Dog Walking Etiquette

Walking your dog can be a way to relax or a chore, but it can also be full of potential etiquette faux pas. Modern Manners Guy has 3 tips to make sure your neighborhood walks with Fido don’t become a breeding ground for bad manners.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #202

My good friend The Dog Trainer knows her stuff when it comes to our four-legged family members. And as an avid reader of her articles, I always trust her solid advice and work put it into practice. So when I walk my own dog around the neighborhood, I can’t help but notice how some people prefer to walk theirs. Most do it properly—with leashes, bags for waste, and their dogs close by. Yet others treat the entire neighborhood as their personal playground, and even worse, their toilet!>


Not everyone is a pet lover like The Dog Trainer and myself, and you need to keep that in mind when walking your dog in the neighborhood. So before you grab your leash and head outside, check out my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for neighborhood dog walking etiquette:

Tip #1: Not Everyone Loves Your Pet

My dog is the perfect example of “man’s best friend.” He never leaves my side, flips out when I walk in the door, and loves nothing more than for me to give him attention. I’ve had him since he was 2 months old (he’s now a robust 8-year-old) and have loved him to pieces ever since that day. However, I know very well that not everyone is as fond of my pet as I am. He’s a beagle with a howl that can wake up everyone in the neighborhood. If you have food around you, chances are he’s going to think it’s his. Anything that is paper will surely suffer his wrath, and be ripped into little shreds. And when I take him for a walk, I know that he can pull me like an Alaskan dog sled team, so I have to keep him on a tight leash.  

In other words, I know exactly what I have on my hands and I recognize that he’s not the best trained dog in the world. So, I adapt my handling of him to make sure he doesn’t bother others. Does this seem self-evident to you? To me, too. And yet, I’m constantly shocked to see people who think that their dog is superior—to everyone! They let their precious pup run free, as they slowly walk 10-20 yards behind. Why? Oh because, their dog stops on command.

Newsflash: He won’t! At least not necessarily. And probably not always.

Just because you love your dog, doesn’t mean that everyone else would also enjoy a sloppy kiss or paws on their shoulders. Remember: Your dog is your best friend, no one else’s. It’s improper to assume that he is loved by everyone in the neighborhood. So keep him close, leashed, and don’t allow him to run up (or onto) others. And if someone wants to pet him, they will ask.

Another newsflash: People don’t HAVE to love your dog.

I know, crazy!

Tip #2: Use a Leash

As I said in Tip #1, I’ve never understood why people think their dog can go leash-free in a residential neighborhood. Just the other day, I’m cutting the lawn while my daughter is on our swing and a large dog comes storming around the back, running up and down the lawns. Granted, this dog looked harmless, but it totally caught me by surprise and scared my daughter. A dog (like a person) can change its mind faster than a child at a toy store, and it’s not a good idea to assume that your dog will always listen to you and think before he acts. As well, what’s to stop that furball from thinking that ice cream cone in your child’s hand should be theirs? Trust me, my dog wouldn’t think twice about it.

Leashes were not invented as a fad. They are not just some crazy device to hold back a dog’s love for freedom. They are used to keep your pet, and others around you, safe. One time my dog got loose from me and it took me 20 minutes to finally chase him down. He loved every minute of the escape, but thankfully no one was having a picnic. If they were, it would have been ruined by a manic beagle. If you want your dog to run free and feel the wind through his wagging tail, then get a fence. Or take him to a park that allows just that.