In general, going for a walk in the park with your dog is an enjoyable activity. But even what starts as a good experience can quickly turn into a bad day.
In this article, we have 10 recommendations for a better experience with your dog in public spaces and being a civilized dog owner that enjoys their time and lets others enjoy their time too.
1 – Keep your dog on the lead when necessary.
Your dog can be very easy going and trained but there are places and situations where it must be kept on the lead. If you see someone calling their dog and then it putting on the lead after noticing you and your dog approaching, it’s a clear signal that the other owner does not want the two dogs to approach each other. Probably, they have a good reason for it. Recall your dog and keep it on the lead.
2 – Control your dog if it becomes too rough with other dogs.
It’s ok and good for your dog to play with other dogs. Playing with other dogs will boost your dog’s social skills. Playing “dog wrestling” is not unusual for them even if this game may look rough.
However, if you notice that your dog’s game is getting more intense than usual or if the other dog looks stressed, it is a good idea to call your dog and let him settle a little bit or carry on with your walk.
A game that is too rough may escalate into a fight. Also, another dog may get overwhelmed and stressed by all the roughness with a possibility of starting to distrust stranger dogs. This will ruin the dog’s social skills.
3 – Keep an eye on other dogs and their owners.
Not everyone is a responsible dog owner, some people have dogs completely out of control that act like troublemakers. An overly excited dog without boundaries and no doggy manners can cause trouble with other dogs. Stay away from these people and their dogs.
4 – Clean after your dog.
Let me put it straight, if you are not willing to pick it up, just don’t get a dog, it’s as easy as that.
I understand that you may end up in a situation when you realize you have run out of bags but your dog decided to “go the extra mile” or your dog had an upset stomach and it’s uncollectible. Still, these scenarios are rare exceptions. It is very unpleasant to walk around and feel like walking on a minefield. Also, consider the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis for yourself and others.
5 – Off the lead only if the dog is trustworthy.
It seems obvious but not to everyone. If your dog has no recall and is completely unfocused on your commands, causes trouble with other dogs and bothers other people, well, work on your dog’s issues. Keep your dog on the lead in public spaces until its behaviour is trustworthy.
6 – Recall your dog if another dog owner asks you to.
When someone asks you to recall or hold your dog, don’t take it personally and start to explain how “friendly” your sweetheart is.
Probably these people are not concerned about the safety of their dogs but instead, they may be concerned for the safety of your dog as their dogs may have a short temper. They may be seriously allergic to dogs or your dog may be overly excited and at risk of causing a fight. Whatever the reason is, just take your dog and keep walking.
7 – Small dogs are still dogs.
The fact that your dog is small does not justify his or her aggressive or antisocial behaviour.
If your small dog provokes bigger dogs, don’t blame other dogs for your negligence as a dog owner. Observe the behaviour of your Yorkshire Terrier and ask yourself if you, or other people, would tolerate such behaviour from a Rottweiler. If the answer is no, treat your little sweety as it was a Rottweiler.
8 – Stay away from kids playgrounds.
Parks are not for kids or dogs only, but some areas are. Have reciprocal respect and keep your dog off the kids area. At the same time, keep your kid off the doggy area. If you happen to be both a parent and a dog owner, keep both minors under control in both areas. Remeber, your freedom ends where other’s freedom begins.
9 – Ask the owner before approaching the dog.
This is not only an act of courtesy but also a safety measure. You don’t know what type of behavioural problem that dog may have. Your way of approaching dogs may be completely wrong and consequently, you may scare the dog. When you don’t ask the owner if you can touch the dog, you put yourself at risk of getting a serious bite.
If you ask first, the owner may instruct you on how to approach the dog and, in case the answer is no, respect the owner’s will. He or she may have a good reason to not allow you to touch their dog.
Just because you like dogs, does not mean you have to touch every dog you meet.
10 – Be respectful of nature.
This last point does not only apply to dog owners but also to every park visitor and it should be applied everywhere (not solely in the park).
There are many weird people visiting parks. If you like wasting your time hyperventilating on laughing gas balloons, that’s your choice. But make sure you collect the canisters from the ground and bin them. (Seemed to be a huge issue in small London parks.)
The same applies to fast food packages and bottles of beer. Regarding the latest, it would be really appreciated if you avoid breaking them.
The same applies to illegal dumping. Near my place in Italy, there is a nice big open-air place where you can go with your dog. Sadly, some people and fishy building companies had the brilliant idea of dumping any sort of rubbish from TVs and washing machines to asbestos panels there.
If you lack civilization and you treat your place poorly don’t get upset and offended if then people judge it poorly.
What do you think about this list, is there something else regarding parks and dog owner ethics that you would like to suggest? Please, leave a comment below.
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Also, if you like the topic of dogs, please check my book ‘Before You Get a Dog’ by Simone Burani. You will find the essential knowledge written in simple language to have a great time with your pet.