Dog-Walking Etiquette: the do's and don'ts of the road

Posted by Jen Siow on

Editor’s Note: In January 2021, Persimmon Peak was renamed Persnickety Pets.

With many more people working from home and practicing social distancing these days, we've noticed a lot more folks out walking their dogs in our neighborhood! While walking your dog is a great way to stay healthy, there are definitely some “do’s and dont’s” to keep in mind to ensure a pleasant experience for everyone. This week we’ve dug up some good info on how to be a courteous and conscientious dog walker. 

Persimmon Peak: Dog-walking etiquette poster

DO: Keep your dog on a leash

Unless you’re in a fenced area (like a dog park) it’s always safer to keep your dog on a leash. In fact, it’s the law: Leash Laws in Mobile, AL. Numerous things could cause your typically well-behaved pup to take off: the sudden appearance of a squirrel, coming upon another dog, seeing a runner or cyclist. Anytime you’re walking in the vicinity of traffic, a loose dog can become extremely dangerous to itself and to others. Don’t risk your dog’s life; leash up. It’s an easy way to avoid a tragic accident and be a considerate dog owner.

DO: Pick up after your dog

We’ll put this one bluntly: there are few things worse than a poop surprise. Whether you find a pile in the house or step in one on your way to check the mail, there’s not one person on this planet who appreciates an unexpected pile of fresh poop. Not one. Be a good neighbor and pick up after your pet, no exceptions. If you find yourself caught without a poop bag, grab one as soon as you get home and go back to pick up the pile. Pro tip: keep a spare poop bag tied to your everyday leash or your pup’s walking harness so you’re never caught unprepared!

DO: Leave plenty of space when passing other walkers and dogs

Don’t assume all dogs you come across on your walks are dog-friendly. Some dogs may be scared of or reactive to other dogs and their handler may be working hard to train their dog through such issues. Allowing your dog to crowd or lunge at another dog can have negative (and sometimes disastrous) effects in situations like these. Likewise, don’t assume all people you come across like dogs. Some people may be spooked by dogs (even if they are friendly) and others may be allergic. Whenever you come upon and have to pass another dog-walker, pedestrian, or cyclist on the road, be courteous and give them as much space as possible. 

What does a yellow bandana or ribbon on a dog mean? A yellow bandana on a dog or a yellow ribbon on her leash is a simple request for space. If you see this on another dog when you're out walking with your own pup, just give them a wide berth and don't let your pup approach the other dog. It's pretty simple, but it can make a world of difference for that other pup and her handler!

The Yellow Dog Project

DON’T: Let your dog run up to another walker or dog

We often see this with loose dogs in unfenced yards, but have encountered this from other dog walkers as well. A dog that is charging across its yard or allowed to lunge at the end of its leash at passing pedestrians is immediately threatening. Even if he “just wants to play” it’s hard for anyone to read the body language of an unfamiliar dog in just a few seconds. If you come across another dog walker and your pups gets excited, ask the handler if your dogs can greet one another and then introduce them properly.

Still not convinced this is a problem because your dog is super friendly? Consider this: even if your pup is the friendliest dog in the world, the dog he's approaching may not be; that dog may be shy, scared of other dogs, or even dog-reactive. That dog may be a rescue dog who is still learning leash manners and trust; your happily lunging dog can undo all of that hard work in a matter of seconds. That runner your dog is gleefully chasing after might be afraid of dogs; those small children your dog knocks down in his innocent exuberance might be forever scarred by the experience. Keep these scenarios in mind the next time you find yourself yelling "don't worry, he's friendly!" to a passing runner or dog walker as your dog chases them down the street. Here’s some further reading on this topic.

DON’T: Let your dog trample flowers or mark mailboxes or lawn ornaments

This one is simple, but important: be respectful of people’s property. Your neighbor with the lovely flower boxes at the end of her drive won’t appreciate your dog trampling her prize petunias. If your male dog likes to lift his leg on everything he passes, don’t allow him to mark things like mailboxes or lawn ornaments; the odor is unpleasant and hard to eliminate from objects. Remember that while you and your pup are just passing through, people live at the end of every driveway.

DO: Walk against oncoming traffic

When you’re unable to walk on a sidewalk, it’s safest to walk against oncoming traffic (here in the Sates, that means on the left side of the road). When you’re facing traffic, you can see (not just hear) all approaching vehicles; you also have the ability to make eye contact with the driver so you know they can see you. It’s especially important to follow this rule when you’re walking with a dog as it can be harder for a driver to spot a dog (especially if it’s a small one). When you and your pup are walking against traffic, you’re ensuring not only that you’ll be seen but also that you’ll have plenty of time to move out of the way of an oncoming car. 

Did you know?

In the city of Mobile (as is true in many other cities) it is the law that pedestrians should walk against traffic wherever sidewalks are not available. Here’s the relevant section from the Mobile Code of Ordinances:

Sec. 61-342. - Pedestrians walking along roadways.

(a) Where sidewalks are provided it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.

(b) Where sidewalks are not provided any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall when practicable walk only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction.

From our pack to yours, happy dog walking!

Persimmon Peak: Walking the dogs three

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