Walking dogs has been one of the best parts of my life the last few years. There are some ups and downs involved but once I really get to know a dog, walks can be so much fun! I’ve learned so much from doing this work, including a list of things that I’d love others to know when encountering new dogs or when you have a dog as well.

  1. Please ask if you can pet the dog before doing so. I say this because not every dog is going to be friendly around humans and it’ll be best for the owner to let you know if it’s okay. I also personally think it’s just polite to ask. And if the person says yes, I also recommend letting the dog smell and greet you before petting them.
  2. If you’re walking a dog and encounter another dog on the trail or road, ask if the dogs can meet. Some dogs aren’t great with other dogs and it’s always best to ask if the other dog is okay with yours saying hi.
  3. With that, also make sure to have your dog on leash if you’re not in a designated off leash trail or park and make sure that the dog listens to voice commands and/or whistles. This could prevent any unpleasant or dangerous situations if you encounter another dog that might not be great with other dogs.
  4. If you do get a puppy or new rescue that’s not good with other dogs, I’d recommend doing training or socialization classes to help with establishing good behavior. Puppies will need socialization classes to get to know other dogs and training classes can help you learn how to be a great dog owner.
    1. I’ve also learned over the years to really meet the dogs where they’re at and to use what you know about the dog to your advantage. There are many dogs that are highly food motivated and respond well to treats. Knowing that helped me train Milo how to shake!
  5. With that, it’ll take time to train a dog new behavior. Be patient and determined – training new behavior isn’t going to happen overnight or even in just a couple weeks. It’ll take time and dedication to really get training down and is something you’ll have to do every single day.
  6. If you have treats in your pocket while out and about or leftover scraps of food at the table, always ask if the dog can have any food. People not asking and just feeding a strange dog is a big pet peeve of mine. As someone who cares for a wide range of dogs and animals, I need to know what these dogs are eating while I’m caring for them. I’ve also taken care of a few dogs that are on special diets and can’t have regular treats. My own dog, Rooster, rarely has any leftover scraps because as I’ve learned the hard way numerous times, he has a sensitive stomach and food meant for people tends to upset it.
    1. You might have the best intentions and many dogs have perfected their cute, puppy eye look. But it’s always best to ask the owners because you never know if the dogs will tolerate the types of treats you have or the leftover scraps of food.
  7. If you are a dog owner, always have poop bags on you while on walks and scoop the poop! There are a few reasons to do so; one of the obvious reasons is that it’s never fun to step in dog poop. But dog poop that’s left alone can cause other problems as well. For example, poops that are left alone, especially along trails and in the wild, can transmit canine diseases to wildlife.
  8. Most importantly, respect other people and dogs. Sometimes, dogs aren’t going to be friendly or able to eat treats. It won’t be personal if you can’t say hi to a dog and the important thing is the safety of everyone involved.

Ultimately, I can’t tell folks how to care for their dogs but the things I mention above are just some things I wish we could all do around and for dogs. Each person is going to take care of their dogs differently and each dog is going to have their own set of habits or behaviors. I’m also not a professional trainer or animal behavior specialist so my own experiences come from just being around a wide range of dogs and knowing how a handful of dogs react to different situations. The best piece of advice that I can really give though is to just respect others and ask before acting.

Are there any things I’m missing on this list? Let me know in the comments or on social media! I’d love to hear from you all.

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