1. Know your dog. Does your dog bark at or try to chase bicyclists? Does she go crazy at the sight of a uniformed delivery person? Does she go nuts when you cross paths with a squirrel or other dog? You can have a safer walk by calmly avoiding situations that could trigger your dog.
2. Be aware of your surroundings. Always walk with your head up and eyes forward, scanning the area. Don’t walk while using headphones or talking on your cell phone. This will help you to spot any possible dangers such as cars or off leash dogs.
3. Learn how to read other dogs/dog walkers. Not everyone out there is in full control of their dogs, and the walkers who aren’t in control are also the ones most likely to cause some sort of incident, whether it’s jumping on or snapping at people, or getting loose. With practice you can learn to tell whether an approaching walker is in control or not. Is their dog walking next to or just behind them, or is it lunging forward or pulling them off balance? How do they try to correct their dog? If they’re shouting, “No!” at their dog constantly, then they aren’t in control. If you can hear them coming before you can see them, then it’s probably best to cross the street or move up onto a lawn or driveway until they’ve passed.
4. Don’t let your dog approach others without asking first. This applies to dogs and people. You won’t necessarily know whether their dogs are aggressive, or whether they’re afraid of dogs. You may have the friendliest dogs in the world, but that stranger walking toward you doesn’t know that, and you don’t know them or their dogs, either.
5. Make sure you have a sturdy, reliable leash and don’t use retractable leashes. There are many safety concerns with retractable leashes & they offer little control over your dog in a dangerous situation.
6. Always scoop your poop. Keep plastic bags handy and never deposit a full bag into a neighbor’s trash can. Not only is this good dog walking etiquette, it is also the law in most places.
7. Be a considerate neighbor. Don’t let your dog trample flower beds or urinate on delicate flowers, shrubs, gardens, trash cans, lawn decorations, etc.
8. Always obey leash laws. Earlier this year we wrote about the importance of this tip here: Important Reasons to Always Obey Leash Laws.
What are some situations you’ve run across on a walk where you or someone else did or did not follow these rules of dog walking etiquette? Let us know in the comments.