I was walking home from a Recall & Leash Manners class the other day when I saw a sign posted in a flower bed. I was intrigued/amused enough to snap a picture. If you can’t make it out, the sign says in a combination of words and pictures, “Dear dog, please pee on a tree not on me.” “Me” in this case is an ornamental shrub with a section of brown leaves – an obvious sign that this is some dog’s favorite spot to mark.
Having just spent an hour on “leash manners” the sign made me think. Most of the time when I talk about manners in class, I’m talking about the dog’s manners. Walking nicely on a loose leash. Not barking and lunging and other dogs. Not pulling to get to squirrels. Not jumping on kids or other people we encounter.
Many of them involve what we let our dogs do on walks. Or, to be more straightforward, where we let our dogs pee and poo.
All too often, I think, we let our dogs wander around at the end of their leash, stopping for bio breaks wherever they like. We may even like that – because we want our dogs to drain their bladders so we don’t have to take them out again in two hours. And after all, what’s the problem with letting our dogs pee on the neighbor’s yard? A little pee won’t damage the grass. And if it’s more than pee, most of us probably are good about picking up after our dogs. But is that enough to be a really good neighbor?
I think dog owners can and should do more. What I like to do with my dog is take him out in my own yard first, let him “do his thing” and then start our walk. The other thing I will do is stop once or twice for a potty break. I stop near some public space, ask for a sit, and then tell him to go pee.
In addition to the potty breaks, I also take sniff breaks on my walks. Again, in a public space, I’ll stop, ask for a sit and then let my dog go explore at the end of the leash for a bit. I do this rather than letting him stop off to check out (and wander into) the neighbor’s flower beds.
It really just boils down to common sense and common courtesy.