Whether he is known to your neighbors as ‘man’s best friend’ or the ‘beast next door’ is up to you–to practice proper dog ownership etiquette is to show consideration for the needs and feelings of those living around you.
Think Like a Parent
Fortunately, your neighbors and your fur baby long for the same thing: doggy obedience training. As children find predictable behavior secure and reassuring, dogs also lead more fulfilling and happy lives when owners establish clear boundaries. Therefore, when setting disciplinary expectations for your dog, think like a mom or dad. If you wouldn’t allow your three-year-old child to act in a certain way, such behavior should be off limits for your dog as well. For example, you would be mortified if you caught your child wandering into the neighbor’s yard and harassing their cat, relieving themselves anywhere but their designated spot, tackling a passerby on the street, etc. While your dog is young, consider obedience school. Rather than punishment, formal training is a ticket to go anywhere, greet anyone, and be adored for their good behavior.
Dog Ownership Etiquette
If you are blessed with a spacious backyard, allow your dog the freedom to explore outdoors without becoming a danger to himself or a nuisance to others by installing a wood fence, which averages $769 – $1,708 in nearby Phoenix, according to HomeAdvisor. Open backyards risk your dog’s escape from your supervision, often resulting in tragic consequences such as injury or loss, or neighborhood annoyances such as property damage, for which you will be financially responsible.
Avoiding the installation of a fence by confining your dog to the indoors isn’t solution, especially if you own a large or active breed. Dogs require regular exercise and mental stimulation, without which they usually release pent up energy through chewing, digging and, the most aggravating to your neighbors, barking. To prevent such frustration, incorporate the following activities into their daily routine:
- Teach your dog a few commands or tricks, such as sitting, shaking or fetching a ball. Hold a training lesson for about five to 10 minutes every day.
- Provide interesting toys to keep your dog occupied, and rotate them every few days in order to make the toys appear new and exciting.
- Walk your dog daily. Doing so is physically and mentally stimulating for both of you.
Make the daily walk a pleasant experience for you, your dog and those with whom you will come into contact. Always leash your dog when walking, and maintain control of him at all times. Only allow him to greet strangers if they initiate contact, especially if they too are walking a dog. If allowed to approach the passerby, discourage the dogs from playing while leashed, which can result in injury and your dog’s confusion about expectations for walking discipline. Simply let the dogs introduce themselves to one another by sniffing for a few seconds and continue on with your walk. Be aware of others’ feelings–if during any interaction your dog upsets another person or dog by jumping, barking or growling, apologize and take measures to prevent the behavior from recurring. Lastly, always clean up after your dog. Bring along several bags, scoop the poop no matter what, and never permit your dog to relieve himself on personal property, such as car tires, bicycles or children’s toys.
Note that your dog’s need for adequate attention remains even when your schedule prohibits. If you must be away from home for extended periods of time, consider employing a trained and evaluated dog walker or sitter. They’ll keep your dog safe and allow your dog the exercise he needs in order to burn off some energy.
Both your neighbors and your dog will appreciate your efforts to abide by proper dog ownership etiquette. Do so to ensure healthy neighborhood relationships and a happy dog.
*Written by Jessica Brody