Owning a dog can be a highly rewarding experience and going out on walks with your beloved furry friend can be the highlight of your day. Everybody knows that your dog should be exercised daily and yet some dog owners are simply unaware of the unwritten code of conduct when it comes to being out in public with your dog. On one half an hour dog walk this morning in a popular dog walking spot I came across several owners responsible for giving us dog walkers a bad reputation. During this walk I saw:
So what is the unwritten code of conduct I was talking about?
1. Dogs should ONLY be let off the lead if you know they are going to go back to you straight away.
Poor recall is quite a simple issue to fix and yet there were about 6 dogs who either disobeyed their owners by not returning or weren’t even correctly recalled in the first place. You may be mistaken in thinking that it is a dogs right to run around freely in a public park and I too as an owner cherish the opportunity to let my dogs off the lead however I understand that not all dogs are going to be friendly with others. As a professional dog walker I am responsible for the care of several reactive dogs who are nervous around other dogs. These dogs are kept on lead unless in a secure, quiet area where I know they cannot be threatened and yet it seems to be my fault when those dogs snap or growl at an out of control off-lead dog who is bounding towards them because their owners are 100 metres behind them. This leads me to rule number two.
2. If you see a dog coming towards you that is on a lead, call your dog back and put them on a lead too.
These dogs may not just be on a lead because they are reactive and likely to snap, they could be in training, recovering from injury or elderly and struggle to exercise properly. Give those dogs space and don’t allow your dog to run up to them unless the owner says otherwise.
3. Be respectful and courteous of non-dog walkers
Believe it or not, there are a select group of people who don’t like dogs and it’s not fair to allow your dogs to run around uncontrollably in any public space, whether it’s primarily used as a dog walking area or not. I know it’s impossible to understand that there could be someone who doesn’t love your precious furry best friend but the truth is there are people who are scared of dogs and we shouldn’t be allowing dogs to run up to people, jump up at them or run into them. This once again comes down to training and if your dog doesn’t understand that these things are wrong then it’s time to either invest in a decent positive dog trainer or keep your dog on the lead until they do. This rule is especially important as you and your dog can be reported for having a dangerous dog even if your dog is only being overly friendly if someone else considers your dog’s behaviour threatening.
4. Get off your phone!
I am a so called ‘Millennial’ who admittedly relies quite heavily on my phone and yet when I am out on a dog walk, my phone remains firmly inside my pocket until the dog walk is over. Safety is important in this day and age and it’s very important to have a form of communication on you in an emergency however what is the reliance with being permanently attached to the screen that we are not paying any attention to what our dogs are doing. Instead of texting or reading Facebook, interact with your dog and cherish your time together.
5. And finally, PLEASE pick up after your dog.
This rule should go without saying and yet there are STILL people who don’t pick up after their dogs. Believe me non-dog owners, it frustrates us too as it’s us that gets the blame for others laziness. There is no excuse for not cleaning up after your own dog, it’s something that goes hand in hand with having a dog. Never go on a walk without being prepared, make sure there are spares in every pocket and pay attention to what your dog is doing.
We all want the best from our dogs. By following these rules we are giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy their walks with their dogs without stressing.
Can you think of any other rules that I haven’t included here that you think are important? Add them in the comments below!