It’s finally beginning to look like spring, which means many more dog owners and temporary guardians will be out with their furry friends enjoying warm weather.  It’s important to remember that, just like your neighbors, the dogs in your neighborhood may have varied personalities.  Owners and dog walkers work actively to manage their dog’s particular personality, but it’s important to be a conscientious walker yourself, even if your own dog is perfectly happy to meet everyone on his or her walk.

So what does this mean?  A conscientious walker is communicative with their fellow dog owners and neighbors.  They practice caution when encountering another walking pair or pack on their route, never allowing his or her dog the slack to have access to the other animals.  And most importantly, they respect their neighbors’ requests for space, if asked.

These things may seem like common sense to some practiced walkers, and too strict to others.  It’s important to remember that not every dog in your neighborhood may be comfortable with other dogs, children, men or women, and it’s your responsibility as an owner to keep your dog safe.  If an approaching pair sees you and your dog and crosses the street, don’t take this as a criticism.  Owners who are experienced with their dogs’ limitations will manage them as best they can during their time outside and in public.  Consider also that even friendly dogs may be put off by particularly energetic animals they encounter.

If a fellow walker intends to introduce their dog to your dog, remain calm and confident.  Your attitude is felt down the leash, and if you become nervous it may cause your dog to react negatively during the encounter.  Always be aware of your dog’s body language: a dog will give “side eye,” lick their lips, and put their ears back if they are uncomfortable.   If your dog starts to behave negatively, simply say goodbye continue on with your walk.  Do not show your dog physical affection when they look nervous!  It’s human nature to comfort our animal pals when they look distressed, but this actually only rewards negative reactions.

It’s our responsibility as great dog owners to keep our buddies safe outside.  With just a bit of mindfulness and consideration, you and your furry friend can have a leisurely and safe walk around the neighborhood!