dog in a park

The Do’s and Don’ts of Dog Ownership Etiquette

While all dogs are known to have their “rude” moments, we also all know one dog that really takes the cake. Whether it’s the unleashed angry dog down the road that likes to terrify small children or the one that does its business on your lawn- we can all think of a time when we thought “I wish they’d keep their dog under control”. In this day and age, it’s not only good manners to be mindful of your surroundings and the people around you- it’s good sense to ensure that you protect yourself and your pet from harm.


Continually Train Your Dog

It’s one of the most fundamental yet basic principles of owning a dog. Well-trained dogs are a delight to have around, their recall is excellent, and their minds are stimulated. Yet, more and more often we see members of the public looking to become dog owners without the notion of taking the time and energy to correctly train their dog.

Training your pup is about more than just having an obedient pet. It keeps their mind active and allows them to see you as the Alpha. Since dogs are pack animals, it’s vital that they see you as leader of their gang, otherwise you should expect to be routinely ignored. Teaching your dog manners can mean the difference between a tearaway who refuses to listen to you and a happy dog that feel they have direction, as well as someone to look to when they are nervous or unsure.

Of course, this is an ongoing relationship between dog and master, so don’t think your job is done once the basics have been learned. If you’re struggling for ideas on what to do next, it’s a good idea to take your dog to training lessons, or even try out some agility classes!

Scoop Your Poop

This one should really go without saying, but the amount of dog owners who leave their dog’s poo lying around would surprise you. It’s dirty, it’s smelly and it can cause a lot of harm to others, if left unchecked. You might think that I’m being a little overdramatic- but did you know that there’s bacteria in dog poo that can cause people to go blind, should they accidentally get any near their eyes?

Imagine this: your dog does his or her business and you leave it there. A kid walks by and falls over into it, or even accidentally stands in it (we’ve all been there). Later, they’re cleaning their shoes off and- suddenly- a sneeze creeps up. Without thinking, their hand flies to their face to catch the sneeze. Congrats- you’ve vicariously given a kid roundworm and toxocariasis. Don’t be that guy. Scoop your poop.

Related Post: Best Dog Pooper Scooper

Keeps Dogs on Leads in Busy Areas

Your dog may well be friendly with other dogs- but you don’t know what other dogs are like with yours. Owners should always be aware that other dogs may be very nervous, reactive, or may simply have owners that do not want to be disturbed. Not to mention that other pups in the area may well be training and could do without the distraction.

There will always be a few blips on the way- after all, it takes time to master your recall, and pups, like kids, sometimes get carried away and switch off their ears. This is why it’s a good idea to keep your dog on a lead in busy areas, so that you don’t have to chase them or scold them, just for wanting to play. It’s much fairer for everyone if your dog is kept on their dog leash.

Keep Your Dogs Close in Open Areas

If there are no designated walking spaces near you, then it’s understandable that you’ll want to bring along your canine companion on walks through the street and in general public spaces. Of course, this choice comes with its own dangers. Dog-walkers always need to be alert to vehicles and unknown dangers around them.

Keeping your dog close by negates the concerns that your pet may become over-excited and run out into the street without any warning, and stops your dog from taking off into the distance before you have a chance to catch hold of them and keep them safe.

Make Sure Your Dog Receives Adequate Exercise and Stimulation Throughout the Day

As mentioned previously, it’s important to train your dogs. This is a daily task and allows your dogs mind to be stimulated, leaving them much happier and with a sense of purpose. There’s no naughty dog quite like a bored dog! Hide toys from your dog and encourage them to use those marvelous noses of theirs to sniff it out, do a little training with them around the house or even try out some basic agility in your back garden.

It’s also important to keep to a routine in which your dog is receiving regular exercise throughout the day. If you’re only taking your dog on one walk a day, it can lead to all of their pent-up energy being released at once. This can be frustrating for you and concerning for other, more timid dogs in the area, who aren’t quite ready to have a very excited four-pawed pal jumping in front of them.  A good routine to be in includes taking them out first thing in the morning, which also lets them do their business (see “Scoop your poop”) and when you get home from work.

