Dog-Walking Etiquette: The Rules of the Sidewalk

For most dogs, going for a walk is the highlight of their day—so many new things to sniff, so much sunshine to enjoy, and a whole crew of exciting new people they might meet! Taking your dog for frequent walks is canine care 101, so it’s important to be familiar with and practice proper dog-walking etiquette.

Many of the fundamental manners expected from members of the dog-walking community seem so logical that you may be confused about why it’s necessary to go over them at all. Surprisingly enough, that is often the reason why so many people overlook the basic rules—they seem so natural they don’t put any thought into it and end up breaking them without even realizing! There might also be some new dog owners looking to do a little research before they head out with their pup.

Whether you’re new to dog-walking and reading up on some essential dos and don’ts, or an old pro just looking for a bit of a refresh, it’s good to be aware of the best practices for cruising the sidewalks. Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to make the most out of every walk for you, your pooch and everyone you encounter!

Dog-Walking Etiquette: The Rules of the Sidewalk

Always use a leash.

Rule number one to always follow when walking your dog is to keep him on a leash. Some people disregard this rule, believing that they know their dog well enough and have enough control that a leash is unnecessary—don’t make this mistake.

You never know what you might come across in your neighborhood that can trigger your dog. There may be a new noise, animal, person, or situation that you’ve never encountered that ends up provoking your pup. Don’t rely on always being able to anticipate your dog’s reactions. As cute as they are, dogs are animals and their behavior is not always predictable.

Not every person or animal you come across will want to be approached by your pooch. Someone may be severely allergic or walking a new puppy who hasn’t been trained yet. Ensure the safety of you, your dog, and everyone around you by always using a leash.

Clean up after your dog.

This one is a standard for dog walkers and non-dog walkers alike—clean up after yourself! Nobody wants to go for a run or walk across their lawn to the mailbox and end up stepping in dog poop. Make sure to bring plenty of plastic bags on your walk and pick up your pup’s poop no matter where he decides to go.

Even if it’s not on someone’s lawn, be considerate of others using public spaces like a park or neighborhood sidewalk. Don’t just bring the bags for show either, in case someone happens to catch your pooch in the act—use them every time!

Respect other people and their property.

While it may seem unfathomable to you (and to us), not everyone is a dog lover. Don’t allow your dog to run up to or jump on people or other dogs out enjoying the day. Assume that no one is interested in you or your dog unless they tell you otherwise.

Just because an individual is outside walking, with or without a dog, doesn’t mean they’re putting out an open invitation for social interaction. Someone may be training for a marathon or exercising an older, arthritic dog—you don’t want to interrupt someone’s focus or put anyone’s safety at risk, human or otherwise.

Respect other people’s property the same way you would if they invited you into their home. Don’t let your dog trample all over their lawn, garden, or landscaping. Don’t let them pee or poop on mailboxes, lawn decorations, or anything else that belongs to someone else. Do your best to stick to the sidewalk or the street with your pup, avoiding private properties and the grass strip that separates some sidewalks from the road. Be sure to keep your dog close to you as well, leaving space on the sidewalk for others to pass.

Be aware of your dog and your surroundings.

Pay constant attention to what your dog is doing. Walking your dog should not be as effortless as taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood, when you can zone out and move on autopilot. You need to always be aware of where your dog is in order to prevent an unsafe or undesirable situation.

Keep the leash long enough for your dog to roam, but short enough to maintain control. You don’t want them to spot a squirrel and bolt into someone’s backyard or run over to a picnicking family and try to steal a sandwich. Take care to keep social interactions brief as well, as you don’t know what someone else’s schedule may look like.

Be conscious of your surroundings and prepared to redirect and seize control of a situation if necessary. Know your dog and watch for their triggers.

Stick to these dog-walking guidelines and you’ll be sure to make fast friends and have the best experience on every adventure you and your pup go on! If you’re in need of a new furry friend to show the neighborhood to, contact Lankas Labs today and come meet your next walking buddy!