There are many aspects to being a responsible pet owner; providing a safe and loving environment, healthy diet, proper exercise, and more. But being a good pet owner extends beyond your pet’s personal needs. Especially in the case of owning dogs, being a good pet owner means being considerate of your neighbours and community.
Here are our top 5 tips for being a good pet-owning neighbour:
Pick Up the Poop!
Among other things, dog owners are legally responsible for their dog’s poop.
No one enjoys picking up dog poop; this is especially true if it didn’t come from your dog. This is notably problematic for homeowners living on corner lots. When out for a walk with your pooch, please be respectful of other people’s property. If you happen to forget a pickup bag, there is no shame in knocking on a neighbour’s door to kindly ask for one. Any homeowner will gladly hand over a spare bag, rather than have an un-neighbourly mess left behind.
Be Respectful of Barking
Just as your neighbours don’t want to pick up your dog’s poop, they also don’t want to listen to barking for extended periods of time. Excessive barking is disruptive to anyone in earshot; kids napping, people on shiftwork, or even nearby households with open windows. If your dog has a vocalizing issue, speak with a professional trainer for a positive long-term resolution. Yelling over a dog to stop this behaviour is counter-productive and only leads to more frustration.
In Social Situations
Most people are kind, loving, and delighted to spend a few moments socializing with a friendly dog. However, not everyone likes dogs. Many people are fearful of dogs, or simply don’t feel like socializing. While you love your dog with all your heart, it’s unrealistic to assume everyone else feels the same way. When out for a walk, before letting your dog approach another person or their pet, ask for permission first. If someone declines to socialize with your dog, or says their dog isn’t friendly, be respectful of their choice.
It is very important to be aware of your dog’s body language at all times. Body language tells us everything we need to know about how well a dog is responding to the stimuli in their vicinity. It sounds so simple, yet this is often overlooked by a large segment of today’s dog owners.
Example: It is a familiar situation to witness a leashed dog continually lunge at other dogs or children on a skateboard or scooter. Leash aggression is a common behavioural problem in dogs, and is easily remedied with the help of a capable obedience professional. Without correcting such dangerous behaviours, these dogs are at high risk of injuring a person or their pet.
Secure Your Yard
A roaming dog is bad news for the surrounding community.
Having a properly enclosed yard is essential for your dog’s safety. Don’t have a fence? No problem! There are many options to secure your pooch to a strong tether or tie out apparatus. Many dogs will try to escape by exploiting weaknesses in their perimeter, like loose fence boards or unsecure gate latches. Once a dog is loose on their own, their safety and the safety of others may be at risk. Be proactive and regularly inspect your yard to address any areas requiring attention.
Be Friendly and Compassionate
You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, right?
Not everyone has a perfectly well-behaved dog. Even the most obedient and reliable canines have their not-so-great moments. It’s okay to communicate your concerns with your neighbours as long as you do it in a friendly, respecting manner.
If you have an overly vocal dog (for example), and a neighbour complains, hear them out and be kind when addressing their concerns. Better yet, be preemptive and speak with your neighbours ahead of time; acknowledge the problem and explain how you’re working to resolve the issue. This will go a long way to keeping the peace with those who live closest to you.
Whether you live on rural farmland, or in the inner city, we all have to do our part in being respectful of our community. Being a responsible pet owner means leading by example and giving special consideration to the impact our actions have on those around us, people and pets alike.
Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert - is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, a family-owned and -operated business located in Meaford. He has over twenty years' experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour and lifestyle. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at www.CanadianPetConnection.com.