Put Your Dog’s Needs First

It should be obvious to dog lovers but it’s amazing how many people forget about their dogs needs and wants after a few months of ownership. Putting your dog’s need first is vitally important to maintaining a happy dog-and-master relationship- no dog wants to feel that their needs aren’t cared for.

As an example, if you have a dog that is nervous around children, don’t take your pup to the park (where there is likely to be lots of children). Your dog will become stressed, nervous, and- ultimately- snappy. They will also refuse to go for walks, since the walk will become associated with that anxiety and fearfulness. This will lead to stress for you and a dog that has too much energy, so it’s likely your house will become their new playpen, where all of your things will be chewed and your mind will slowly unravel.

Put your dog first, it saves your sanity and leaves everyone much happier.

Think About Others

If a fellow dog walker is making an effort to stay away from you and your pup, follow their lead- they may have a good reason to keep their dog away from others. If another dog or person is nervous around dogs, it’s better for everyone to keep your dog away from them. This is especially true since dogs can pick up on emotions and being around someone who is nervous is likely to make them anxious, too.

There’s also the basics of dog etiquette in the home, such as training your dog not to bark and helping them with their separation anxiety. This is particularly true for those who live in close-quarters, such as apartments. Nobody wants to hear an upset dog all day- and owners should certainly try to help their pups if they’re known to become anxious. It’s all part of what makes a good dog owner.

dog outside


Let Them Go on People’s Private Property

This one should be self-explanatory but it’s amazing how many people feel the need to purposely ignore their dogs while their pup wanders off and onto people’s private property. If you know your dog is likely to wander, then keep them on a lead or take some time to work on their recall. It’s not fair to your neighbors, especially if you know your dog is likely to do their business on someone else’s lawn.

Not to mention that you might not know what is in their garden. It could be that the property your dog has innocently strolled onto could contain a dangerous dog that has been tied up or a cat that your dog might enjoy chasing. You wouldn’t stroll into a stranger’s house, so don’t let your dog treat another garden or home like it’s their own.

Allow Your Dog to Run Up to Strangers

It’s hard to believe- but not everybody loves dogs. And while you and I might both know that, that’s a little crazy, it’s also important to let people go about their day-to-day lives without coming across a rather forward pup. Yes, your dog might be friendly and yes, they may only want to play or show this stranger a new toy they’ve found but it’s not fair to assume that everyone loves your dog as much as you do.

For some, it’s the equivalent of having a stranger turn up and put a spider on your shoulder. Not a nice thought. Everyone has their likes and dislikes, so be sure to train your dog not to run up to and jump on strangers.

Let Your Dog Bully Other Dogs

As mentioned previously, dogs are very much pack animals, and their need to determine dominance is all part of their instinct. So, if your dog is a little forceful, take them to training and try to encourage a little more friendliness on their part. Likewise, if your dog likes to bully other dogs when out on walkies, be sure to make a point that this isn’t tolerated.

Don’t let dogs sort out their own differences. If your dog is behaving in a manner that is quite forceful, separate them from the object of their attention before it turns into a fight. It’s usually fairly easy to spot the difference between a friendly game of run-up-jump-around-and-run-away, and the more boisterous nipping and pushing of an overly-pushy dog.

Leave Your Dog Unattended

If you’re out on a walk with your pup, you should always be keeping an eye on them. While it’s OK to chat to other dog-walkers or even have a quick nosy on your phone, you should always be aware of where your dog is and what they’re up to. This will stop them wandering off without your knowledge, leading to much panicking and shouting of names later, as well as helping you spot when your pup is likely to run up to someone or something they shouldn’t.

There’s also the fact that your dog is likely to do their business while out and about- and playing ignorant doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have to clean up your dog’s mess. Both bad behavior and good behavior should be monitored, so never leave your dog unattended when out and about.

Hopefully, this article will have helped you understand some of the basics of dog ownership etiquette while off out on walks with your dog. Of course, all dogs are different and every walk will bring its own challenges but these should give you a good head start in dealing with the unknown while out and about.  While there are many ways to ensure your dog minds his manners, it’s vastly important for us humans to take the lead and show our pups what really constitutes a well-behaved- and therefore enjoyable- trip out!

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