Community Blog

Five Rules of Dog Etiquette

What you need to know.

What you need to know.

We received this article from an Aldea resident. According to her:

I think this article is worth sharing with the many dog owners in Aldea. While many of our dog owners do observe these points, there are some that need a little reminding.

Hope you agree.

This article appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican under the Column of Hersch Wilson - Tales of Tails

Etiquette (definition): The customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.

I am not an etiquette kind of guy. I don’t always reply to emails promptly, I often find myself on my phone while eating with the family and more than once I’ve forgotten the name of someone while I am still talking to them.

At the urging of friends and spouse, I am working on getting better at all these social gaffes. This column is written in that spirit, and that all in all, we are good people, but occasionally we need a little guidance in etiquette.

We are members of a group called dog owners, and there are etiquette rules that we need to obey to make sure that our canines are “good citizens” so that we don’t drive our innocent and occasional non-dog-loving neighbors insane.

Having driven neighbors to near tears, I speak from experience. There are five simple rules to follow that will keep you, your dog and neighbors happy.

1. Clean up the poop

Whether it’s your yard, the road where you walk your dog, the dog park or a national park, please pick up the poop. It’s disgusting, it’s unhealthy and a nuisance. Get a pooper scooper for your yard, bring poop bags everywhere you go with your dogs and clean up. Also, on national forest trails, don’t just leave bags of poop for someone else to pick up. There are no national park poop rangers. We have to clean up after our dogs ourselves, people. If you need help here, remember this is why you have children, to clean up the dog poop.

2. Barking

In the interests of world peace, it is vital that you don’t allow your dog to bark incessantly while you are away or at night. (Or anytime, actually). Every neighborhood seems to have that one lonely, upset or anxious dog that barks continuously. Don’t let that dog be yours. It takes work, but there are plenty of training available online and through local resources to help your dog not keep the neighbors up all night.

3. Leashes

I know I will get push back on this one. I realize that when you get a dog, you had dreams of striding down the road with Rin Tin Tin obediently by your side, obeying your every command, and a canine friend to all. That describes maybe one out of every 10 dogs.

Most dogs are curious, protective and easily distracted (Squirrel! Rabbit! People!). And hard to believe, but there are people that you might meet on a trail or the road who are not interested in having your dog up close and personal. So keep them on a leash. In many places, it’s also the law. If you want to run your dog off-leash, there are dog parks and some open wilderness spaces (but I always worry about a dog running off in the mountains).

4. Socialize

Nothing will pay larger dividends then socializing your dog, especially when they are young. Get them out with people, invite people to your home and have socializing parties with other dog owners. Socialized dogs are less anxious and less likely to be annoying or worse, scared. A scared dog can cause all sorts of problems (barking, growling and nipping).

In the same vein, especially with puppies, make sure that they are comfortable being petted and touched all over their bodies.

5. Exercise

Dogs need exercise. Our dogs are an exception to this rule. Their idea of exercise is to trot to their favorite napping place, collapse, and sleep. But most dogs need walks. They need to run and to play. An exercised dog is going to be less neurotic and more relaxed. A tired dog is a happy dog.

This is the secret goal of exercise: to develop happy and tired dogs, who once their morning jaunt is over, they want nothing more but to sleep and allow the people, who work at home to get stuff done or watch the Women’s World Cup without having to continually play “toss the toy.”

I will end this by mentioning that as a dog owner, I certainly suffer lapses in dog etiquette. But the goal is to get up every day and try to do our best.