My love of dogs *might* border on “Crazy Dog Lady,” but it is a title I will happily wear! When I married Mr. Lyons, my dog family grew from a single Beagle named Fred Rogers, to a wild trio with the addition of Molly and Zoe. We love our little menagerie and they are all three at my feet as I write this.
When it comes to pets, and dogs in particular, there are a number of pet etiquette rules we should observe. These protect both the safety of our pets and fellow humans, as well as offer general courtesy towards those who may not find our dogs quite as charming as we do! *wink
1. Always use a leash in public spaces.
Truthfully, there are leash laws in most cities for a reason. Your dog may be the friendliest, most obedient friend but someone else’s may not. There are a myriad of unfortunate events that can occur when dogs meet without proper control by their owners.
I once found a sweet dog on her own, covered in sand and soaking wet yet miles from the beach. When I called the number on her collar, the owners were horrified to learn how far away she was, saying their dog was attacked by an unfriendly dog at the beach and ran away. This dog had traveled about five miles, crossing numerous bridges and busy streets in the process. Everyone involved was so fortunate she had survived unscathed but there are so many heartbreaking stories in which this is not the case.
We simply cannot know an animal’s behavior. In the interest of keeping everyone and their pets safe, we must keep our dogs on leashes when they are not in a secure, enclosed space.
2. Do not allow your dog to approach strangers or other dogs without permission.
Simply put, not everyone is dog-friendly. We simply cannot know a person’s sensibility and there are many who might not like to be approached by a dog they do not know. A simple, “may they say hello?” should suffice for any interactions your dog has with humans or other animals.
3. Similarly, ask permission before petting a person’s dog.
You may want to pet every dog you see (I know I do! *wink) but not everyone feels the same way. They may prefer you leave their dog alone or their dog may be unfriendly. Ask permission before petting someone’s dog, and be sure to ask permission from the dog too! Allow the dog to come to you and allow them to smell the back of your hand before petting them.
4. It is a pet etiquette must to pick up after your dog.
This should go without saying but I believe we have all seen this happen too often to not mention it. If you run out of bags, go home and get one. There truly is no excuse for leaving the unmentionable on someone’s lawn.
5. Do not bring your pet to a person’s home without express permission.
They say, “assumption is the mother of all mistakes” and it certainly applies here. We cannot assume your friend will be comfortable with your dog in their home. Even if you have brought your dog to their home before, it is always necessary to ask in advance.
6. Train your dog to not jump up onto people.
Anyone who has struggled with this behavior knows it can be difficult to tame. However, we must find ways to teach our dogs (especially large dogs) not to jump up onto people. If your dog does jump up and damage someone’s clothing, you should offer to pay the repair or dry cleaning bill.
7. Take great care with your dogs around children.
Like dogs, children can be unpredictable. Depending on the age they may not have well developed motor skills and may do things that upset even the friendliest dog. Unless your dog has been socialized with children and you know they will not react, take great care before allowing kids to pet or play with your dog.
8. Pay attention at the dog park.
A lot can go wrong at the dog park. It is important to monitor your dog closely. If your dog is exhibiting bad behavior, it is your responsibility to remove your dog and keep everyone out of harm’s way.
9. If your dog shows signs of aggression, they should not be around other people, children, or dogs.
A dog who shows aggression can sometimes be trained. However, you cannot allow unknowing participants to act as test subjects. If your dog has shown signs of aggression in the past, take care to protect anyone it comes into contact with.
10. Keep pets secure when workers are present.
As someone who has undergone many renovations in the past year, I can say with certainty that a secured dog is a must when workers are present. Dogs can easily escape or be injured in this busy situation. It is not the responsibility of your contractors to monitor your pet’s safety.
11. Service animals are highly trained and crucial to those who rely upon them, do not lie about a dog’s service skill.
Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. The internet has made it very easy to purchase a “service animal” vest or collar on the internet. Etiquette involves obeying the rules that keep our society functioning. Abusing a system made to support the disabled so that a person can take their dog to the grocery store is categorically inappropriate. Widespread abuse makes life more difficult for those who truly need this system.
This has, in fact, already happened within the realm of Emotional Support Animals. These are pets (typically dogs) who are certified by a Psychologist help to calm a person who has severe anxiety or PTSD. Airlines used to allow such individuals to bring their dogs on a plane with them to support them during their flight. However, due to widespread abuse (you may have seen the emotional support peacock news story), most airlines have outright banned ESA animals. This removes a crucial line of support for people who truly need this service.
I hope you found these pet etiquette tips helpful! Would you like to improve your etiquette skills? Polish your poise with my etiquette training and offerings. Kindly get in touch to learn more.