Manners Matter: Proper Dog Walking Etiquette

In honor of National Pet Month, I thought I would share my thoughts on Proper Dog Walking Etiquette!

I am happy to talk about this subject because I believe proper dog walking etiquette can keep all the neighborhood pets safe. So here are a few points I consider crucial for proper Dog Walking Etiquette:

Always Walk on a Leash

I rarely agree with an exception to this rule, especially when walking in a neighborhood. While many people believe that their dogs are too loyal to be distracted by anything, I beg to differ. Cats, cars, other dogs, or even a scary noise can cause your dog to veer off your regular path. This inadvertent or natural reaction might put them or another pet directly in harms way.

Don’t believe me? Read my story about how 2 dogs almost died right in front of me because they were walking the neighborhood off leash.

Be Mindful of Other Dogs Walking

It is really difficult for dogs to socialize on a leash. The leash can add a layer of tension to an otherwise smooth encounter. Therefore, I always make an effort to read the body language of other dogs and make sure the walk past them will go smoothly. Even though most other dogs are friendly, any little misunderstanding could cause the dogs to disagree, and you never know if the other pet parent is savvy enough to navigate a tense encounter. Whether or not to walk past another dog is solely a judgment call on my part, but most times I can sense if a dog will be tense.

Cross the Street Where Necessary

As mentioned above, if you see a dog getting tense (i.e. barking, pulling on the leash, crouching or whining) about your dog walking down the street, it might be best to cross to the other side of the street.

This tactic is most useful in a neighborhood but might not work on a narrow sidewalk on a busy street. In that scenario, I would use a treat to distract Rooney.

Bring Treats to Distract Your Dog Where Necessary

If you have your dog on a leash, and you are mindful of other dogs, and you even cross the street, yet your dog is still getting amped up about the other dogs, bring treats to distract them.

In addition to providing you an opportunity to distract your dog, treats also can be a fun training tool so that you can provide your dog with some additional mental stimulation on your walk. I know Rooney never forgets when I have treats in my hand or pocket.

Dog Walking Etiquette

Carry An Extra Leash for Stray Dogs

I would love to say that I never see stray dogs while walking Rooney, but that would simply be untrue. Carrying an extra leash can help keep your dog and any stray dogs you might come across safe. Remember how we discussed that two dogs meeting on leash can be tense? Well, when one dog is on a leash, and the other isn’t, that can really add fuel to the fire.

For more information on what to do if you see a stray dog, I recommend reading: What Should You Do When You See a Stray Dog?

Always Bring Poop Bags

Picking up after your dog is not only your responsibility, but it is also helpful to the other pet parents in the neighborhood.

A few months ago, a neighbor was sitting outside of his house on a chair, and when he saw Rooney sniffing his lawn he said, “No!”. When I showed him that I had poop bags and was going to pick up after Rooney, he just said, “They don’t always pick up”, so Rooney and I moved on. While I am still unclear who “they” is referring to, and I don’t feel that Rooney and I should have been shunned, I do understand why this neighbor is frustrated. If only every 5th pet parent picks up after their dog, that’s a lot of picking up left for this neighbor.

Additionally, picking up after your dog is important for the health of the environment. Dog poop can contaminate the natural water resources in your area. For more information on why it’s important to pick up after your dog, I will refer you to my friend Sugar the Golden Retriever.

Stay Lit Up in the Dark

When you are out walking your dog, safety should always come first. For me, safety means two things:

  1. Not wearing headphones so that I can be aware of other people, dogs, and cars.
  2. Making sure that other people and cars can see us in the dark.

For Rooney, I have a light up leash and collar, and I wear reflective wristbands and bright colors. Here are a few of my favorite dog walking items:

How to Be Safe When Walking Your Dog at Night


5 Ways to Prepare You & Your Pets for the Fall Season

9 Dog Walking Essentials, you can read my guest post on Victoria Stilwell’s blog here.


If you are unfamiliar with Rover.com, you should definitely check them out. While I love taking Rooney for walks, I also know that some days my schedule is just too crazy, but Rooney still deserves his walks. If you are ever looking for a dog walker with proper dog walking etiquette, feel free to check out Rover’s Dog Walking Page.

So what do you consider proper dog walking etiquette?

Disclaimer: I was asked by Rover.com to share my opinion, but I was not compensated in any way for this blog post. My Kid Has Paws only shares information that I believe our readers will find interesting.

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3 Comment

  1. Reply
    Beverley @ BrilliantFamilyDog
    May 25, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Very wise words about the leash causing tension in a meeting! The less we can interfere, the better. Though discretion is definitely the better part of valour.

  2. Reply
    Charles
    May 29, 2016 at 4:05 am

    Bringing high quality dog treats with you when walking your dog is an absolutely necessity; especially if they’re not experienced at walking on a leash. The amount of times this has saved my dog from jumping on someone is so high.

  3. Reply
    Groovy Goldendoodles
    June 3, 2016 at 7:16 am

    Nice tips, hope those who don’t know – find their way to this post! LOL Leashes save lives – both canine and human!

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