have to think of a few things:

  • Just because you are a dog person doesn’t mean everyone else is as well (gasp!). Some of those “non-dog” people might also be terrified of dogs.
  • Some people are really allergic to dogs.
  • Just because your dog is friendly, doesn’t mean all of the dogs in the area are. Of course at a free roaming dog park the friendliness of the other free roaming dogs can be assumed.  But if you are in a regular park or just walking down the street, someone might be walking their aggressive dog on a leash nearby.
  • You also need to watch out for parking lots and streets. If you have a small dog, a driver might not see them.

I have a very friendly fur baby who loves everyone and every animal.  He tried to say hello to a cat once and caught a claw to the nose.  So when my husband and I walk him and we are passing another dog, we gauge how the other dog reacts to our approach.  If the owner pulls them away or the dog starts to growl and bark, we gain control of our dog and quickly pass.  If the owner does not pull away and the dog shows simple curiosity we let our fur baby stop and give his hello sniff then continue on our way.

  1. Clean up after your dog.

You would think that this would be a given, but it’s not.  So please pick up your dog’s mess.  When I go to the park to walk my fur baby, I don’t want to see unpleasant piles on the side of the walking path.  Children play in parks and you definitely do not want your children stomping through it then tracking it all over your car and your home.

I’m not sure how my husband and I got lucky enough to adopt a dog who refuses to do his business while on a walk.  He will wait until he is home and in the comfort of his own backyard.

  1. Share the walking path.

I believe that everyone should do their best to share the path with those who are passing by.  I have lost count of how many times my husband and I have almost been pushed off of the walking path with our fur baby due to the lack of manners.

  1. Refrain from aggressive leash yanking and punishment in public.

In my house our dog is a part of our family, like our child.  You wouldn’t spank your child in front of everyone, so you shouldn’t do it to your dog either.  If your dog needs a little more training on walking with a leash you should do this in a more private location.

When our fur baby gets excited over groups of people we simply shorten his leash and keep him close.  We then gently encourage him to keep walking.  No one is stressed and he doesn’t feel as though he is being punished.

  1. Child safety.

At our area park there are baseball fields, a fishing pond, a water park, and football practice fields.  So there are almost always children around.  We know our fur baby is great around children, but some children are afraid.  So we keep him close by and only stop if someone asks to pet him.  Even though we trust him, we still keep a firm grip on him when a child is petting him as an extra precaution.

6. Swimming.

I never thought that this would be an issue and it isn’t really something that would affect other dog walkers.  However, it does affect the fishermen.  There is no swimming allowed at the fishing pond in our favorite park.  Recently one of the famous free roaming dog walkers let their dog jump in for a swim.  Of course all swimming dogs are cute, but it scares the fish and upsets the fishermen.

  1. Recommendations for walking an aggressive dog.

Aggressive dogs need to get their exercise too.  So here are a couple of suggestions on walking an aggressive dog:

  • A yellow ribbon tied around the leash can be a signal to other walkers that your dog is aggressive.
  • Make sure your dog is up to date on its vaccinations in case there is an incident.
  • Do not put your dog in any situations that might make it uncomfortable.
  • Make sure you steer clear of other walkers and keep a firm control of the leash.

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