We bet you follow the rules in parks and other communal places that allow dogs, but what about you and your dogs’ conduct beyond laws and regulations?
There are tricks that make an outing with your mutts much more fun for everyone and it all comes down to etiquette. Just like nobody loves a road hog, everybody loves a well-behaved dog (and human).
Here are some suggestions for ways to avoid unpleasant interactions and angry human outbursts when you take your dog for a walk (or run) where others roam.
- Leash on, worries off
Rules around restraining your pets may differ from one zone to another, or one province to another, but one rule of thumb applies everywhere: avoid trouble!
One of the best ways to do this is to keep your dog leashed when you’re out and about. Use your discretion on this one – you may have one dog that stays by your side without a leash, and one that doesn’t, and think it’s okay to take one leash only. What happens if a squirrel crosses their path and then dashes into the busy road, though? Nothing, if your dog is on the lead. Maybe a tug. To help you reign in life’s many surprises when you’re just trying to go for a run with your favourite furry one(s), there are a variety of leashes and harnesses available for different dog walking styles, needs and activities.
Situations can become tricky in close proximity anyway, like when a friend approaches and your leashed dog lunges at her with love. For these instances, it’s useful to train your doggle to “sit” or “stay” and we recommend puppy school at any age!
TIP: If you’re using a retractable leash, shorten it if you see (or hear) others approaching. This keeps your dog closer to you for easier handling in case of excitement (like the “zoomies“). It also limits the chances of anyone or anything tripping over the leash. And if it’s bright and visible from afar, you’re really winning. 😉
- Trespassing pooches not allowed
You wouldn’t enter someone else’s property uninvited (because it’s illegal), but it’s okay if Sushi the Spanish hurry into a front garden to have a sniff of the lawn, right? Nope! It’s not okay because regardless of whether or not it leads to damage (for which you are legally liable), it can lead to bad vibes between the neighbours… Dog walks are supposed to be fun. Keep them that way by keeping Rover off somebody else’s grass.
TIP: Our pet cover gives you legal liability cover in case your dog does cause damage to someone’s property. Just saying. 😉
- Pick up that poop
In the wild, scat (faeces) are left lying around for good reason – to mark a wild dog’s territory for other mates, rivals and other wild ones. In urban/tamed spaces, Poop Out of Place (shortened to, um, POOP) is more than a disgrace to a dog’s good name. It is unpleasant, unhygienic and potentially very dangerous. Parvovirus, for example, is transmitted by faeces, and can survive outdoors for months or, sometimes, years. We’re not saying that your dog has a virus (only a vet can diagnose this) but compassionate dog lovers routinely clean up doggie doo to keep parks pretty and limit the spread of pathogens that can kill or make dogs ill. Keep a dog-walk kit on you, including compostable, biodegradable poop bags, clean digested “deposits” up quickly, and dispose of them appropriately (e.g. in a properly managed home compost heap). It helps to train your pup to do his business on strips of soil at the base of trees in paved areas or on grassy spots on the pavement.
TIP: If your dog eats poop – any kind of poop – it might be a sign of something serious. Get to know what your dog is telling you with such strange snacking here.
- Ask – and receive – permission to approach pets and people before engaging
Even if you know a dog and its human, you may not know what mood they’re in today. Always check if it’s okay to move closer to a dog by getting verbal permission from the person heading the party. Use great caution with dogs that seem to be alone. They may have run ahead of their human, but they could also be anxious, hurt, or dangerous (e.g. rabid or carrying rabies, which you’ve vaccinated your pets for recently, of course).
TIP: How to change course without hurting feelings or necks…
You may see a situation looming that you and your pooch want no part of. You’re perfectly within rights to avoid it, but the way you do it can affect your dog and the social atmosphere in a shared space. Whipping around on one foot and dragging a dog away might be perceived as offensive, and also confuse or hurt your hound.
Jon Bastian of Cesar’s Way suggests a more practical way to do it. “The trick is to make it appear to be just a normal change in course on your walk. Do not abruptly stop and pull up on your dog’s leash, and do not yank your dog to try to change direction.” He goes on to explain that if this involves crossing the street, you can approach the curb of the pavement calmly, and cross it normally when it is clear.
“If you need to use sound or a verbal cue to redirect your dog, that’s fine,” he continues. “The important part is that you do so calmly and quietly. Remember: Dogs interpret loud human sounds as barking, and barking by one dog often induces excitement in another.”
- When Fidos are DINOS: always apply respect
It’s no secret that every dog is different. Some dogs are naturally outgoing. They greet every other living being enthusiastically, with paws, claws, jaws and more. Others do not. They may:
- still be in training,
- be cautious by nature,
- carry emotional traumas that make them unpredictable,
- or be ill (and contagious!)
- or wish to be left alone.
Same goes for other humans, but usually, they can communicate this to us. Dogs and their body language aren’t always understood. And while each mutt is different, there is one formula for handling the situation. The DINOS manifesto! Do you know the safest way to engage other humans and dogs whether your dog is a Dog In Need Of Space (DINOS™) or not? The manifesto is here for you. It has helpful suggestions around personal space for pooches and people and it’s important because DINOS deniers “are wide-spread,” as Jessica Dolce warns in her blog, Notes From A Dog Walker. She illustrates by explaining that “they refuse to believe that their dog is one of the following: inappropriate, rude, or aggressive. They fool unsuspecting dog owners by saying their dogs are friendly, but in reality, they are not. Typically, after an incident occurs, they admit it has happened before, as in: “I don’t know why, but my dog almost always bites when he’s at the dog park.”
TIP: Identify your dog’s needs and respect others’ in shared areas like parks, pavements, or dog cafés.
That’s it, our top 5 tips for a wonderful walk in the park. Or on the pavement. Or at pet day-care gardens. In fact, for anywhere that other humans and canines are present, awareness, politeness and peace ought to be the name of the game. Especially the vet reception area.
If you’ve ticked all the boxes on this list and are looking for more, try a mammoth pet-care checklist over here, you overachiever 😉. It’ll help you be the best pet parent on the block in the country. This includes saving huge amounts on pet medical care, which is what our cover helps you do. We’ll quote you online in minutes. Click or tab here for a pet cover quote as unique as your dog.
More, you say? We’ve got more:
- Dogs are speaking to us all the time. Here’s what different dog sounds mean.
- Wait, what does “woof” mean, then? Decode dog barks here.
- Has your dog taken off after a cat or squirrel? Here’s how to handle it.
- Is your dog a scaredy cat? S/he’s probably got a good reason for that!
- Approaching a dog you don’t know? Here’s how to do so safely.
- Red flag! Colour-coded dog leashes are a warning.
- Before you take your pup out, know what it needs, 24/7.
- Before you take your old dog out, is s/he sore or having trouble seeing? Read this first.
- Here’s more info on pet vaccinations.
- Wait, what are the “zoomies”? We explain it here along with other odd dog behaviour.