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The Unspoken Rules of Dog Walking

Part of my daily routine is taking the always-eager-to-g0-outside Jasper on at least three walks, and sometimes more depending on whether or not I have to work or other plans.

Over the course of all of these walks I’ve learned a few “rules” of proper behavior while out walking with a dog. I’ve never heard these little rules spoken or read them anywhere, but observing others also out with their dogs makes me think I might be on to something with my observations.

And I’m not sure if these are really rules (as far as I know there isn’t any kind of scoring or discipline system in place to monitor these things) or just polite behavior, so I’ll list out my observations and let you be the judge.

Observation 1: It’s acceptable to stop and chit-chat with other dog walkers, but only if the dogs aren’t trying to attack each other. This one is a no-brainer, since it gives the animals a few minutes to socialize (hopefully with a similar size dog) and breaks up some of the monotony that happens from taking the same route every day. I wouldn’t say I’ve formed any actual friendships from stopping to exchange a little small talk, but I have at least made some acquaintances that I know will be a friendly face on future walks.

Observation 2: Sharing the pet’s name is fine and usually happens during a first meeting, but rarely is it okay to share names with the other humans.  While stopping to let the dogs play together, Jasper has managed to meet most of the other more active dogs in the neighborhood, and when approaching them out with their owners, I usually know the other dog’s name (and the other owners know Jasper), but have never thought to introduce myself or ask the other dog walkers what their names are, and at this point it seems like trying to make an introduction would seem forced or strange. Also, with it being colder outside, people aren’t as willing to stop and are in a hurry to get back inside their warm homes.

Observation 3: Owners of the larger dog usually take the first step towards preventing a possible confrontation, either by crossing the street or changing directions prior to both dogs coming in contact with each other. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve noticed the same dog owners intentionally changing their path when they see Jasper and I, or other people with small dogs heading their way. I’m not sure if these other people have had bad experiences with trying to introduce their dogs to others in the past, or if they are just being overly cautious, but I appreciate them literally going out of their way if it keeps Jasper safe.

Observation 4: Small dog owners instinctually pick up their pet when “barking wars” begin, or in the event of a “confrontation” with a larger or more aggressive dog. My last rule/observation isn’t necessarily something I see a lot of other people doing, but I know I’ve done this multiple times with Jasper. Sometimes he can be a little skittish, or frankly even a little bit of a douchey loudmouth sometimes, and when this happens, my first instinct is to pick him up and make him shut up. I think if the barking is annoying to me, it must be exponentially more annoying to other passerby, and the only polite thing to do is make the noise-maker be quiet.

I’m sure there are other “rules” for dog-walking out there, but these are the one most noticeable to me. Have you ever made any of these same observations, or have something to add to my list?

 

 

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