Pets 101

Doggie Etiquette – Make sure Fido minds his Ps and Qs this summer

By Christina Cottini

Dog RunningWhether you’re taking a trip to the beach, dog park, pet-friendly café, or simply strolling the sidewalk, good manners are mandatory. Knowing the ins and outs of proper pup etiquette is essential year-round, but summertime presents an extra dimension for both people and pooches. Making sure that your pup is on his or her best behavior while enjoying the sunshine is the key to being a responsible pooch parent.

You need not go far to find someone who has encountered bad behavior—of the human or canine variety. However, good discipline needs to come from both ends of the leash. As the leader of your pack, you must teach your dog the fundamental guidelines of obedience, including the sit, stay, down, and come commands. It is up to you to ensure that your pup is well behaved and friendly or to consider additional training if Fido’s manners are lacking.

Not everyone is a dog person, so always maintain respect for others. Keep your pooch on a leash and never allow jumping on other people. Imagine how annoyed you might be if your neighbor’s Great Dane charged you to say hello and got muddy paw prints all over your brand-new white pants. Jinx jumping! Use a 4- to 6-foot leash to control walking on crowded sidewalks and avoid allowing your pup to create chaos by frolicking freely.

The beach can be an ideal locale during a breezy summer day. However, it’s always better to find a designated dog beach versus a human beach for surfing and swimming with your pooch. Watch your pup closely and make sure that he or she never buries poop in the sand for an unsuspecting fellow beachcomber to discover.

Would you jump into that pond? If not, then there should be no pond play for your pup either. There could be high levels of bacteria, disease, and even alligators lurking, depending on your location. No poochie pool parties allowed without a human present. Accidents can—and do—happen.

Before exploring the world of dog parks, take Fido for a checkup. Bring only a healthy, social pooch to romp and run with the others. Do keep a watchful eye on your pup and be prepared to intervene if necessary; learn to recognize what appropriate play looks like. For example, a tucked tail, lowered ears, bared teeth, snapping, and avoidance of interaction are all signs that a dog is afraid or stressed. A tail held straight up in the air and barely moving is also a warning sign.

Although a leash is usually a must, never bring your pooch into a dog park attached to one—it leaves him or her vulnerable to dominant or aggressive dogs. But if you happen to encounter a badly behaving pup, never reprimand or discipline someone else’s dog. Approach the guardian calmly instead to confront the problem.

Just as Mrs. Brady told her kids, “Don’t play ball in the house,” a similar mantra should apply in the pup park. There is no need to bring balls or other toys; your pooch should have more than enough to keep him or her busy through interaction and play with the other dogs. Dogs have a tremendously keen sense of smell, so be sure to avoid inciting anarchy by leaving the people and poochie food out of the dog park.

Drooling dogs need friends too, but do not allow drooling on other dogs or humans—be sure that your pup is drinking enough water, or wipe the drool if it’s a regular occurrence. Do come prepared at all times—bring extra essentials (i.e., clean-up bags). Sharing is caring!

Summertime opens up a whole new world of fun for you to share with your furry friend. Many restaurants with sidewalk seating are adopting a pet-friendly attitude, but before heading out to your favorite outdoor café with Fido in tow, call the restaurant to confirm. Upon settling down at your spot, tie your pooch to your chair and not the table—toppling may occur! Ask your server for a cup or bowl for your thirsty pooch instead of sharing your glass. Although drinking from crystal at home may be the norm, your pup will have to be content without during this dining experience.

Perhaps your pooch runs the roost at home—couches, chairs, and beds are all fair game for lounging. However, when out at a restaurant, keep Fido off the chairs and benches and make sure he or she remains sitting or lying down as close to you as possible. Those puppy-dog eyes might be irresistible to you, but the people sitting close by likely disagree, so discourage tableside begging—especially from neighboring tables. Be sure to tip generously if your server has provided particularly pet-friendly service to your table.

One of the fundamentals of doggie etiquette is to respect other people and pooches at all times. Be polite and careful when approaching other pets and people. Don’t be shy—ask if the other pooch is friendly before Fido waggles his way up to say hello.

Many hiking trails around the country are dog friendly. When exploring the wilds, always keep your canine hiking companion on a leash. If you encounter others during your time on the trail, move to the side to let them pass while keeping your pooch held securely.

When strolling around the neighborhood, it is wise to keep a close eye (and secure leash) on your pup. Your green-thumb neighbors have spent a lot of time caring for their award-winning flower display. Do not let your pooch push his snout into the carefully tilled garden or relieve himself on the flowers. Again, it’s all about respect.

As many cold-weather climate dwellers know, dogs’ paws are very sensitive. If you wouldn’t walk barefoot on the hot concrete, your pooch probably won’t want to either. Shade and water are essential for long periods of time spent with your pooch outdoors. In fact, responsible pooch parents always bring a supply of water; dogs get dehydrated easily.

It’s never OK to leave your dog in the car if it’s hot outside. You wouldn’t put Fido into the oven, would you? Further, resist the impulse to take your dog with you everywhere. Even if the weather has never been more picture perfect, sometimes it really is better to leave your pooch at home. Although you might relish the opportunity to share your freshly grilled cheeseburger with your pup, don’t assume that your pooch is welcome at your friend’s BBQ, weekend retreat, etc. Always ask first.

Last but most certainly not least, always clean up after your dog. Keep bags with you at all times. There is no excuse for not cleaning up after your pooch—it soils the reputation of pets and their people alike!

Practicing proper etiquette with your pup increases your popularity potential and makes you both look good!

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