We have talked about dog behavior here before. What we will be talking about now is DOG OWNER behavior. A perfectly behaved dog can have an owner that does not follow some basic etiquette that comes with being a respectful pet owner and it really gives dogs a bad reputation.
You would not think you would need to be a “seasoned” dog owner to have common sense. Yet there are some basic common courtesy type things that many pet owners just do not respect. Let’s talk about a couple:
It is never OK to walk your dog off leash. The only public area designed for off leash activity is the dog park; otherwise use your private enclosed property. It is likely not just rude but illegal to do otherwise. The responses that people think make it OK…”my dog is friendly”, “my dog listens to me”. Perhaps if these dog owners could understand the number of issues that this can cause to other pet owners as well as their own pet, we can reduce the incidents of this happening.
When other dogs see your dog, especially if your dog is approaching them off leash their behavior can change. The on-leash dog recognizes they have a restriction and that can give them a feeling of vulnerability. If another animal (dog or human) presents defensive or fearful energy your own dogs’ behavior can also change, it is an instinct. So, the norm for behavior is thrown out the window and this can cause a dangerous situation for the humans and the dogs.
For a moment consider what other dogs and humans might have experienced in their past. Dogs that have worked to overcome issues with fear around other dogs can digress from having made progress by having an altercation with an off-leash dog. These dogs and their owners are entitled to enjoy being out following the rules without the threat of an off-leash dog. There are many people that have had bad experiences with dogs and are fearful of them. An off-leash dog can be terrifying for them trying to enjoy a walk as well.
Good Petiquette On-Leash. Do not assume other people or dogs want to engage with you and your dog. Always ask a pet owner if they and their pet want to say hello. If you see an approaching owner and pet that are trying to re-route to avoid engagement try to be accommodating. When passing by walkers keep your pet on a short enough leash that they do not jump on the passing person…not everybody is a dog person.
Make sure your pet has tags just in case they get out. A dog getting loose from their owners’ home should be the exception. Owners need to be responsible for the care of their pets, this includes making sure they are safe and secure even when you are not home. If you have a gate, make sure it has a lock and is locked when you leave. If your dog digs under the fence or is a jumper and can jump over the fence YOU NEED TO MITIGATE THIS. If you are leaving your house to take your dog for a ride in the car, make sure they are secured in the car before you open the garage door. If you are opening your front door, make sure your dogs are secured or on a leash. So, let’s assume you have done everything right securing your home and something terrible happens and your pet gets out. They need to have a quick and easy way for a good Samaritan to get them safely back in your care. Being able to call you on a cell number listed on their tag is the best way to do this. It is great to have your dog chipped but please also make sure they have tags. It will make it that much easier for a stranger to call you instead of animal control.
Your pet is in danger if it is out too. It could be hit by a car, attacked by a wild animal. Frankly people will do anything to defend themselves or their pets up to and including macing or shooting your pet if they feel they are in danger.
Let’s Talk Poop. It is such a common problem…WHY? I live in a neighborhood that provides poop disposal stations stocked with free poop bags and people still don’t scoop their poop. This just gives your neighbors a bad taste in their mouth about dogs in general. The two previous examples of unattended dogs only perpetuate this problem. I am a crazy dog person and I actually look at poop pick up as an opportunity to see that everything in my pets’ body is working like it should…I know this is not the norm. The norm is that it is stinky to pick up poop…but come on people just do it.
In a nutshell DOGS ROCK. Let’s make sure that humans don’t make them look bad. We get these precious souls in our life and our responsibility is to care for them and keep them safe.
Do you have a story about bad Petiquette?