Picket fence in front of house with beware of dog sign

5 easy steps to be a great canine neighbor

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?…
Won’t you be my neighbor?

I think we all know the tune to the above lyrics sang by the beloved Mr. Rogers.   If you think about the word neighbor,  what comes to mind?   You might just be thinking about the noun or simply someone that lives in the house nearest to yours.  Or you might be thinking about the verb, a person who shows kindliness or helpfulness toward his or her fellow humans.  Whatever definition comes to mind, Chase and I have had some “ruff” times in our neighborhood.

A ruff day

I’ll set the scene:  it was a beautiful day, temperatures were perfect for a walk, sunshine, and no wind.  I was enjoying a day working from home and during my normal lunch break, I took Chase to the bike path that is behind our house for a nice walk.  There we can get some much needed fresh air, stretch our legs, and I can get energized to get through the rest of my workday.  This day we headed out on the southbound section of the trail because it gets the greatest amount of sunshine.  This section of the bike path is bordered by the homes in my neighborhood on the west side of the trail.

We made our way slowly down the path.  I always allow Chase lots of sniffing time as we make our way down the trail.  Just as we neared our turn around point I heard a lot of barking coming from one of the bordering homes.  I took a mental note and we kept walking.  What happened next is why I’m writing this post.

Any time is every time!

As a dog owner, as a woman who hikes alone sometimes, and just at a cautious person,  I try and stay aware of my surroundings.  Let’s be honest, anytime can turn into every time.   It is important to always be as prepared as possible to keep yourself safe even when it is practically just outside your backyard.  The house full of barking dogs was just the beginning.  I also caught sight of a large light colored dog rocketing out of its yard on its way down to the trail we were on.  Luck was on our side because the loose, angry dog was slowed down by the thick vegetation it had to travel through on its way down to the trail.  That allowed us enough time to move away from the situation to a safer distance.  Most dogs, in my experience, are barking and charging because they want you to move “away” from their territory.  It is less about being dog aggressive and more about their home territory.  And I was right again thank gosh.  He pursued us down the trail at a distance.  As we moved away I stopped and gave him a  few big loud “heys” until he turned back.

What kind of neighbor are you?

The situation was upsetting even though the outcome of that day was just a disrupted walk.  This was not the first time, nor the worse loose dog experience I’ve had in the neighborhood.  If I’m counting, it has now been a half a dozen times.  As a dog guardian, you are an ambassador for all other dog guardians in your neighborhoods, in public places, and on the trails.  Everything we do, or not do, is reflective of the entire dog nation.

Rules and regulations are created to keep everyone safe and happy in these shared places.  It is not uncommon for dogs to be banned from previous allowed places and trails due to poor management by their humans.  Here are just a few recent examples from Colorado (historically a very dog-friendly state)  and Arizona: Dogs banned from Camelback mountain trail and Dogs banned from Mueller State Park.

Don’t we want more places that we can enjoy with our dogs, instead of less?   Next time you head out to enjoy a walk with your “best friend”  please remember the following 5 easy steps to be a great canine neighbor:

  1. Manage your dogs barking so that they don’t become a nuance.
  2. Know and follow all leashing rules and regulations at all times
  3. Do not allow your dog to approach another person or dog unless given verbal permission
  4. When passing on a trail, be courteous and shorten the leash to 6 feet.
  5. Keep your yard and neighborhood free of dog poop.  Carry ample poop clean up bags on your walks….leave no trace!

If you want some training ideas and would like to earn some Certifications check these two great programs: the AKC Good Canine Citizen or Community Canine