Etiquette Rules for Dog Owners

Dog ownership comes with many benefits - but it also comes with responsibilities. Follow these 5 dog owner etiquette rules to keep everyone happy...

Dog ownership comes with many benefits, including always having a companion to play with, or cuddle up to for warmth. But it also comes with responsibilities, beyond just keeping your dog safe and healthy. You also have a responsibility to ensure that when you’re away from home, you’re following some common dog etiquette rules.

1. Pick up your pooch’s poop

This should be a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s still surprising how much dog poop you encounter on a walk through some neighbourhoods. Not only does it leave a mess that someone else can step into – or has to deal with when they mow the berm – it can also transmit bacteria and parasites that can infect any dog that sniffs or touches it. It can even make humans sick too. So, before you head out on a walk with your dog, make sure you’ve got poop bags with you, then dispose of your dog’s waste appropriately.

2. When walking the streets, have your dog on a leash

Depending on where you live in New Zealand, it’s common for dog bylaws to prohibit having a dog off-leash in public areas. In Auckland, for example, this is the case for sidewalks and streets, unless otherwise indicated. Not only can having a dog off-leash be against the rules, it can also cause issues when you come across other dogs, or people who may not be as big a fan of dogs as you are. So, when you’re walking your dog, make sure it’s on a leash or take it to your nearest off-leash area to let it run free safely.

3. Keep a check on their barking

While barking is natural for dogs and it’s one of the ways they communicate, excessive barking can become a nuisance. Take the time to teach your dog when it’s appropriate to bark (for example, when someone knocks on the door) and train them to respond to a command that tells them everything’s ok and their barking’s no longer needed.

It may also pay to check in with your neighbours if they’ve noticed any excessive barking while you’re away. While it may not be a nuisance for you, it definitely could be for your neighbours, and they’ll appreciate your consideration.

4. Know how to meet and greet

While it’s natural to want your dog to meet and play with another pooch you come across on your walks, it’s polite to check with the other dog owner first if it’s ok if your dog goes in for a sniff. The other dog may not be as friendly as yours, which could result in an unpleasant meeting. If the other dog owner is happy for the dogs to meet, keep the interaction short and watch both dog’s body language so you can step in if it looks like they may not be getting along.

5. Spay or neuter your pup

While it may feel unnatural to have your dog fixed, spaying and neutering can actually have added health benefits for your pooch and help them live longer. It can also help reduce the occurrence of certain behaviours like marking territory, or aggression towards other pets. You may also run into other challenges if you have an entire dog, like finding doggy daycare centres or boarding kennels that will take your dog.

Following these dog etiquette rules will keep you and your dog safe and happy and keep your neighbours happy about having a dog in their area too.