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Rules for New Dog Owners



Pet ownership has an entirely different set of rules and responsibilities beyond simply caring for the animal.  An often overlooked part of owning a pet is the way in which dog and owner interact with the world around them.  Listed below are five rules of etiquette that all dog owners should follow in order to avoid conflict and be good citizens.

Always Ask Before An Introduction
When approaching an unfamiliar dog while out on a walk, always ask the other dog’s owner if it is okay for your pet to say hello.  Just because your dog is friendly does not mean that the other person’s dog enjoys the company of other canines, as well.  If you are using a retractable leash, shorten the lead and lock it in place, as the other dog may perceive a pet with more freedom as a threat.

Always Keep Your Dog On-Leash
Even if your dog is well-behaved, always follow the guidelines set in place for the area in which you live or are visiting.  Leash laws not only protect people and other animals in the area, but they also keep your pet safe, as well.  For instance, when walking your dog on a hiking trail, your pet may be tempted to approach a family walking their own pet and say hi.  If the other dog is leashed, it may see your free-roaming pet as a threat and attack when your dog comes near.

Always Pick Up After Your Pup
Although it can be tempting not to pick up after your dog if you are in an area where few people travel (or if there is no one around to witness that you are avoiding cleaning up after your pet), you should always pick up your pet’s waste.  This simple courtesy has far reaching implications for disease management and keeping waterways clean, while also being an all-around nice gesture.

Always Supervise your Dog
Pet owners can easily fall into a false sense of security when their dogs are generally well-behaved.  However, dogs are unpredictable animals, and nothing is worse than having to be that pet owner that sheepishly says, “my dog has never done that before.”  Especially when children or other animals are involved, always keep a close watch on your pet.

Never Assume
Finally, never assume anything when it comes to pet ownership.  For instance, pet owners sometimes mistakenly presume that other animals behave in the same way as their own pets.  This may be as simple as failing to realize that not all dogs can be trusted off-leash and accidentally allowing a friend or family member’s animal out of the house without thinking; or, assuming that other animals are as friendly as yours and allowing your pet to approach unfamiliar dogs.  A second common assumption to never to make is that other people want to interact with your pet.  Not everyone is comfortable around dogs, so never allow your pet into another person’s space unless specifically invited.

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Anna Weber

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