Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Street Etiquette for Dog Walking

My friend Kristine's awesome post on Rescued Insanity two days ago hit hard on "ignorant dog owners" who, among other things, let their dogs run loose, don't give other dogs space on the sidewalk, don't supervise their dogs at the dog park, use extendable leashes on unruly dogs, and dominate their dogs instead of working to understand them. Her sentiments received kudos from many, and riled a few.

Sidewalk etiquette has become a hot topic in the news lately, too. Last week the New York Post reported that a street fight erupted when a man stepped over a dog on the sidewalk. The dog walker became angry when a passer-by stepped over his chihuahua, instead of walking around. He exchanged words with the man, who responded by landing a blow to the face, which knocked the dog owner out cold.

The dog walker is in serious condition with contusion, brain swelling, and fractured skull.

Obviously there are hotheads everywhere who yell insults and throw blows to resolve problems. Which is not what we want. So what are the rules for proper pet-iquette on our sidewalks?  How should we respond when an irresponsible dog walker creates a situation that is annoying, frustrating or even dangerous? If we say something, could we even put ourselves in danger of being assaulted? The Post published their tips on  How to Not get into a Fight with a Dog Walker.

Here are a few of my own rules for Street Etiquette for Dog Walking:
1. Don't assume that every dog you pass wants to play with your dog. Some dogs, like Kelly, feel threatened or afraid when approached by other dogs.

2. Please keep your fence in good repair. It makes me nervous when I walk my dog by your house, and your dog's teeth are snarling at me from behind a giant hole in the fence.

3. Don't let your dog run loose. It's stressful to try to take a nice walk while keeping an eye out for loose dogs who might run up and set my dogs off, or even worse start a fight.

4. If we do pass by on the sidewalk, please keep your leash short, and keep your dog on the opposite side of you. I'll do the same, and we should be able to pass without a problem.

Do you have some rules of your own to add?

*Thank you Kristine for inspiring this post.


  1. I would appreciate it if people didn't park on the sidewalk, forcing me to walk my dog into the street.

  2. @Kelly Caton that is a good one. That happens here too, so I'm with you!

  3. We sometimes STOP and wait fur others to Pass us by...

  4. @Frankie and Ernie - You two are the best. You are great canine citizens.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this subject, and for linking to my rant. This is something I find myself complaining about almost every day and it isn't fair as I do believe the vast majority of people are polite and considerate, even if they don't always know the right thing to do. This story you mentioned is frightening! This underlines why I am sometimes hesitant to say anything.

    Honestly, usually I will just ignore or avoid when I can as it is always easier but when an off-leash dog is bounding right for us, avoidance isn't always possible. I just wish all owners would understand that leash laws protect their dogs too. They protect all of us. Your etiquette rules are simple yet life would be so much smoother if they were followed.

  6. That sounds like a scary situation. Some people are just mean. Others are thoughtless. I try to cross the street or turn around if we see another dog on our walk. Both Maya and Pierson are leash reactive. I will always walk around people, perhaps not across the street. Some people don't like dogs or are afraid of them so I don't want to intrude my dogs on others. Sure, we all have a right to the public walkways, but it isn't much trouble to be courteous.

  7. Well said @Nature by Dawn--it isn't much trouble to be courteous. I want to say that maybe it's dependent upon where you live. But maybe not. There are more and less courteous people wherever you go.


Kelly and Ike say thank you for your comments!