I watched out the picture window of my home as a neighbor strolled down the street with her dog. Staring down at her cell phone, her dog was on an extendable flexi lead meandering from side to side as she slowly continued. Her dog wandered into my yard and proceeded to urinate on my mailbox. Without looking up once, my neighbor continued along allowing her dog to lead the way. I shook my head and said out loud to my dogs “do some people just not get it?” If you’re new to dog ownership or have somehow managed to miss the code of conduct, here’s a quick breakdown for you!
#1. Never allow your dog to urinate or defecate on someone else’s property. This seems pretty common sense, but I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve witnesses someone allowing their dog to urinate, for example, on a city trashcan, the corner of a building or in a neighbors yard. This rule is pretty simple: if the area is not a designated dog-potty are and it does not belong to you, do not permit your dog to potty there. It’s just rude! A responsible dog owner does not allow their dog to potty wherever it feels like it.
#2. Keep your dog on leash, always, unless you have 100% reliable off-leash control of your animal or are in a designated fenced in dog-play area. Just because your dog is friendly does not give you the right to infringe on other people’s space or comfort level. The most irritating thing to me is when a friendly dog comes to bother my leashed (or un-leashed) dogs who are being obedient and staying by my side. We’re minding our own business when suddenly I hear someone call out “don’t worry, he’s friendly!” as their dog barrels towards us. Newsflash: I’m not worried. I’m irritated that you have no control of your dog. A responsible dog owner has control of their dog at all times both on, or off leash.
#3. Always consider whether or not it’s appropriate to interact with someone else’s dogs. You wouldn’t suddenly go up to a stranger in public and start touching their baby without their permission. I’ve worked hard to train my dogs to lay quietly at my feet when I’m out in public at a restaurant. It’s not appropriate to distract or otherwise interact with other people’s dogs without permission, especially when they’re focused and in working mode. A responsible dog owner is dog-aware and WILL ask “Is it OK if I say hi to your dogs?” or just ignore them altogether.
#4. If we are in a tight space together, like an elevator, vet clinic lobby, or the shopping line at the pet store, keep your paws to yourself. Responsible dog owners have their dogs in a sit-stay or a down-stay next to them when in tight spaces. If your dog doesn’t yet have the obedience control to keep his paws to himself then it’s your responsibly to keep your dog on a very short leash. Just like I don’t like some stranger right up on me in a tight public space, neither do most dogs. Responsible dog owners maintain great control of their dogs in crowded places with other animals.
Dee Hoult is the CEO of Applause Your Paws, South Florida’s largest privately owned pet dog training company, and Miami’s number one user rated dog-training company on yelp.com.