Everyday doggy etiquetteCorey Farrugia
Given that most people nowadays are living packed together in cities, so close that we sometimes feel like we can almost make out our neighbour’s breathing through our thin apartment walls, it is therefore understandable to feel that we are living in a time that we have to take special care and precautions to interfere with other people’s lives as little as we possibly can. Most of these points would not be relevant to those living in detached houses in the countryside. They are useful for the average city dweller that is expected to take extra care that their dog is not unintentionally affecting other people’s lives, especially those that do not welcome such interference. The following are a couple of points that any urban dog owner must keep in mind.
Make sure that your dog is comfortable staying home alone
Separation anxiety is a common dog problem. This problem can affect either the owner or the neighbours depending on how the dog decides to vent its frustration caused by solitude. Some dogs, much to the frustration of the owner, decide to vent their frustration by engaging in destructive behaviour. This does not usually disturb neighbours unless the dog is ripping the place down and creating a ruckus. Other dogs decide to let the world know about their sorrows by howling their lament as loud as their vocal chords allow them to. This is when dog owners usually start having problems with their neighbours. It is important to understand that your neighbour’s complaints are legitimate if the dog is disturbing the neighbourhood peace excessively. It is suggested that you start training your dog against separation anxiety from the first few days that it arrives at your home. This is done by leaving your dog alone at home for a carefully considered amount of time. The time left alone is increased in increments as the dog shows progress. In case that you are too busy for such training to be possible one must consider the option that the dog might need the service of a dog sitter until it becomes used to staying alone.
Keep your dog on a leash
It is the pride and joy of most people to show off how well behaved their dog is off leash. For some, the idea that they are giving their dog a level of autonomy and yet the dog decides to stick to their side like a loyal butler is what makes off leash dog walking so appealing. However, these people don’t realise that the appeal of having their dog off leash is not something everyone appreciates. It is not uncommon for urban dwellers to have a certain general fear of dogs, especially those they have never met. It is therefore most respectful to keep your dog on a leash. This gives you the security that neither a stranger nor your dog, will suffer from any preventable trauma due to some unnecessary misunderstanding stemming from an unwanted interaction.
Clean after your dog
You might think that leaving your dog’s faeces on a patch of lawn is beneficial to the healthy growth of this otherwise unblemished patch of emerald green. However, not everyone appreciates your obvious disregard to your neighbourhood aesthetics. Make sure to respect the need for cleanliness that your neighbours might have at heart. Cleaning after your dog will also help in curbing the spread of diseases that might be transmitted from one dog to another through contact with excrement.
Do not let your dog bully or rough up other dogs
When going to the dog park make sure that the other owners are comfortable with your dog’s behaviour if it likes to play rough. This is because some owners own timid dogs and they might get upset if they see their dog getting bullied or getting involved in an intense, playful scrap. In that case do not let your dog off leash until the timid dogs leave the dog park. In the case of a very hyperactive dog, make sure to keep the dog under control by communicating with him regularly and keeping his boisterous nature in check.
Use a muzzle and warn the public when needed
Nervous dogs should wear a muzzle whatever their size. Whether the dog is big and strong, or small and yappy, a dog’s bite is always nasty. Seek the help of a professional dog trainer in order to eradicate this behaviour from your dog’s system. It is your responsibility to train your dog to be a confident, safe, reliable member of our society. Educate people at every opportunity about how to behave around nervous dogs. Putting a bright yellow ribbon on your dog’s leash is also an international symbol that communicates that the dog is volatile and possibly dangerous. Do your best to expose your dog to positive experiences, and train your dog to be more tolerable of novel, stressful situations in order for it to have more satisfying social interactions.
Teach your dog to not be too excited around people
As said before, as people aggregate in cities, people are becoming increasingly unfamiliar with animals and their behaviour. Train your dog not to climb on people as this behaviour often upsets people that are not comfortable with animals; and this boisterous behaviour will make them develop a certain distaste towards interacting with you and your dog. This will rapidly deteriorate your relationship with these people as they increasingly try to avoid you not because they dislike you as a person but because they find interacting with your dog makes them very uncomfortable.