Dog walking etiquette [5 rules you must follow]

Dog walking etiquette [5 rules you must follow]

If you ever take your dog for a walk, then learning these 5 dog walking rules are critical.

We know walking your dog every day is such an important part of being a good dog owner. It not only gives you and your dog much needed physical exercise, but also great mental exercise. But did you know there is an etiquette to dog walking?

Check out the top 5 Reasons to Take Your Dog for a Walk.

Whether you are walking your dog in a neighborhood or park or the city, there are dog walking rules. I know, some of these seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t pick up their dog’s poop!

person walking two large dogs on leash in a park

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Walking Your Dog Etiquette Rule #1

Keep Your Dog on a 6’ Leash

Most cities and townships have a leash law, requiring you to have your dog on a leash while walking in public.

When walking your dog he should always be on a 6’ leash. Do not use a retractable leash, it is dangerous for you and your dog.

My favorite leash is a simple leather leash, read How to Choose the Best Dog Leash.

Even if your dog is off-leash trained, think about what would happen if your dog got spooked by something and took off. Or, if another off-leash dog started charging your dog! You would have no way of guiding your dog away from harm. Your dog may be friendly, but don’t assume all other dogs are.


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Walking Your Dog Etiquette Rule #2

Pick up your dogs poop

This is the number one complaint I hear in our NextDoor Neighbor app. Clean up after you dog… please!

Be prepared to pick up your dog’s poop every time you take a walk. Even if he just went, bring a bag… you never know! Leaving your dog’s poop in someone’s yard is a huge no-no.

Get a special poop bag holder that clips to your leash so you never get caught without a poop bag!

I can’t tell you how many times we see dog poop on our daily walks. It should be common courtesy to pick up after your dog, but for some reason, so many people decide not to pick up the poop. One of our neighbors even put out this dog statue that says “No Dumping!”.

Your dog’s poop can carry diseases even if he seems healthy to you. Dogs can get very sick by simply sniffing another dog’s poop that has worms, coccidia, and other diseases.

Just think if nobody picked up their dog poop, our lawns would be piled high with feces! Have you ever gone all winter without picking up your dog’s poop in your backyard?

Walking Your Dog Etiquette Rule #3

Do NOT allow dog-to-dog meetings on walks

Some dogs get nervous when meeting other dogs. Your dog could be friendly as can be, never shown any signs of being aggressive, but still become leash reactive. And if not your dog, it could be the other dog.

You, as your dog’s leader, need to prove that you will advocate for your dog. By creating a structured walk you can let your dog that you will be there for him, to protect him at all costs… and this can only be done on a 6’ leash.

Walking Your Dog Etiquette Rule #4

Limit dog to people meetings on your walk

Sadly, not everyone you meet will be a dog lover. Adults and kids can have allergies, be afraid of dogs, or just not a dog person.

Don’t allow your dog to wander up to strangers, this is easily done by keeping your dog in a heal position on a 6′ leash.

If a person asks if they can pet your dog, you need to be the best judge if this is a good idea or not. Is your dog confident in himself, does he enjoy meeting new people? Only allow people to pet your dog if you are certain your dog is comfortable with the situation.

Walking Your Dog Etiquette Rule #5

Is it OK to let your dog walk on other people’s lawns?

No, keep your dog off of people’s lawn. I know it’s hard to believe, but not everyone loves your dog. And they certainly don’t want your dog peeing on their beautifully maintained, green lawn!

In most suburban neighborhoods there is an easement area. This is the grass area that is between the street and the sidewalk. This is the only area you should allow your dog to roam and go potty.

Stay off of private property! Be considerate of flowerbeds, bushes, etc. Non-dog people and even dog loving people don’t want your dog on their property.

Something else to consider, is if your dog enters a yard with an invisible fence, there could be a dog in that yard protecting his territory and come rushing at your dog and attack him!

We walk by a few yards with invisible fences on our daily walks. It scares the crap out of my dogs and me when a dog rushes toward us barking like crazy! I purposely walk on the other side of the street because their dogs go ballistic whenever we walk by.

So what do you think? Do you walk your dog on a 6’ leash, pick up his poop, and say no to doggy meetings? Have any other etiquette rules you think I should add to the list? Please comment below to share with our Rescue Dogs 101 community.

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About the Author Debi@RescueDogs101

Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.

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