Five Tips for Better Dog-Walking Etiquette
By: Jeff Noce, Voyce President
Who doesn’t love a good stroll through the neighborhood or a nearby trail with a faithful dog by their side? Walking has long been one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways for people and pets to get fresh air and exercise…and it’s a great way to bond with your pup, too!
But before you leash up your best friend and head out the door, take a few moments to brush up on your dog-walking etiquette. These tips will help make the experience safer and more fun for you, your dog and others you encounter along the way.
Always use a leash.
Unless the route you’re taking is specified as an off-leash area, it’s a good idea to keep your dog on a 6-foot leash at all times. This tool ensures your dog stays safely by your side and out of trouble. The truth is, dogs are thinking creatures with a will of their own. Even the best-behaved, most obedient pup can have a momentary lapse should a rabbit jump out from a bush or another dog cross their path. A leash helps prevent an unexpected impulse from turning into a disaster.
Don’t approach unless invited.
No matter how friendly or dog-savvy your pup is, never allow him to approach another dog or person without first getting permission. Believe it or not, there are humans who are afraid of dogs or simply don’t like them. Others may be allergic or have another medical condition that doesn’t allow them to interact with dogs. And keep in mind that some dogs are leash reactive or uncomfortable around others of their kind.
Practice good dog-to-dog greetings.
When friendly humans approach each other, we typically do it in a straightforward manner while making direct eye contact. This practice goes against a dog’s basic instinct, and in fact, is considered rude in canine language. Most socially-adept dogs prefer to approach each other from the side, and do a “nose-to-butt” greeting. Whenever possible, allow your dog to exercise this natural behavior.
While you may be practicing good dog-walking etiquette, it seems there’s always someone out there who’s not. Protect your dog (and yourself) from unpleasant encounters by staying aware of your surroundings. This practice will help you identify an off-leash dog or a distracted owner from a distance, giving you time to manage the situation by changing course.
Pick up after your pet.
One of the most courteous and sanitary things you can do when walking your dog is to clean up after him. No one enjoys finding pet waste on their lawn, and it’s even less enjoyable to step in it. Dog waste isn’t just unsightly and smelly; it has a tremendous environmental impact. For over two decades, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has labeled it a “non-point source pollutant,” placing it in the same category as herbicides and insecticides, oil, grease and toxic chemicals, and acid drainage from abandoned mines. In addition, dog feces contain bacteria and parasites that pose a health threat to both humans and other canines. So make sure you grab the poop bags before you hit the trail!
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