Walking an Urban Dog — Part 1

Walking an Urban Dog — Part 1

Part 1: On the street and in the apartment building

What follows is taken from The Dog House NYC training manual for our dog-walkers. We hope it will help all people walking their dogs in New York City.

Street Behavior – For you and your dog(s)

Safety first!

Make sure the collar is tight enough. It is a great shock, and a great danger, to have a dog slip its head out of a collar. Of course, you don’t want a collar that is too tight. You should be able to place two fingers flat between the collar and the dog’s neck.

Wait for the light at intersections. Don’t take the chance of crossing against the light.

Sometimes children or teenage boys or weird adults think it’s funny to scream, howl or bark at dogs, and often your dog will startle or even bolt. Just ignore the howlers, but speak reassuringly to your dog and keep a firm hand on the leash.

Other things that startle dogs include sudden loud noises, sudden movements, odd-acting people, skate boards and wheelchairs. Some dogs move to “attack” or “herd” people on bicycles or skate boards or even joggers. Keep all these things in mind until you know your dog well. Walking down the sidewalk is not a ho-hum activity with a dog.

Good Manners, Always

There are plenty of people out there who are truly afraid of dogs, many who just plain don’t like them, and some with legitimate concerns for their safety and that of small children. Go out of your way to placate them.

Hold your dog on a short leash. Don’t allow him to weave all over the sidewalk. Pull him back from other pedestrians. Apologize if he brushes up against someone or sniffs too intimately at their packages.

Children And Dogs

Children are usually fascinated by your dog(s), and many zoom up to you to pet them. Discourage any child from approaching your dog without asking you first. Tell them (and their parents) they have to ask first because not every dog likes children and you don’t want anyone to get hurt. If your dog cannot be trusted with a child (or if you’re not sure), say so. If your dog can be trusted with children, teach them to come up slowly and offer the back of their hand for the dog to sniff. Then they can pet the dog gently. Always in the back of your mind is (a) good public relations and (b) the consequences if your dog should nip a child.

The Leash Differential

If you have never experienced this phenomenon, you will soon enough. There is something about leashes that triggers something in some dogs. Some perfectly nice dogs go into an aggressive mode when encountering another dog, whether one or both is on a leash. Just don’t assume you can walk your dog up to another dog to say “hi” without being aware of this potential. Hold your leash firmly until you know which way the wind blows and be prepared to pull your dog back.

Apartment Behavior

When people are coming out the apartment building you are planning to enter, stand back and politely give them full right of way.

When waiting with a dog outside an apartment building, stand to one side of the entrance. It is mighty embarrassing to be caught in front of the entrance with a peeing dog.

When you are waiting for an elevator and other people come along to ride also, politely ask them if they mind riding with the dogs. If they say they do, or if they even look like they do, invite them to go up ahead of you. If you have been waiting for a long time already, make a judgment call about whether you can afford to wait any longer, and if not, say something to that effect to the later comers.

Be aware of the building management’s attitude toward dogs. Some buildings are so dog friendly, their doormen hand out bones. At the other extreme are buildings that post “No Dog” signs. As a general rule, do not go in and out of buildings with more than two dogs at a time.


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