Helpful Tips for Dog Walking Etiquette
Unless your lucky enough to own acres of land where your dog can run wild and free, you should understand that when taking your dog for a walk certain dog walking etiquette is usually followed. In this post we outline some of the top tips to keeping you and your pooch in good standing when walking in public.
What to expect on dog walks?
This may seem like an obvious one but many new dog owners don’t realise what their dog will do during their walk. Its good knowing what to expect out on your walks and in turn help improve your dog walking etiquette. Its common for dogs to be inquisitive, it’s a natural response from being in a new place. Here are some of the things to expect during your dog walk.
- People who may not like dogs.
- Your dog will sniff everything
- Your dog will mark their territory
- Unfriendly things your dog could eat
- A wet muddy dog
- Your dog may need water, depending on weather and duration
- Other dogs that may be smaller, nervous, on heat or aggressive
- Private land (sticking to the public areas is important)
- Small children or older people
- Animals such as rabbits, deer and farming livestock
Use a Leash
This is one of the most important ones as it allows you to control your dog when needed. Even if your dog can run off lead in most places without getting into trouble It is still best to always carry a leather leash in case you need to control them. Your dog may have great recall or be cute, fluffy and harmless but other people don’t know this and some may be nervous around dogs, especially small children.
If you want your dog to have a bit more freedom but still want to keep control of them, then a retractable leash can allow you to do both. If you intend on taking your dog for a walk where families with small children are then it is best to keep them on a leash, although most busy locations will enforce this anyway, so remember to check.
Off lead dog walking etiquette
Having your dog off lead can be a great feeling. There’s nothing better than watching your dog running free, tongue hanging out and generally doing what dogs are supposed to do. However, despite how wonderful this seems, off lead etiquette is something that should still be considered.
Before allowing your dog off lead you must ensure that their recall is perfect, so that in the event you want them to come back to you urgently its possible. One thing to remember is that just because your dog is able to come back to you when practising in an empty park or field, it does not mean they will come back if they see another dog. As you can imagine dogs are highly attracted to other dogs and its common for owners to think they have control of their pooch until they run off after another dog or cat or deer or rabbit…. you get the point.
Pick up your dog’s poop
This has become a major issue in the past few decades with the increase in dog owners. The one thing you can count on your dog doing on a walk is going to the toilet. Because this has become such an issue many public places have enforced fines for anyone seen to be leaving their dogs poop on the ground. Many of the places you would take a dog for a walk will have designated dog bins for such an item.
There is nothing worse than going for a nice stroll and suddenly smelling something horrible on the sole of your shoe. What’s even worse is when you don’t notice it until you get back into your car or step into your house.
Many dog owners don’t realise that their dogs poop contains millions of bacteria that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting in humans even to the point of serious illness. Remember just pick it up!!
So, your walking along a beautiful country path and you take a turn onto a field, it appears that your still on public land but actually you have walked onto a privately-owned field. Its an easy thing to do and its not always obvious what is private and what is public.
The best thing to do is make sure you know your route before you leave home. Its good to have adventures hiking in the great outdoors, but land owners are not always going to want to share their land with others. It may be that they are using that land to plant crops or rear animals. Many animals such as pigs or sheep are prone to heart attacks if startled by a loose dog and so farmers take a dim view of trespassing dog walkers.
Remember to check you route and keep your dog on lead when around livestock. For the odd few land owners that don’t appreciate walkers, some are happy to let you trot around the outside of their field as long as you and your dog stick to the path. If your thinking of walking your dog across private land on legal footpaths or bridleways then its good to get some information to make sure you are following the law correctly. There is a good article written by the Kennel Club to advise landowners of their own rights and how to handle dog walkers on their land. Here is the link check it out. Landowner Guidance.
This is something that I have learnt over the years of owning dogs and its something that comes in handy a lot of the time. Reading the mannerisms of other people can help distinguish whether they are going to mind a dog running up to them and saying hello.
It is good practice to recall your dog when around older people or young children as they can certainly do some damage when running at full speed. As your approaching someone check to see if they are slowing down or walking slightly to the left or right as this can be a sign of nervousness and it is then best to call your dog over, put them on the lead or make them heal. If you approach a dog on a lead, assume that dog could be nervous or aggressive and may not want to be greeted.
Unequal meetings on-lead and off lead
Dogs like to be on a level playing field, that’s why smaller dogs tend to bark at larger ones to tell them to stay away as they feel unequal. If you meet a dog that is on the lead and your dog is off lead, correct etiquette would be to put your dog onto a lead so that they can greet each other as equals.
Obviously, you should still assume that the dog on lead could be nervous or aggressive. In this situation its best to gain eye contact with the owner and ask if its OK, this ensures there are no surprises in store when they meet. Similarly, it is good to let your dog off lead around other dogs who are loose. This is both so you don’t get dragged around and to allow them to be equal to the other dogs.
Always check to make sure you can have your dog off lead in that area, just because other dog owners are letting their dogs off it doesn’t mean you can too. For more information on walking your dog off lead we produced a great post on of lead walking with some helpful guidance on what to expect and how to train your dog appropriately. Here is the link. How to walk your dog off lead.
Engage with other dog walkers
To finish off, this tip is something you should always be doing. OK so not everyone wants a chat when taking there dog for a walk but a simple “hello” is sufficient enough. Other dog walkers may ask about your dog so return the favour and ask about their dog too.
The great thing about engaging with your fellow dog walkers is that you both have something instantly in common. Asking questions regarding your dog can help to pick up extra pieces of helpful advice, as they may have come across a solution to a problem or be able to answer a question you have.
I hope you enjoyed reading our helpful tips for dog walking etiquette and remember to have a look at our website for more helpful advice on dog walking.