Whether you live in an urban or suburban environment, as a pet owner you likely walk your dog on a leash at some point. There is a protocol for dog walking that responsible dog owners apply. Do you?
Leashing Your Pooch
In most cities or towns, there is some type of ordinance about leashing your dog in public areas. This protects both people and dogs. By keeping your dog leashed, you don’t have to worry about him darting into traffic after a runaway squirrel, skateboard or wayward ball. Even if your dog is perfectly trained you never know what might set him off. Keeping him on a leash will prevent this, and it is the law. Additionally, some people are afraid of or simply don’t like dogs. While you might find it adorable that your lovable Lucy jumps up to say hi to strangers, if you encounter a non-dog person (and there are plenty of them) you could be in for trouble. Your fellow citizen would likely have the right to call the cops and report you for having your dog off leash. Play it safe and keep your dog leashed at all times.
Other laws concern picking up after your dog. Generally speaking, in nearly every town or city, there will be signs posted about picking up after your dog or facing monetary penalties. It’s not just the law but good etiquette to clean up after your dog. After all, who wants a neighborhood filled with feces? It doesn’t just ugly up the neighborhood but is unsanitary as well. All sorts of different types of parasites live in feces and dogs can pick up diseases from other dogs’ waste.
Aside from leashing your dog and cleaning up after him, you must also be licensed. Just like there are laws for leashing your dog there are also laws about keeping your dog licensed. Police officers have the right to check for licenses and fine owners for dogs without proper identification. Generally you can go to your city’s official website, search for “dog license” and find the application information.
The fee for license registration is usually nominal (under $25), and the city often uses the database of licenses to determine the dog population. “That information is used to determine how many pets are in an area and thus influences budget allocations for animal shelters,” says Jennifer Panton, president of United Action for Animals. “Aside from it being the law to license your dog, it also provides pertinent information to properly fund homeless animals.”
Learning to “Leave It”
If your dog is going to be a well-behaved pooch in public, then he should be trained to understand basic commands. It is very difficult for your dog to behave well on leash and interact with other dogs and people if he doesn’t know the commands “Sit,” “Come” and “Leave it.” These commands are important not just for other dogs’ and people’s safety but for your own dog. In case your dog comes upon an aggressive dog it is important to be able to say “Leave it” and have the command obeyed.
Additionally, if you and your dog are somehow separated, you can feel confident he will return to you with a well-practiced return command. Most local animal shelters or even large chain pet stores offer basic puppy/dog training. It will be both fun and helpful for you and your dog.
Being a Great Dog Owner and Neighbor
Part of being a responsible dog owner is being a good dog neighbor. No one wants to live next door to someone who allows their dog to urinate on flowerbeds or run all over another’s property. Follow the golden rule: Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.
In urban areas you can be considerate of neighbors as well. For example, it is always polite to ask fellow dog walkers if their dog is friendly. If the dog isn’t friendly, you can avoid a confrontation, and if he is friendly, perhaps you have made a new friend. “I always appreciate it when people ask if my dog is friendly or not,” dog owner Debbie Baer says. ”It’s a common courtesy and anything to prevent a possible fight is a good thing.”
Walking your dog should be a leisurely exercise for both you and your dog. By following simple logic and common courtesy, you will find that the dog world and non-dog world can coexist just fine.
Reported by Susan Cava