Dogs help us connect to others in our communities and neighborhoods. Taking your dog for a walk is not only great exercise, it is a great way to meet people. By following a few simple rules, you and your dog will not only be appreciated by others in your community, you will set an example of what it means to be a good dog owner.

The only time your dog should be off-leash is if you are in an off-leash area. Otherwise, keep your dog on her leash when walking in your neighborhood. Any number of things can happen while you are walking your dog. She could get startled and run off. If you are walking your dog in a neighborhood, chances are you will run into other people. There are people who are afraid of dogs or who do not wish to be approached by a strange dog regardless of how cute he is. Having your dog on a leash is not only safer, it is the responsible choice.

Always be respectful of your neighbor’s yard. Lawn care is expensive and time consuming. Some lawn chemicals are not safe for dogs. Fertilizers may cause pets mild stomach upset. Insecticides can cause significant harm and even death to pets. Dog pee kills lawns. Dog poop is harmful to the environment. It can contain viruses, bacteria and parasites as well as harmful pathogens such as e coli, giardia, and salmonella. Children play in lawns. People walk across lawns. No one wants to step in dog poop. Be a responsible pet owner and always pick up your dog’s poop.

As the adult in the relationship with your dog, remember you are responsible so always pay attention to her behavior and interactions with people and dogs. Don’t let him jump on other people. Don’t let her get too close to other dogs until you can be more certain the interaction will be friendly. If you sense an encounter with another person or dog is becoming unfriendly, act accordingly.

Dog walking can be a social activity which allows us the opportunity to chat with our neighbors, meet new people and discover fellow dog lovers. However, be aware if another dog is eliminating. Some dogs get frustrated if another dog interrupts while he is trying to pee or poop. This interruption may cause their owners to feel somewhat annoyed especially if their time is limited. Be courteous and respectful of others and do not take it personally if another dog walker does not meet your eyes and continues on his way. Focus on the benefits being outside in the fresh air getting exercise provides to you and your dog. Give yourself a pat on the back but only after you pick up the dog poop.