Have you ever considered there is a certain way you, as a pup parent, should behave when walking your furry child? Often, a heavy focus is placed on the way a pooch behaves (or should behave when properly trained). However, with something like dog-walking which requires two to tango, there is a certain etiquette that the puppy parent should follow as well. Here’s a helpful list of do’s and don’ts to help you master dog-walking, prevent potential problems with other dogs and people you encounter on your walks, and make it an overall enjoyable experience for both you and your pup!
Always make sure you have bags with you to pick up after your dog. It’s impolite to leave your dog’s waste somewhere that others might step in it, not to mention it’s unsightly and doesn’t exactly smell pleasant! Always pick up after your dog and dispose of his poop in a public trash can or your own. Every time.
- Use a leash. Even if you believe your dog will listen to you and immediately return to your side when you call, you can’t always predict what you might encounter on your walks. A squirrel, cat or another dog might catch your dog’s attention and distract him from your commands, a car could come around the corner suddenly, or your dog might startle someone else as he bounds up to greet them. Keep your dog safely by your side so you can control his movements, and potentially remove him from any dangers that come his way.
- Respect other pedestrians. And remember, not everyone loves your dog as much as you do! Although you might be used to certain behaviors of your pooch at home, everyone raises their puppies differently, and may not approve of your dog’s behavior. For example, even if you allow jumping up at home, others you encounter may not want your dog jumping on them. Even the biggest dog lover may take issue with your pup charging, jumping or slobbering all over them. The strangers you encounter probably have no idea what your dog is like, so respect them by keeping your pup on a close leash.
- Change course when necessary. Keep an eye on other dog walkers and assess if they have control of their dogs. Is that dog walking politely beside his owner, or is he dragging his owner down the street, ignoring all commands? Or, do you see another potential source of trouble up ahead? Sometimes you might see something you’d rather avoid. Use your best judgment and remove yourself and your dog from a potentially dangerous situation when you feel it’s necessary by crossing the street or making a turn. It’s also a good idea to explain yourself if you get close enough to another person you’re trying to avoid. Simply smile and say “He’s jumpy with other dogs,” or, “She gets loud when she meets new pups.” With open communication, the other party should understand kindly.
- Escalate a situation if one arises. Dogs will naturally sense your mood and anxiety level, so stay calm and lead by example. If an encounter with another person or dog starts to go south, the best idea is to pull your dog away and walk in the opposite direction. Getting involved in a heated argument with someone will only serve to rile up your dog and make things worse.
- Be careless when holding your dog’s leash. Simply having your dog on a leash isn’t always enough; controlling the leash and using it to lead the way can prove to be crucial. Take a break from texting or being glued to your phone as awareness of your surroundings, including people, dogs, cars and anything else in your vicinity is paramount to you and your dog’s safety. The last thing you want is for your dog to wrap his leash around someone’s legs, or for him to get tangled up with another dog’s leash (especially if that other dog isn’t very keen on sharing his personal space). Keep your dog’s leash short when in a busy area to give you more control and to keep him out of trouble.
- Punish your dog. Stay in control of your dog and you likely won’t have to discipline him. Even when you are changing course or preventing your dog from doing something wrong, a simple firm grip on the leash will do. By staying calm with a firm tone, you will communicate successfully with your dog and lead him in another direction.
Remember, being consistent is the best way to master any training-required skill, including dog walking. Start leash training your dog at a young age so that they have these skills down pat by the time they are ready to go on adventures with you! Following these tips will ensure that you and your pooch stay safe and have fun.