Practicing Good Manners with Dogs

Dogs—like humans—come in all shapes, sizes, personalities and personal histories.

They are very much individuals.

It’s important to consider this around new dogs in social or public settings—especially if your own dog is also present. Since not all dogs react in the same way to new people or other dogs, it’s key to practice good manners to avoid potential problems.

Here are some tips to start with:

Keep a Safe Distance

If your dog is super friendly and gets really excited wanting to run over and meet new dogs while on your walk, resist the urge to get too close. You know your dog is friendly, but other dogs and people don’t. Many dogs—even friendly dogs—can get apprehensive at a rambunctious dog running excitedly toward them. Plus, even if your dog is usually friendly, sometimes dogs just don’t get along, so it’s best to keep a distance until both dogs are calm and under control. At that point, you can communicate with the other owner about whether you want to allow the dogs a quick introduction via sniff.

Careful with Dashers

Some dogs are so excited for their walk that they end up wanting to bolt out of the house or out of the car. This can be dangerous for them on many fronts: Not only can they run out into traffic but they can end up face-to-face with a less-than-friendly dog. Or your dog can end up starting fights with other dogs. If you have a dasher, training is a must. Find a trainer who has experience with dogs who bolt.

Avoid Retractable Leashes

There are several reasons to avoid retractable leashes, but in regards to practicing good manners, it comes back to keeping a safe distance. When your dog is walking 20 feet ahead of you on a retractable leash, that doesn’t give you a whole lot of control as to what other dogs he’s running into. And if you do see a dog coming nearby, you still may not have the time to reel your own dog in. Stick to a solid leash that doesn’t retract (around 6 feet, depending on your dog’s needs and size).

Keep Things Mellow

Many dogs will react to high-pitched laughing, screaming and other excited behavior in humans—especially those unfamiliar to them. If you arrive at a park with your children and dog, and you see other dogs around, keep your kids and dog close to you and as calm as possible while around the other dogs. Not all dogs have an easy understanding of children—they’re close to the ground like them, but also make a lot of noise and erratic movements—so the calmer you can keep your kids, the better. It’s also a good idea to teach your young child to have a healthy respect of animals and not to just walk up to them, or run after them.

Be Aware When You Look Strange

We all like to spice things up on our exercise routines once in a while—maybe with rollerblading, unicycling, jogging backwards, skateboarding, etc. That’s quite all right, but if you’re doing something a little different in public and a dog or dogs are around, just be aware that some dogs may find this behavior strange. Don’t be surprised if you get barked at. Just roll on by as quickly as possible to get out of the dog’s line of sight. And don’t take it personally.

Don’t Be Too Friendly

Not surprisingly animal lovers want to greet most animals they run into. Make sure to approach any new dog with caution, always asking the dog owner whether their pet is friendly and OK to greet. If so, let the dog come to you if he wishes, don’t make sudden movements, avoid petting him on the head, and don’t stare at the dog intently or in the eyes.

Seeing new dogs—with or without your own dog—can be a lot of fun if you make sure to practice some good manners.

Meet the Author: Jessica Peralta

Jessica Peralta has been a journalist for more than 15 years and an animal lover all her life. She has had dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, frogs, and rabbits. Her current children are a German shepherd named Guinness and a black kitten named Riot (and he lives up to that name). It’s because of her love for animals that she focused her journalistic career to the world of holistic animal care and pet nutrition. In between keeping Riot and Guinness out of mischief, she’s constantly learning about all the ways she can make them healthier and happier.

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