1. Pick up your dog’s crap. NO ONE wants to see it, smell it or god forbid step in it and you are an irresponsible dog owner if you leave it there. Your dog can’t pick it up, so it’s up to you. And also, for the people who say it’s not cool to wander round with a bag full of crap, it’s cooler than being the git that ruined someone else’s favourite pair of shoes.
2. Just because your dog is friendly, don’t assume other people’s dogs are also friendly. At best, it’s embarrassing for both of you as the other dog goes crazy because of yours and at worst, you or your dog could end up injured.
3. When socialising your dog, ASSUME OTHER DOGS ARE UNFRIENDLY. It is a massive mistake to a) blindly assume other dog owners are happy for their dog to be used for socialising practice (most are but some aren’t) and b) assume that the other dog will react in the way you expect. If you meet another dog owner and want to try socialising your pet, always call to them ‘Is she/he/it friendly?’ to give them advance warning of your plans and to allow you to avoid the situation if the answer is no. A bad attempt at socialising can turn your dog unfriendly.
4. If your dog is offensive and will act aggressively, always keep it on a lead and with a muzzle. Just because it doesn’t attack you or your family doesn’t mean it won’t attack those it sees as a threat. You don’t want to be served with a notice to destroy your dog because you were irresponsible and let it hurt another dog or a person. This will also serve as a visual notice to people that your dog is unfriendly and they will keep theirs away.
5. If your dog is defensive, again ALWAYS keep it on a lead and consider making it wear a muzzle. This will demonstrate to people that they don’t want to bring their dog near you, helping you to avoid awkward situations where your dog frantically barks etc. Try to walk your dog at quieter times of day to avoid meeting situations.
6. Even if your dog is the friendliest dog in the world, unless it can be trusted to come to you no matter what distraction there is (and even then sometimes), keep it on a lead. Even if unfriendly dogs are on a lead, if your dog is not it can still get hurt. Also, if there is someone who is afraid of dogs, they may be threatened by yours, no matter how clear it is to you that your dog is friendly. Be considerate for everyone out walking, dog owner or not.
7. If a person walking their dog sees you and crosses the road, DO NOT CROSS THE ROAD LIKE THEM. They are attempting to avoid you – either because of what their dog might do or because of what they think your dog might do. Either way, it is best to leave them to get on with it and avoid putting them and you in an awkward or dangerous situation. If the person has crossed the road when they see you and your dog coming, it is safe to assume that their dog will not react well to you, so avoid them.
8. Make your dog wear a harness. This has several benefits. Firstly, if the dog is a puller it will stop them from almost choking on walks – always a benefit if you want your dog to live past the age of 2. Secondly, it gives you greater control over it because you can yank it away from danger if needed without running the risk of snapping its neck. Finally, it is harder for a dog to wriggle out of than a collar, meaning you don’t have to worry about it being able to run off as easily.
9. Always give your dog a chance to sniff what it wants, provided it’s not totally disgusting. Dogs get a lot of enjoyment out of sniffing because it gives them lots of information such as what other dog has been in the area etc. so don’t drag them along at the speed of light. Make time for your dog’s walk!
10. If your dog is panting heavily after a walk, pour lukewarm water over their body. Dogs cannot sweat, so cool themselves by panting. This is quite ineffective, especially if they are a hairier breed of dog, but by pouring water over them you allow them to mimic the evaporation of sweat and they will cool faster.