Over the past few weeks this has come up so often that I feel I need to make a public service announcement. Your dog might be the best dog that ever lived but you could be making him look bad. I would like to think that most dog owners have the best intentions but are just uninformed about proper dog protocol. So, I have come up with a short list that will keep you from ruffling the feathers of other dog owners and keep everyone happy and safe.
1. Keep your dog on a leash when approaching other people or dogs.
I am not telling you that you can never have your dog off leash, I am just telling you to be smart about it. Make sure you have proper off-leash control of your dog (extremely reliable recall). When you see other dogs approaching, please leash your dog. I can't tell you how many times I have run into an off leash dog with their owner chasing after them and shouting that they are friendly. That may be the case but are the dogs I'm walking friendly too? More often then not they aren't, or maybe they are shy, or in training. You just never know.
2. Don't allow your dog to interact with other dogs without asking.
Again, you don't know those other dogs. This happens all the time where I'll be walking a dog and without notice, someone is letting their dog rush right up and get in my dog's face. The worst offenders are those on retractable leashes, even if they are trying to do the right thing they are unable to reel in their dogs fast enough. Dogs on leash react differently than dogs off leash, and it's usually not favorably. If you want your dog to socialize with the other dogs, just ask! Many owners will be happy to let them meet. If you see someone making a big circle around you and your dog, take it as a hint that they don't want an interaction and be respectful of that.
3. Break prolonged eye contact with other dogs
If you see your dog staring down another dog as they approach, try and break that eye contact. Using a "watch me" command is a great way to do this! Even if your dog is doing this in a playful way, many dogs see this as a challenge and may get reactive (barking, lunging, etc.) towards your dog.
4. Pick up your dog's poop!!
Now there is no excuse for this one. I cringe every time I see a pile on someones beautifully manicured lawn. It gives us dog owners a bad name. I hate picking it up as much as the next person, but that's part of our glamorous life as dog owners. Bring some bags and get the job done.