Living in a city is a wonderful thing, and I should know; I lived in New York City for 6 years and I’ve been soaking up sunny Los Angeles for the past 3 years. What do I love about living in a city? So many things, including the diversity, access to art and culture, amazing food, and always finding a new bookstore, coffee shop, or hidden corner to explore.
As a dog owner, I also know what it means to live in the city with a pooch. For one, I don’t have access to a fenced-in backyard, so that means that my dog Wade and I spend a lot of time pounding the pavement. Secondly, we’re surrounded by lots of people — and dogs! On our walks we are always crossing paths with new and familiar faces, and when we’re hanging out at home it’s not uncommon to hear a furry neighbor “greeting” the mailman with a bark.
While I’ve made an effort to become a responsible and courteous urban dog parent, I often see less-than-polite behavior from the people and pets around me. With that in mind I’ve put together a list of city dog etiquette rules that will make living in a metropolis with your pup safer and more pleasant for you, your dog, and your fellow residents.
Rule #1: Keep Your Dog On A Leash
Even if your dog is perfectly content to amble along behind you, you should still use a leash. It will not only keep your pal safe from traffic and prevent them from running off to investigate other dogs, playing children, or spilled trash, in many cities it’s also the law. Keep your leash to six feet in length or less.
Rule #2: Train Your Dog To Walk On A Leash
A dog who is pulling, lunging, or jumping while on a leash can be a danger to themselves, to you, and your neighbors. Train your dog to “heel” by your side so that you can walk safely and comfortably past other walkers and dogs. Other useful commands for walks? “Sit,”“stay,” “leave it,” and “come.”
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Rule #3: Ask Before Letting Your Dog Interact With Other Dogs
It may be tempting to let your dog approach, sniff, and say “hello,” to other dogs, but you should always ask first. The reason for this is that you never know the other dog’s situation; maybe they were recently bitten, and they are feeling a little gun shy around other dogs; maybe they are sick; maybe they are aggressive. For your dog’s safety and the other dog’s safety, always ask the other owner if it’s OK to say “hello.” This rule is true for people, as well (see Rule #6).
Rule #4: Pick Up After Your Dog
No brainer? You’d be surprised. I regularly come across abandoned dog poop on my walks, many times smack-dab in the middle of a sidewalk. This is not only inconsiderate to other walkers and frankly, a bit gross, it also poses a safety hazard to other dogs and people as diseases and parasites are often shed in dog feces. Pick up your dog’s poop, put it in a bag, knot the top, and toss it in a trashcan.
Rule #5: Make Sure Your Dog Is Allowed Where You’re Going
City-dwellers love to take their dogs everywhere — coffee shops, clothing boutiques, even restaurants, where I’ve often seen dogs posted up under tables while their owners dined. While it’s great to socialize your dog and take them out and about in the world, make sure that your dog is allowed where you’re going before you leave the house. Leaving your dog tied to a lamp post puts them at risk for being stolen or getting injured, and you should never leave your dog unattended in a car.
RELATED STORY: 5 Steps To A Safe Drive With Your Dog
Rule #6: Remember That Not Everyone Likes Dogs
If you own a dog, it might be hard to imagine that someone wouldn’t love them as much as you do. But the truth is that some people are afraid of dogs, some people are allergic to dogs, and some people just plain don’t like them. If you’re in a public space with your dog, you should remember this. Don’t allow your dog to say “hello” to strangers without first asking if it’s OK. If you’re in a crowded space, keep your dog by your side; don’t let them jump up, sniff, or otherwise bother the people around you.
Rule #7: Don’t Let Your Dog Bark Excessively
I’m always amazed when I learn that a dog who is barking excessively in a yard is doing so with their owner right inside the house. (FYI: I’ve learned this because I’ve confronted those owners before!) Living in a city means that you are probably living pretty close to your neighbors. A dog who is barking excessively is not only a public nuisance, it may also mean that the dog needs some help or attention. Dogs bark for a number of reasons, including boredom, anxiety, fear, hunger, illness… the list goes on. Train your dog not to bark, and if you ever hear a dog barking excessively, go and check-in on them. If you see that no one is home, don’t hesitate to contact your local animal control; the dog may be in trouble.
Do you live in a city? Do you have any etiquette rules to add to this list? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. Check it out at PetPlus.com