By Brenna Fender
If you are reading this, you probably consider yourself a responsible dog owner. You feed your dog good food, provide clean water and shelter, and take him for regular veterinary check-ups. You give him baths, attention, and exercise. You may have even attended dog training classes to help teach your dog how to behave nicely. Those things are all important aspects of caring for a dog in a responsible way.
But responsible dog ownership isn’t just about the way you take care of your dog. It’s also about the way you handle your dog in public. Part of being a responsible dog owner is in leaving a good impression on others, particularly those who don’t own dogs themselves. It’s about making sure your dog doesn’t inconvenience or upset others.
How can you do that?
- Pick up your dog’s waste. Nobody wants to step in dog mess! Carry bags for clean-up duty and use them. Bring extras and give them to owners who forget to bring their own. If you see a pile, pick it up, even if your dog was not responsible for leaving it. One irresponsible dog owner can reflect badly on the rest of us!
- If you own a male dog, don’t allow him to urinate on other people’s things. Trash cans, car tires, and other similar items are not acceptable bathrooms. If someone else will have to touch or clean up the object your dog wants to pee on, don’t let him pee on it. And if he does, find a way to clean it off.
- Don’t let your dog bark excessively. If he barks in the yard, bring him in. If he barks often inside your apartment or condo, work with a trainer to redirect your dog’s behavior. Excessive barking can be a big disturbance to your neighbors.
- Keep your dog on leash in public. Most areas have leash laws. Abide by them. Do not allow your unleashed dog to run up to leashed dogs or unsuspecting people. You may think that your dog just wants to say “Hi!” but others may not. Being approached by a strange dog can be a very threatening and unpleasant experience. Dogs may behave aggressively under these circumstances.
- Keep your dog in your fenced yard or in your house. Do not allow your dog to roam, not only for the reasons above, but also because loose dogs are in danger of being hit by a car (or causing a car accident); they may endanger livestock or other pets; and they may be injured, poisoned, stolen, or get lost. If your dog frequently escapes, find a way to stop it!
- If you travel with your pet, be a gracious guest. Pick up after your pet, and don’t allow him to bark, damage, or dirty a hotel room. Dog hair can clog hotel pipes and damage hotel furniture, so be courteous and avoid washing your dog in hotel tubs (unless truly necessary) and cover hotel bedspreads, sofas, and other furniture with sheets.
Paying attention to these few things will help you be a responsible dog owner who sets a good example for others.