Responsible Dog Walking: A Great Way to Build Community

A Dog Friendly Community

Now that spring is here, you can see people from all around your neighbourhood getting out and enjoying the sun, and many will have their furry family members with them. It’s perfect weather for walking the dog, and everyone who has one is out and about.

However, as enjoyable as a walk with your dog can be, it can go sour very fast if everyone isn’t doing their best to be responsible dog owners.

Being a good neighbour and making sure that everyone can walk their dogs safely and respectfully is a great way to build trust and camaraderie within your community.

Here are some ways you can help keep your community dog friendly.

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Stay on Lead

One of the most important things you can do to make sure you are being respectful is keeping your dog on a lead while walking through your neighbourhood.

Most neighbourhoods require that dogs be on lead any time your dog is in a public space like pavements and local parks, and even in unfenced areas on personal property. These rules are in place because dogs, no matter how well we think they’re trained, can be unpredictable.

Even if you feel your dog is perfectly trained, some dogs are stressed by seeing other dogs walking or running around off lead, and their owners may specifically walk them in areas that specified as on lead because of those anxieties. Be respectful and always follow lead rules — you are not above the laws put in place to keep everyone safe.

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Pick up After Your Dog

Nothing ruins an otherwise nice walk like the surprise of stepping in a pile of poop from someone else’s dog. It goes without saying that if you hate when this to happens to you, don’t let it happen to your neighbours because of your dog.

Always keep multiple bags with you so you can pick up after your dog does their business … however many times that ends up being. You can reuse grocery bags or keep a roll of biodegradable dog waste bags on you at all times during your neighbourhood walks and any other outings.

If you’re feeling real neighbourly, pick up any dog piles you come across while out on your walk. There are always going to be those people who don’t take care of their own dog’s waste, but there’s not much you can do to put a stop to their ignorance. What you can do is pick up what you find and help keep your neighbourhood “land mine” free and looking great.

 

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Understand Dog Body Language

When you come across others walking their dogs when you’re out, it’s vitally important that you’re able to understand dog body language. When you are aware of how a dog typically acts when nervous, scared, relaxed, or playful, you can make good choices when you encounter other dogs.

Even if your dog is the friendliest dog on the planet, other dogs might still need some space to keep everyone safe.

If you notice a dog down the block that seems tense at the site of your dog, or if you know your dog gets agitated by other dogs, it might be best to cross the road or take another route to give space and keep neighbourhood walks pleasant for everyone.

 

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Start a Neighbourhood Dog Walking Group

If your dog is other-dog friendly, and you also prefer a chatty walk, consider putting together a neighbourhood dog walking group. This is a fun way to get to know your neighbours better and build a sense of community in your area.

It’s becoming more and more common for neighbourhoods to have their own online meeting place on social media, such as a Facebook or a Meetup group. Search for one of these groups, and if it doesn’t already exist, create one and encourage your neighbours to join.

Not only can you use these groups to organise neighbourhood dog walks, but group members can use the space to talk about other community involvement ideas and events.

 

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Enjoying the weather and getting out with your dog is a wonderful way to pass the time and get some exercise.

Make sure you’re being a good neighbour by keeping your dog on a lead at all times, picking up after them, and understanding their behaviour with others.

Organising a neighbourhood walking group or sharing other pet-related events is a great way to build a community in your area — but even if you are more of a recluse, just being respectful of your neighbourhood and of others when you are out with your dog will be appreciated by everyone.