Proper Dog Walking Etiquette [Do & Don't + Tips].jpg

Proper Dog Walking Etiquette [Do & Don’t + Tips]

Hey there fellow dog lovers! Ever wondered if there’s a right way to strut with your furry friend? In this guide, we’ll dive into the world of Dog Walking Etiquette. From leash manners to friendly greetings, let’s ensure our walks are tail-waggingly delightful for both us and our four-legged pals!

Do you enjoy going on evening strolls with your pet dog? Walking is an excellent way for pet dogs to get their everyday exercise needs; moreover, it is a good way for you to bond and have quality time with your furry friend.

When you take your dog out for a walk, there are certain dos and don’ts that you should adhere to. Proper dog walking etiquette allows your dog to be more obedient and disciplined; therefore, both your pet and yourself can enjoy the walks. What exactly is dog walking etiquette? To get a clear understanding, keep reading. 

Simply put, dog walking etiquette is the steps to follow to ensure the safety, enjoyment, and productivity of the walks with your pet dog. Dog walking etiquette includes how to handle the leash properly, how to guide the dog, how to use the sidewalks, and so forth.

Letting your dog go out and let them walk as they want, or just grabbing them using a leash without proper control, would not give a pleasant experience to the dog. On top of it, as the dog owner, you will also get exhausted if the dog acts out of control during their walks.

This is why every dog owner should familiarize themselves with dog walking etiquette and follow the ground rules to make the best of the walks. 

There are essential ground rules that you should follow when you take your pet dog for a walk. Also, there are things that you should avoid doing. Not everyone takes their dogs on walks the same way.

It is okay to follow convenient techniques; however, you must ensure that you follow the ground rules of proper walking etiquette. 

What are the ground rules of dog walking etiquette?

Every dog owner starts their dog parenting journey as an amateur. So, at first, it is expected that many dog owners need clarification about several things regarding raising a dog.

Walking etiquette might sound perplexing, yet it consists of simple rules and regulations that you should follow. If you do a small background check on the dog walking etiquette before taking your dog for walks, you will quickly get the hang of it.

As mentioned, it is necessary to follow the basics of dog walking etiquette to ensure the quality and safety of the walks. Below, you can find the ground rules of dog walking etiquette. 

  • Using a leash 

Using a leash is the fundamental yet most crucial ground rule of dog walking etiquette. Simply put, a leash is similar to a rope pinned to a collar or a harness, allowing you to control and navigate the dog during the walks.

Remember that you should be aware of how to use the leash properly, or else it could make the dog uncomfortable, making the walking an unpleasant experience.

It is a must to train your dog to walk with a leash because when you take the dog out, there are other animals and people that the dog will encounter, and you cannot predict how the dog will react to them and vice versa.

So, for the safety of everyone, you must take your dog for walks using a leash. Leash training is simple; take one step at a time without rushing the dog. First, introduce them to the collar and leash.

Make them wear a collar until they are comfortable, and then you can use a leash and make them walk within the home. You must get your dog’s attention when leash training.

Dogs usually love to go on walks, so convince the dog that a leash is a must for walks; that way, you don’t have to force your dog to wear the leash; it will spontaneously come at it.

Once you feel the dog is comfortable with the leash, you can take them outside for walks, increasing the distance.

  • Use the sidewalks 

There are parks and similar places where you can take your dog on walks freely, but when you use the road, you should always use the sidewalks. When taking your dog on the sidewalk, it is essential to pay attention to the dog’s safety as well as others’ safety.

In the previous section, we discussed the use of the leash. On the sidewalks, be mindful of the length of the leash. If people are walking close, hold the leash tight and keep the dog closer to you.

Your dog might poop during their walks. If so, make sure to clean it. Your dog is your responsibility, so do not simply ignore cleaning it. 

  • Be patient and respectful 

At the end of the day, your pet dog is an animal, so you cannot get mad if they do something mischievous. Assume your dog did something unwanted during the walks; do not be harsh to them or punish them.

Patience is the key to helping your dog to overcome unacceptable behavior. As much as you are patient with the dog, you should be respectful of others. While some people are fans of dogs, others might not, so if your dog tries to go into other people’s properties during walks, it might not make them happy.

So, in such cases, you must convince the dog that it is doing something unnecessary. Being patient does not mean allowing the dog to do whatever they want. You should act smart and address the situation. 

What should you do when walking a dog?

As mentioned earlier, walking is essential for dogs due to many reasons. In the previous section, we discussed the fundamental rules of dog walking etiquette. Now, let’s further look into actions you should follow when walking a dog. 

Adhering to the ground rules of walking etiquette is a must; apart from them, you should pay attention to several other things to enhance the productivity of the walks. Before taking your dog out, check if the leash is tight enough.

Also, you should adjust the length according to your pet’s size, making it easier for you to control the dog. While walking, keeping the leash close to your body is essential. 

During the walks, make sure you take the lead instead of letting the dog go in the direction it prefers. Assure the dog that it should always follow your orders.

You can use positive reinforcement to make the dog more obedient during the walks. You can keep some dog treats with you and reward their good behavior during or after the walks. However, make sure to reward them only when needed. 

It is also essential to decide on the duration of the walks; if you feel that your dog is tired during the walks, find a shady area and let the dog rest for a bit. 

What should you not do when walking a dog?

There are dos to follow when taking your dog for a walk and certain don’ts. Below are some common things you should avoid when walking a dog. 

As said earlier, it is essential to adjust the length of the leash and keep the dog closer to you, but just because you need to do that, do not use a short leash. If the leash is too short, the dog may find walking difficult.

However, you should also not make it too long. So be mindful of the leash length according to the situation. It is also essential not to pull the leash hard or let the dog go off it.

During the walks, you should ensure the dog behaves itself, but you should not stop them from sniffing and exploring things. Dogs are curious creatures.

When they get out of the house, many things ignite their curiosity. Sniffing is the primary way that dogs explore things, and it also helps them with brain functioning. Let the dog sniff if there is no harm; do not say no. 

There are strangers outside your home that your dog will meet during walks; never let the dog get close to them. You may have a friendly dog, but dogs could act differently outside the home. Therefore, do not let them get close to other people or animals during the walks. 

You have to pay attention to the weather conditions when taking your dog for a walk. If the weather condition is too extreme, avoid taking them out. Or take the necessary precautions and keep the walks short.

Too warm and cold weather conditions could make the dog uncomfortable, even sick, depending on their ability to deal with temperatures. 

Should dogs walk beside you or in front of you?

According to dog walking etiquette, the dog should stay beside you during the walks. When the dog stays beside you, it will be easier for you to take the lead. Dogs can be dominant animals by nature.

If you let the dog walk in front of you, the dog will not consider you the pack leader. Your dog must view you as their alpha or the pack leader. So keep them beside you during walks. 

Final thoughts 

In this article, we talked about dog walking etiquette. Following proper etiquette to walk your dog is not as complex as it sounds.

All you should do is follow the dos and don’ts accordingly to make the walks enjoyable, productive, and safe. 


  • Dominic Parker

    Dominic P. is a dog behavioral researcher who graduated from the University of Surrey and holds BVMsi (Hons) in Veterinary Medicine and Science. He has been around dogs since childhood and has unconditional love for dogs. It makes him become a researcher instead of practicing as a veterinarian. Dominic enjoys his work and likes to share his findings with dog parents to give them a better understanding of dogs’ behaviors.

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