What's the best way to help your dog make good decisions in your home day in, day out? A walk. A dog-walking habit helps to reinforce your relationship with your dog. A walk helps your dog to burn off energy. And, a walk helps to expose your dog to new sights, sounds and smells, and that can help your dog to think, learn and grow.
So everyone should walk dogs (and I even have tips about dog-walking gear you can use to get started).
But not everyone walks their dogs in the right way.
In fact, there are plenty of people out there who make poor dog-walking decisions that impact my ability to walk my dog safely.
We're talking etiquette here. These are my top 5 rules all dog walkers should follow.
1. Keep the dog leash on.Many cities (including mine) have rules concerning leashes in public places. Those rules are designed to keep dogs out of private yards and out of the roadways. In short, they're rules that are made to keep your dog safe. And, they are rules that make dogs a little more appealing to non-dog people.
Every walk should begin with a lead clipped to a harness or a collar. And that leash should remain clipped until the dog is inside the home again. If you're not a fan of using leashes, walk your dog on your own property. Or head to a designated area (such as an off-leash dog park) to exercise your dog. But don't assume that all public places are great spaces for off-leash work. They are not.
2. Do not expect a meet and greet.I've written a little about this before, but my dogs are not prepared to meet your dog (or any dog) while we're out on a walk. This is especially true of Sinead. She is small, she has some fear issues and she cannot handle the idea of a stranger dog running at her face when she is on a leash and she cannot get away.
It doesn't matter to me that your dog is friendly. Mine is not. Yelling "He's friendly!" doesn't help. Keeping your dog away from mine certainly does help.
If you'd like your dog to hang out with other dogs, head to the dog park. Meet other dog-friendly people at the dog park and have your own at-home play groups. Or schedule group walks with another person who has a dog you know and trust.
But please. Do not use your walk to socialize your dog with other dogs.