To many people who haven’t tried it yet, walking a dog may seem like either an idyllic activity or an easy way to earn money. How hard can it be to walk with a furry companion and enjoy the scenery, right? Many dogs enjoy walking, after all – especially when everyone follows the proper dog walking etiquette.
Unfortunately, not a lot of dogs instinctively understand that there are rules to follow while sharing public spaces and roads with others. Most pups need to undergo training and practice first before they can become pleasant walking companions that don’t cause a lot of distress to their walkers. So today I’m sharing some tips on dog walking etiquette so you and your dog, and everyone else, can enjoy a walk.
Tools for Training and Walking
Because following socially constructed dog walking etiquette doesn’t come naturally to animals, you’ll need to make use of a few tips and tools to help train and walk your dogs.
First, you need a leash that can be connected to the pet’s collar or harness. You’ll also find it useful to bring treats, poop bags, collapsible water bowls, flashlights for low-light situations, wet wipes for when you need to clean up the pup, and a pet first aid kit.
If you’re seriously considering setting up a dog walking business, it’s worth investing in customizable branded dog collars, leashes, and harnesses that your charges can wear while you’re out and about. This will help you promote your business to the people that you’ll come across during your walks.
In addition to having the right implements, it’s also important to take note of and observe the following rules when walking with your pet or your clients’ dogs:
Keep the Dog Leashed
One of the first rules of dog walking etiquette is to always keep your dog leashed. Whenever you’re walking a dog, you’re expected to keep them leashed and under your supervision at all times. Keeping a pet leashed while outdoors will help you remain in control of the pet’s interactions with other dogs, people, or vehicles. After all, the world outside can be a dangerous place for a dog.
Indeed, leashing your dog will help you ensure that your canine companion will not get lost or injured in case their curiosity gets the best of them. It will also enable you to keep hold of the pet in case the dog reacts unfavorably to other dogs or people that you encounter on your walks.
Clean Up After the Pet
Another important part of dog walking etiquette is cleaning up after your pet. Cleaning up after a pet is part and parcel of dog walking. Every owner or dog walker is expected to scoop their dog’s poop in case the dog does their business in shared or public spaces.
By containing your dog’s messes, you can help prevent the spread of diseases and parasites to other dogs, maintain the look and appeal of your neighborhood and the public spaces surrounding it, and build yourself up as a responsible pet owner or dog walker.
As such, don’t forget to bring poop bags and wet wipes whenever you take a walk with a pup. These tools will help you make cleanups a breeze, even if you have to do it from a busy sidewalk.
Be Mindful of Where You’re Going
Trespassing is a no-no when you’re walking with a pet. Unless you got express permission to go into somebody’s yard or garden, keep it out of your itinerary and stick to public and shared spaces.
Also, if you’re passing by private property, make an effort to prevent the pet from peeing on your neighbor’s lawn decorations and fences. Imagine if these things were yours and someone’s dog pees on them. You probably won’t feel good that someone is disrespecting your property in this way.
Exercise Spatial and Situational Awareness
Being aware of your and your pup’s surroundings and personal space at all times is another key part of dog walking etiquette. Dogs have their own personalities. Some dogs are quite welcoming of people and other canines, while others would much rather be left in the company of their family members.
If your dog or your client’s dog isn’t very friendly, be vigilant during your walks and prevent unwanted encounters between them and strangers. If the dog you’re walking is friendly, you should still look out for roaming dogs that might spell trouble for them.
If you live near high-traffic roads, exercise caution every time you approach the road or when you use the sidewalks. Also, beware of deserted paths, roads and alleys that might seem unsafe, and areas with a lot of wildlife.
Be Respectful to Others
One of the most important parts of dog walking etiquette is to be respectful of others. Just like you wouldn’t want someone to approach your dog or your client’s dog out of the blue, don’t approach other dogs and their walkers without asking for permission first.
So, be respectful of the people and animals that you share the space with, even the wildlife that you might see in your neighborhood park. Don’t let the pet run after squirrels, cats, or other dogs, but respect their space and keep the pup on a tight leash. Letting the dog run after other animals can lead to accidents, injuries, and unwanted stress for all parties involved.
Final Thoughts on Dog Walking Etiquette
If you’re an aspiring dog walker or if you have a pet who’s not yet used to exploring the world while on a leash, you have work to do before you can truly enjoy stress-free strolls with your canine companion. With a few tools, a bit of training, and a basic awareness of the etiquette that you and the dog you’re walking are expected to follow, you’ll be able to enjoy the experience and ensure that the people and pets around you are also doing the same.