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It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood -- until it’s not. Arguments over noisy dogs, odors, and lawns being trespassed can turn the best of neighbors into adversaries. While you and your neighbors don’t need to be BFFs, your ability to co-exist peacefully can go a long way in making life easier. Following these seven tips of dog etiquette will keep you in the conscientious neighbor vs. that-neighbor-with-the dog zone.
1. When you first move in or when you bring a new dog home, make sure to introduce him to your neighbors. Pick a time when your dog is fully fed and already walked. Use this time to tell your neighbors anything they should know about your dog. If he’s terrified of children and a neighbor has five of them, that would be good info to share. Assure your neighbors that you’ll always do your best to keep your dog off their lawn and that if he should have an accident, you’ll clean it up. Also encourage neighbors to come to you if they ever have any issues with your dog. During these friendly exchanges, you’ll be able to distinguish the dog lovers from the not-dog lovers.
2. Always control your dog when outside. Never allow your dog to run loose in the neighborhood. Whenever your dog is not behind a fence, he should be on a leash. It is your responsibility to make sure that your dog does not jump on people or lunge at other dogs. Only let your dog greet a stranger if they ask to meet her. If you meet another leashed dog while walking, and the owner says it’s okay, you can let the dogs sniff each other for a few seconds. Letting your dog play with another dog while leashed can teach your dog that all pooches enjoy this kind of interaction, and not all do!
3. While on neighborhood walks, pick up and properly dispose of your dog’s waste. Unless your neighbor has given you free rein in her front yard, you should not let your dog use it as his bathroom. Your dog’s urine can cause grass damage, and once a dog goes on a yard (or mailbox, garden gnome, etc.), other dogs smell it and start using that same spot too. If you have a yard of your own, encourage him to relieve himself there before heading out on a walk. While walking, train your dog to use the strip between the street and the sidewalk. Carry a bottle of water with you (along with extra bags), so when accidents happen, you can flood the area with water.
4. The thing that tends to bother neighbors more than anything is incessant barking by dogs left alone outside. Whenever your dog starts barking, quiet him down quickly, or get him indoors.
5. Make sure your backyard doesn’t smell. If your dog regularly relieves himself in your yard, be sure to tend to it every day so the odors don’t waft over into your neighbor’s space.
6. Make training a priority. According to the ASPCA, a well-trained dog needs to respond to a minimum of five basic commands: sit, stay, heel, leave it, and come.
7. If a neighbor complains about your dog, hear him out!
Lastly, many problems can be avoided by giving your dog the exercise she needs. As the American Kennel Club says, “Young, energetic dogs crave exercise.” In addition to daily walks, check out dog parks in your area where your dog can enjoy free range and socialization time. Just make sure you’re up-to-date on her vaccinations, that she’s wearing a current ID tag, and that you’ve got extra bags so you can clean up after her. Once there, watch her carefully and be on the lookout for any signs of agitation. Dog parks aren’t for all dogs. If your pooch is the kind to cower in a corner or become a bully, the best dog park is probably in your own backyard!
Enjoy these days with your four-legged friend. There’s no reason you won’t be “Neighbor of the Year” when you follow the seven tips above. Best of all, you’ll have a happy and secure dog that your dog-loving (and maybe even some not-dog-loving) neighbors will adore!
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