Dog Etiquette and the Importance of Owner Responsibility
Few things cause ill will among neighbors like a dog owner who ignores basic etiquette. Most of us have known someone like that, an inconsiderate lout who leaves his dog outside barking at five in the morning or who looks the other way while his pup makes her morning deposit on a neighbor’s front lawn. These perpetrators may not be quite the villains they seem; like most dog owners, they’re blinded by love and the belief that their pooch is the cutest, smartest, most well-behaved tail wagger that ever lived. But they definitely need a crash course in doggie/neighbor protocol, not to mention a healthy dose of reality. It’s really not that difficult to be a well-behaved dog owner, it just takes some patience and a respect for one’s fellow man (and his yard).
Good dog etiquette is especially important if you live in a neighborhood that has rules about owning a dog, or if your rental property allows dogs as long as you follow their rules to the letter. Teaching your dog a few key rules of public etiquette will help keep your furry friend under control and your neighbors happy.
Don’t forget the bag!
Have you ever grabbed the leash and headed out the door, looking forward to a nice brisk walk with your pup, only to realize two blocks down the road that you left the dog waste bag by the front door? It may not rise to the level of a moral dilemma, but it’s a good test of a dog owner’s character. Do you head back home, or do you just let it fall and hope no one notices? Failing to clean up after your dog is one of the leading violations of dog etiquette. Aside from being unsanitary, dog waste can spread disease. Many people see it as nothing less than a sign of contempt and utter disregard for them. Before you start a full-scale dog waste war, consider that most cities have some kind of dog ordinance, which an angry neighbor will surely take advantage of if you’re not careful. If you don’t have dog disposal bags, grocery bags will work just fine. Don’t forget them!
Keep them leashed
Some people feel comfortable letting their dog off the leash, believing that their pet won’t run off or that no one will mind if he wanders around loose, indulging his sense of smell. Not only is it bad form, it’s dangerous. Dogs are killed or seriously injured every day by vehicles driven by distracted people who may not see them or be able to brake in time. Your dog may even wander into a yard that’s jealously guarded by a much larger, much more aggressive dog just looking for something to bite. If you really want to allow your little friend to run loose, head for the local dog park. Many have fenced-in areas where your pup can enjoy an hour or two free of the leash. If you must let your pup run around in your property, it’s best to have a fence. The average cost to put in a wood fence in Los Angeles is $1,766 - $3,830.
A dog that yaps nonstop is another sign of dog-owner insensitivity. It’s annoying, even for other owners, and it can be a source of unrelieved misery for a neighbor who doesn’t own (or like) dogs. Use good common sense if your dog has a tendency to bark for hours on end. Let him in until he’s calmed down or the cause of his barking (the mailman, another dog going by, etc.) has passed on. If the situation persists, consider hiring a dog trainer who’s experienced at dealing with this problem (a private training session could run between $30 - $100 an hour).
Good dog etiquette is a matter of exhibiting courtesy and consideration for your neighbors by teaching your dog to be obedient. If you don’t have the time to do it, a dog trainer may be your best option. Either way, it’s an essential part of being a responsible owner.
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