One of my biggest pet peeves (no pun intended) when it comes to walking dogs in the city, is irresponsible dog owners. They’re not irresponsible in the way that you might think. They’re not starving their dogs to death, enrolling them in secret doggie fight clubs, or making them dress up like tiny little ballerinas because they think it’s cute (I’ll save that one for another time).
I’m talking about the dog owners who don’t practice basic “dog walking etiquette”. I know, this is something you’ve probably never heard of, but if you’re a responsible dog owner in the city, then chances are you’re already living by these rules.
If you’re not, then pay close attention and take notes my little baklava.
Rule #1: Always Ask If The Other Dog Is Cool
Always approach each meeting with caution. Not fear — caution. Never assume that the other dog has been properly trained or is as friendly and well-mannered as your dog. Just because your dog is excited to meet the dog, doesn’t mean that other dog is as eager to meet your dog.
The reality is that some dogs have never been socialized and as a result, may become aggressive when meeting a new dog. If either your dog or the other dog appears uneasy, then that’s a good sign to walk away. Don’t force the meeting.
Rule #2: Reveal The Issue Before It Becomes An Even Bigger Issue
Being a responsible dog owner is not just about protecting the health and well-being of your dog, but it’s also about protecting the health and well-being of ALL of the dogs that you come into contact with.
Look, unless you’re Leona Helmsley (or WAS Leona Helmsley…well, you get the point), you don’t have millions of dollars to throw away on vet bills that could’ve easily been avoided.
So, if a visit to the vet upsets your wallet, then extend that courtesy to others. If your dog has a contagious illness, don’t keep it to yourself. Share that information immediately!
One dog owner paying a hefty vet bill doesn’t have to turn into two dog owners paying hefty vet bills (pardon me as I dodge a flurry of rotten tomatoes while listening to a soundtrack of angry ‘boos and hisses’ from the veterinarian section — tough crowd).
Rule #3: Put The Damn Phone Away!
This is possibly one of most irritating behaviors of an irresponsible dog owner. Whatever you’re texting about ain’t nearly as important as the safety of your companion. It boggles my mind how many times per day I watch dog owners and “professional” dog walkers walk across the street waaay behind their dog meanwhile they’re texting.
Here in New York City, I’ve witnessed dogs on the verge of no holds barred street fights as their humans walked in a deep trance, practicing the millennial art of meditative texting. By the time they realized what was happening to their dog, the damage had already been done. Don’t text and
drive walk dogs.
Rule #4: If You Liked It Then You Should’ve Put A Leash On It!
Outside of the fact that most states have strict leash laws which prohibit unleashed dogs in public areas, it’s also irresponsible and extremely dangerous. While in the country, you can let your dog roam freely — the world is their toilet, but we ain’t in Kansas no mo’ Toto. In the city, there isn’t much room for humans to walk, let alone dogs.
I’ve seen a person trip over an unleashed dog simply because the sidewalk was so crowded that they couldn’t see the lil’ dude. The crazy part was how upset the dog owner got with the person who tripped and fell to the ground. These accidents also happen when people walk their dogs with long leashes. So, be courteous to your fellow pedestrians and keep your dog on a leash…a short leash!
Rule #5: Pick A Side Any Side
There’s nothing worse than a sidewalk Nazi. These people are under the impression that they own the sidewalk. They’ll either refuse to walk along the curb or they’ll allow their dog to drag them from one side of the sidewalk to the other — zig-zag, make abrupt stops, or walk in circles. For dog owners sharing the sidewalk with you, who actually have control of their dogs, this can be a nuisance and downright dangerous.
I remember when I was 15 and learning how to drive. My grandmother gave me a piece of advice that I never forgot.
“Even if you’re obeying all of the laws and driving safely, it’s all of the other drivers on the road who aren’t driving safely that you have to worry about.”
Rule #6: Scoop The Poop!
Just do it you selfish slob! I still love you 😉
Being a good dog owner in the city, is being a good citizen in the city. My philosophy is a simple one:
“Your dog should be a welcomed guest, NOT an unwelcome nuisance.”
By following these basic rules of city dog etiquette, you can avoid the heartache of expensive city fines, unnecessary vet bills, and a crap load of drama. And you might even make a few friends along the way.
And that’s one to grow on.