While dog walking etiquette isn’t a blinding animal welfare issue, it is something all dog owners and those without dogs should be aware of. We are all just as guilty of reaching out to pet a random dog on the sidewalk without asking, as we are guilty of envying those who can walk with their dogs off leash. Unfortunately, these two things are actions we want to avoid. Have you ever found your pup running after a dog who is on a leash to play, only to have it end in a nip or a bite? Walking your dog off-leash can be frustrating not only for people who may not like dogs, but also for the dog lovers who happen to own a not so approachable pooch. Finding out you might not be the most polite dog walker? Never fear, we are going to talk about the proper way to prance your pooch right here.
1. Keep your beast on a leash
Your dog might be the friendliest and most obedient dog there is. You may have had him or her since they were 8 weeks old, and they listen to your every command and only want to cover everyone they meet in slobbery kisses. The person walking on the other side of the street,however, may have a dog who is protective or who is a rescue with an unknown past. You never know the dog on the other leash’s story, so please be respectful and avoid mishaps where your dog approaches another dog or human who is not fond of the greeting.
2. Respect space
If a dog owner is creating space between you and your dog by keeping their dog on a tight leash and walking on the other side of the road, respect that space. Follow suit by keeping your dog close by. Those with retractable leashes, please don’t let your dog wander uncomfortably close to the other dog.
3. Be vocal
If you want your dog to greet another dog for the first time, maintain distance between you and the new dog, and ask the owner if it is okay if they greet each other.
This goes both ways. Dog owners with a rescued or protective pooch, be sure to let the other owner know to keep their distance if it seems they are getting too close.
4. Approach new dogs wisely
Ask the owner if it is acceptable to pet their dog. If they say yes, be sure to approach the new dog slowly, and never come over the top of their head with your hand. Try petting their shoulders or extending an open palm, and let the dog come to you first.
5. Never just reach out and start petting a strange dog
I am the first person to admit that when I see a dog, I geek out and make a beeline for the animal to greet him or her. However, I have changed my ways in asking the owners, first, if it is okay if I pet their dog.
Always be considerate, and don’t assume just because your dog is friendly, the other dog is, too. They may be a rescue who is currently being rehabilitated, or they may be protective of their mom or dad.
I hope you have found yourself enlightened in the world of Dog Walking Etiquette 101!