Tuesday, June 11, 2013

City Dog: The Unspoken Rules For Dog Owners

After reading this article about some of the 'unwritten rules' all Chicagoans know, it made me think about some of the unwritten rules followed by responsible dog owners in the city. Looking back, it may have taken me a bit to catch on, but here are some things we've learned after owning our pups for a few years:

The Sidewalk Dance:
We've learned about this unwritten code among fellow dog owners. If someone is already on the sidewalk it's "their" sidewalk and you should cross to the other side. If you have a sidewalk but someone is approaching who is walking more dogs than you, having a harder time walking their dog (yes, even big men with small dogs), or has a dog and a child it's polite to give up your sidewalk to them and cross over. Don't allow your pup to turn a corner ahead of you without looking in case there is another dog approaching. Don't allow your dog to stop in the middle of the sidewalk and stare down other dogs. If someone is cleaning up dog poo, you will never approach them with your dog.

Walk in the Strip:
We always walk our dogs on our left side, so we choose the sidewalks where the dogs can use the grass strip between the road and the sidewalk. We are always aware to avoid the strips where they are trying to grow flowers. We also make sure to bring bags with us at all times to pick up the dog poo.

Clear the Sidewalk:
We are always aware that even though we love our pups, we also know not everyone wants to meet our dogs. We always make sure to keep our pooches at our side on crowded sidewalks and during busy festivals. E and I walk single file on city sidewalks so people can get around us. 

What are some other 'unspoken rules' you've learned as dog owners?



Unknown said...

I live in a small town in Indiana and I WISH more people knew these 'unwritten rules'. I can't count the number of times I've had to pause/cross over during a walk or run with our dogs to prevent running into someone who is completely oblivious (or riding their bike on the sidewalk)!

OG said...

This is a great post! The NYC dog walkers with big groups follow these rules but they should be required reading for everyone else!

domesticgoddesse said...

Yes, these are all great rules! I would also add that on-leash greetings are not allowed on our walks. What I wish is that everyone else would know about these unwritten rules such as: if you're riding your bike on the sidewalk and come up behind me, please give me advance notice ("on your left!") before whooshing past me and my unexpecting dogs. They like to chase things that move. I'm happy to move to the side, but I need to know! Stink-eye from you is not preferable. :-)
Also, as an addendum to the approaching dogs while scooping, I do wish that people without dogs would also refrain from trying to pet my dogs while I'm stooping and scooping. My dogs' "leave it" and "wait" commands aren't good enough to ignore their approaching new best friends...
I will say I've gotten countless "thank yous" from people when I step aside to let them pass my dogs and me on a sidewalk. It really is appreciated.
Great post!

ReganWoodPhotography said...

I'm also a big believer in NOT letting your dog approach any other without asking first. Especially if it looks like they're training I.e. you see treats or sitting or commands being does out.

j said...

Um... So you never walk your dog past another dog? I get if your pup has issues, but if not, it's EVERYONE's sidewalk, and shouldn't pups be socialized to be able to keep walking (ideally).

Otherwise duh, no long leashes and really kids should be taught to ask if they can pet a strange dog.

Anonymous said...

Great rules, so many people haven't seemed to figure them out or don't care to!

Two French Bulldogs said...

Those are good rules. Once our friend turned a corner before her mom and a big doggy was there
Benny & Lily

Two Pitties in the City said...

@J--It's not about whether my dog is able to walk past another dog, but being respectful of other people who need space and may not want their dog to interact with my dog. It's not fair for someone who has a hard time walking their dog for me to walk by just because I want to "practice". Also, most of us don't have backyards and our walks are a necessity rather than a luxury. When we're out there doing the 6:30am walk before work, we all understand we don't have time to stop and have interactions with every dog we see. I probably see at least 17 dogs on my morning walk. And you're right, I don't walk my dog past another dog if I can avoid it. Besides being respectful of other people's space, I don't think it's safe for dogs to play and wrestle while on leash. We don't allow our dog to meet on leash because then they might expect to meet every single dog we see; there are 30 dogs on my block alone. Instead we use our walking as training to focus on me and away from distractions. We might be crossing the street because another dog is coming, but I'm not training my dogs to be "unsocial", I'm training them to be aware and focus attention on me even if I am weaving in and out of the streets and regardless of all types of distractions. I don't think head to head dog meetings are comfortable and appropriate for dogs. We work on dog socialization in other ways like walking with friends we already know or going on our SociaBulls walks. Yes, technically it's EVERYONE's sidewalk, but the whole idea is about respect and being aware of the needs of people around you to create a more positive community. Especially in the city when we're all living together in such a small space.

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