Recreational Etiquette for dog owners and handlers.
On city streets and at farmer’s markets; on hiking trails, at restaurants and rec centers; dogs are on the move. At no other point in history have dogs been such an integral part of public life. How does this new inclusion of dogs impact those around us? Whether you’re a dog lover, or frequent canine avoider, most of us agree that with freedom comes responsibility. For those choosing to recreate with dogs it is our responsibility to abide by rules of good judgement and owner etiquette. The rules can be summed up with two old adages: “Do no harm” and “Leave no trace”. And let’s face it, as much as we love our four legged friends, not everyone shares our sentiments.
1) Do No Harm
Is your dog safe? In all likelihood you or someone you know can recount a scary story of meeting an unfriendly dog on a trail or at a public venue. Responsible dog ownership demands that unless your dog has a rock solid recall, they should not be off leash. Even if your dog isn’t overtly aggressive, it is rude to have your dog charge up to hikers or on-leash dogs. To many, being accosted by an off-leash dog is an infringement of their right to enjoy a peaceful walk or bike ride. Unless your dog will return immediately when called in a highly distracting environment, keep them on leash. Not so good recall? Invest in a training class or targeted recall workshop. If you choose to use a flexi-leash, remember to shorten and lock it when passing people and other pets. If your pet is reactive (barking, lunging, etc) step off the road or path and body block your dog’s vision, or retreat to a distance where they are non-reactive.
2) Leave No Trace
Sanitation– Nobody likes picking up poop, but regardless of its location (private yard, public park or wooded path), a responsible dog owner dons the proper protection and scoops that poop! Dog waste is an environmental pollutant. The EPA has placed dog waste in the same health category as oil and toxic chemicals. Dog waste does not just decompose. It carries harmful nutrients and pathogens in the process, polluting waters and transmitting disease. Use biodegradable poop bags to limit your carbon footprint further.
Do your part to be a good steward. Share the trail safely and respectfully, leaving only pawprints and positive memories.