Brushing up on the etiquette of dog-walking

Published 8:30 am Saturday, October 1, 2022

By Bonnie Brown

As you all probably know, we have a dog named Carly.  She is a Cavachon which is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Bichon Frise mix.  She is a cutie and looks like a stuffed animal which has come to life.  She is smart and rules our household efficiently.  Evidently, she quickly recognized that Tom and I were easy to train so we have a happy, efficient home.  

Recently, Tom has suffered from back pain which means that I am temporarily the substitute dog walker.  As you know, the dog walker is in charge of getting the said dog to do — you know — his or her “business.”  He and Carly have a good system worked out and enjoy strolling the neighborhood multiple times a day.  

As the substitute dog walker, my system and style are somewhat different from Tom’s.  For instance, Tom simply puts on a baseball cap and is ready to greet the world.  I, on the other hand, don’t wish to scare the nice neighbors and feel obliged for a bit more glamming up so my timing is different from Tom’s.  Carly is a little anxious and more than a little eager as she waits for the magic moment that I’m ready to walk out the door with her.  Some days require more magic than others.  

Although it is rarely discussed, the dog walking/poop collecting requires that you observe certain rules.  They are as follows:  Always greet your fellow dog walkers.  You will quickly learn whether your pet can greet the other pet—with certain reservations.  The meet and sniff should be brief and carefully monitored.  You don’t want the dogs to become irritable with one another or to annoy your fellow dog walker who may or may not have had his or her morning coffee.  Observe the personal space rule so you don’t become entangled with the other pet and its owner.  This can be very awkward due to morning breath and lack of sufficient caffeine.  If barking is involved, move along quickly.  Don’t look back and don’t assign blame.  

Never offer to shake hands with your fellow dog walkers.  Need I say more?  Keep your greeting brief and remember the mission.  And speaking of the mission.  If one of the dogs is in the process of eliminating, don’t interfere or interrupt.  Remember the personal space rule.  Retrieving your dog’s poop is mandatory!  No one wants to step in it or find it on their lawn.  There are mechanical scoopers for this, or you can use the corduroy toilet paper (as Tom calls it) and a collection bag which is my method.  You don’t want to be THAT person who doesn’t clean up after your pet.  People will talk!  And I will lead the conversation.  It’s just bad manners.  Be a responsible pet parent.  Don’t brag on your pet because as sure as you do, your beloved dog will eat a worm or worse.  The weather is an appropriate topic for conversation among dog walkers.  Try to be friendly and interesting too.  Remember that the next day will be a “rinse and repeat” experience.  Make it friendly and respectful. 

Just yesterday while Carly and I were walking, I encouraged her to establish herself as the confident, smart girl she is.  You know, be the Alpha Dog!  I told her that she didn’t have to sniff the same spots that all the other dogs had already marked.  She could chart her own course.  She wagged her tail indicating she agreed.  We’ll see.  

I must acknowledge Carly and Tom as contributors for this column, and for their vast knowledge and expertise on this topic.  They are the best!  Enjoy your morning walk and the cooler fall temps!

Bonnie Brown writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle. Contact her at bbrown@olemiss.edu.