Tuesday, November 20, 2012

City Dog: Respectful Dog Walking in the City

Since so many people have misconceptions about pitbull-type dogs, we feel like when we're out we're always in the spotlight. Too often, people will judge the entire breed based on their experience with a single dog, so we work extra hard to encourage positive interactions  allowing people to go beyond the stereotype. While we do rely on our pups to be good spokesdogs, we also remember we need to be self-aware and respectful dog owners. Especially in the city where the sidewalks are small, the people are many, and not everyone likes dogs.
The other day a woman stopped E when he was walking the dogs to tell him that she really admired how well-behaved and under control our dogs were. She told him that she was bitten by a dog at a young age and she has always been scared of dogs, but she had seen us walking several times and she really appreciated how respectful we were of the community, especially since there are so many people in our neighborhood who do let their dogs run at whim.
Here are some things we've learned about being respectful dog owners in a busy city:

Stay to Your Side:
We know some people just don't like dogs, so we're always aware of sidewalk space in front of us and behind us. Even on family walk, we never walk side-by-side and we allow space for people to comfortably pass. We walk our dogs on the grass side only allowing ourselves to walk next to the people. When the pooches stop to sit at corners, we always make sure they are on sitting on the same side so people can walk around us, and if people stop to meet the dogs we always make sure to move to the side so we're not holding up pedestrian traffic. I also make sure when I'm picking up their poo they remain in a sit-stay on our side of the sidewalk so people can still feel comfortable passing.

The Sidewalk Dance:
There is an unwritten sidewalk code among respectful dog owners. If someone is walking their dog on the sidewalk already, it's their sidewalk and you need to either walk around or cross to the other side.
If you have a sidewalk but someone is approaching walking 2 dogs, walking with a dog and a child, or they just can't seem to control their dog (including large men with 20lb pups) give them the sidewalk. Always doublecheck before turning corners in case someone is there. Don't allow your dog to stop in the middle of the sidewalk and stare down other dogs.

Awareness in Public Spaces:
We love to show how we take our dogs to busy active events like markets, street festivals, and parades, but we are always aware of other people's space. We don't allow our pups to meander in front of us or walk outstretched on their leashes: we always keep them with us at our side. We don't allow them to meet other dogs, with the potential to'play on leash', knowing how loud and disruptive it is for people walking by.

These are some things that work for us.
What are some other ways you demonstrate responsible ownership when out with your pooches?

Training our dogs to walk in the busy city
Preparing your pup for a street festival
Our thoughts for new pitbull owners


Anonymous said...

Great post, dog walking is more than just a leash and you with your dog. There really are a lot of other things to consider and I'll admit I do get a bit irritated when other people don't follow these unspoken rules.

And, it's really cool that the lady stopped you and told you how great your pups are.

Susan said...

Great post, beautiful photos...my husband and I recently adopted a lab/pitt mix puppy, and he's the sweetest dog, haven't worked too much on leash training yet but I'm sure we'll be started that soon.
Love your blog...will definitely be visiting again soon...

Two French Bulldogs said...

You guys definitely are a great representation of pitties
Benny & Lily

Trissi_V said...

I wish everyone followed your example, pittie or not. I have seen so many small dogs that don't know how to walk on leash and are allowed to walk 20 feet ahead of their owners. We work hard on the proper manners while walking our dogs and people judge us like our dogs are vicious when we cross a street because we don't want to deal with little Pepe nipping our babies.

I am surprised that you are able to walk your dogs at all...I can only imagine you get stopped every 20 ft. by someone wanting a picture or a paw-tograph or telling you how awesome they are since they are such pup-lebrities.

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

Great post! I also try to get Zoe to do a lot of check-ins with me -- both so she can stay focused on me and so others can see her as non-threatening. (You know how she does the "prance" walk when I get her to pay attention to me). :)

Anonymous said...

These are very good rules for walking in busy places. My mom has taught me to follow these rules; sometimes I wish other dogs would follow them too.

I like other dogs, but it is hard not to get excited when they rush up to my face on one of those long stretchy leashes.

And I have been attacked by other dogs before too. I did not fight back, but I sure would like to avoid being attacked again! I get a little worried when people aren't paying any attention to their pups...

My Two Pitties said...

Great points! It's rare that we go on leash-walks, but we definitely practice the same things when we do. Even off leash, we practice a lot of listening and respecting the space of other people and dogs if they are not interested. I use the "here" command which is kind of like their invisible leashes until I say "free". It's funny, sometimes Kaya puts herself in position by my side I think just so I can tell her to be free again:D

wewalkdogs said...
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