Dog etiquette for dog owners or how not to be a dumb a$$

A well-mannered dog and an understanding of dog etiquette allows you the ability to take your dog wherever you go.

By Laura Pakis, Certified Dog Trainer and Professional Blogger,

Many of us consider dogs a part of the family — but, like some parents, dog owners don’t always understand the proper boundaries for their dogs.

Yes, you love your dog, and you want to take them with you wherever you go. Unless your dog is well-behaved around people and other pets, you really should reconsider.  You may want to work on their behavior before taking them in public.

Here’s some guidelines on becoming a considerate and responsible dog owner.

Walk your dog on a leash

Your dog may be well-behaved off leash, but a leash protects your dog from the unexpected. You never know if something will spook your dog into running into harm’s way.  And it creates a sense of comfort for anyone or any dog you encounter.

Respect other pets and pet parents

Your dog may be friendly, but that doesn’t mean all dogs are.  Make it a habit to ask if it’s okay for your dog to say ‘hello’ before approaching another dog Each dog is unique and remembering that every dog reacts differently in new situations fosters a more positive, pet community for everyone.

For those fellow dog owners who insists “My dog loves every dog!” Don’t bother trying to convince the owner that your dog isn’t.  Walk your dog onto the grass and have them sit with their back to the oncoming dog.   If the owner doesn’t take the hint, say Hello and explain you’re training your dog to stay focused amid distractions.

Since this has become such an immense problem you may want to purchase a bandana that reads “DON’T PET ME” or use a yellow ribbon as described in the Yellow Dog Project.

Keep your dog greeting quick and positive

Train your dog to greet others in a calm manner. Teach them to sit when the doorbell rings or when the door is open.  Limit greeting others to only when they’re under control.  You may even want to teach the “SAY HI” command to further explain to your dog how to greet guests.

Don’t yell if your dog’s enthusiasm gets the best of them and jumps and licks your guests.  It will only hasten her excitement. Apologize to your guests (even if they don’t seem to mind) and calmly move your dog away.

Please don’t bring your dog somewhere uninvited or unannounced. It may not be what you want but wait for an explicit invitation rather than asking — if they’re comfortable with the idea, people will usually be sure to mention it with the original invite.

Don’t allow your dog to jump on people or other dogs

A jumpy dog can be intimidating to anyone, but if the dog outweighs you or is literally face-to-face with you it could lead to injury.

Teach your dog OFF or DOWN means keep your feet on the ground.  You don’t want them to have a reputation in the neighborhood for being that uncontrollable, jumpy dog.

Clean up after your dog

Dog waste carries bacteria and parasites, like hookworms. These parasites can be passed to other dogs if sniffed, touched or ingested. And, people may come into contact with these parasites and experience some sickness as a result.

Walk your dog close to curbs and encourage them to relieve himself there; eventually, doing so should become second nature. If they start sniffing around someone’s property—a bike chained to a signpost or a child’s abandoned toys on the sidewalk—pull them gently but firmly away while telling them “LEAVE IT”.

Always keep a couple of bags with you to pick up any solid waste.  Should your dog experience poop that’s too soft to pick up, carry a water bottle so you can rinse away the mess.

Control your dog’s barking

Some barking is normal for a dog but barking while others are trying to enjoy their meal or continuous barking is intimidating to some people and annoying to others.

If no amount of distraction can deter your dog, work on manners and obedience skills such as teaching the command QUIET before your next outing together.

If you get a noise complaint, address it calmly and don’t blame the beagle down the hall or another tenant’s loud television. Promise your neighbor that you’ll investigate solutions (such as bark-activated spray collar or a midday dog walker) that will keep your noisy pup in check.

If your dog destroys someone’s property, own up to it

Another point to consider comes from the website of the American Humane Society: When your dog does something to upset or inconvenience another person, apologize for both of you. “Shrugging it off as an overreaction or a personal slight will not improve your dog’s behavior and may negatively impact your reputation in the community,” notes the “Etiquette for Dog Owners article on the American Humane Society.

Teach your dog obedience

The sooner your dog learns basic manners– sit, heel, leave it, off & quiet—the happier and safer you’ll both be.  By doing so, you will have created a line of communication between you and your dog.

These guidelines are necessary so that others may feel comfortable, whether or not they like animals. Following them will ensure that everyone, (yourself and your dog included), will always have a positive experience!

For more information consider reading, Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette: The Definitive Guide to Manners for Pets and Their People” (Adams Media)