However, I do go on a lot of dog walks, and living in the city as I do, they are mostly urban dog walks. I've owned dogs for 15 years and in that time I've seen plenty of dog walking mistakes, and made a few myself I'm sure. Here are my ten tips for urban dog walking ettiquette, though I think they'd work in the country too.
1) Use a Leash at All Times:
This might be controversial for some, but for me it really is a must. None of my dogs particularly like being approached by off leash dogs, and one, Bob the bulldog, might bite a strange dog that approached him. I have had countless incidents when an off leash dog bounded up to us on a walk. Thankfully I've always been able to prevent any major scuffles but there have been times when it was close.
2) Don't use an extension leash (except in specific circumstances):
|The beach is one place I think an extension leash is appropriate though I'm not using one here.|
After no leash at all, extension leashes are my number one pet peeve. I think they have a purpose, on beaches or in wide open areas or when you are training for recall. However, I have seen them used on crowded city streets and at least once at a packed street fair. In such situations an extension leash is a bad, or worse, then no leash at all.
3) If You Don't Use A Leash Have Perfect Recall:
I get that there are dogs that need off leash running time. I can also see where it is appropriate, even in urban areas, I've participated in the early morning off leash time in Prospect Park in Brooklyn once, I would have done it more often but we live in Jersey and its just too far. However, to participate I think your dog needs to have excellent recall, or be the type to stay right by your side at all times. Ping for instance has an invisible leash that keeps her glued to me or my husband wherever we are.
4) Ask Before You Pet
|This very polite boy asked before petting Ping.|
Another problem I have is with people approaching my dogs,I get it, I have a lot of them and they are cute, without asking first. While four of my dogs are friendly and comfortable with greetings. Bob is not. There have been times when without asking people have come up to Bob to pet him without asking. Not OK.
5) Clean Up-This should be obvious yet its a major problem in my current neighborhood. It's infuriating!
6) Stay Alert for Food Scraps/Chicken Bones-This is a big problem where I live now. I've had to pull many a chicken bone out of a doggie mouth. I have trained them in leave it, but they aren't 100% and we live in a chicken scrap land mine. So I keep my eyes open and start to distract before we approach the desired object. Its also a great idea to bring treats along so you can reward good behavior.
7) Consider Carrying Your Small Dog In Very Crowded Situations:
|This Picture was taken on a day we were going to a street fair with Ping. We carried her most of the time.|
I love taking my dogs everywhere, its one of the reasons I have smaller dogs since its easier to bring them places in the city. However, I've noticed with my smallest guy Mr. Tuvok, that while he is friendly and social and loves accompanying us he can get a little overwhelmed in vert crowded situations, like street fairs. Plus he is so small that pedestrians at a packed event might not see him and cold step on him. I always pick him up in very crowded places, and yes I know some people dissaprove of carrying small dogs but I think their portability is one of their best features.
8) Consider Your Dogs Age and Physical Condition:
|Ping and Tuvok riding in their stroller at the NYC 2016 Easter Parade|
I have three young dogs and two seniors. They have very different staminas. I do sometimes walk all of them together, but when I do so its a short walk and I let the seniors set the speed. If I want to go on a marathon hike I take the youngsters. We also have a stroller that we use in certain situations where the walk is long or the event is crowded.
9) Please, please, please, Don't Let Your Dog Chase or Annoy Stray Cats
This is the dog walking mistake that I've seen that most infuriates me. On at least five occasions I have witnessed dog owners encouraging their dog to chase, bark at, and terrorize stray cats in our local park or neighborhood. As a cat lover it infuriates me, and its unsafe for all parties involved. If you don't like cats fine, though personally I think theres something wrong with you, but theres no excuse for bothering them.
10) and 11) Don't Be Afraid to Dress Up For Walks (If Thats Your Thing) and Take Pictures of Your Dogs on Walks You'll Want the Memories.
|This picture was taken about three years ago when I was first getting really into vintage dressing. I miss my Norbert and Tubby so much and its great to have these pictures from our walks together.|
Granted this piece of advice is for me only. I love my vintage style and I always wear it and dog walks are no exception. I certainly make sure to wear comfortable shoes, but I regularly walk my dogs in dresses and hats. It certainly doesn't make the walk any harder and it makes me happy. Granted on evening walks I'm often in my pajamas with my hair in curlers.