Responsible Dog Ownership

By Linda Stein

Does your dog have a social life? There’s lots of choices for Mr. Rover or Ms. Spot these days: Running or walking alongside you on the Orange County Heritage Trail, participating in a fund raising event like the “Paws for a Cause” at Bear Mountain or the number of canine costume events held on different holidays. In fact, there is even a program at for dogs and their owners who would like to cheer patients on Thursdays at Horton Hospital in Middletown. To enjoy these outings your dog needs doggy manners such as no jumping on greeters, pulling on a leash, or barking at strangers. These are patterns of courtesy that dogs can learn as early as 12 weeks and as late as 8 years. They get a day of stimulation and new experience. You’ll get to brag and feel proud as you both enjoy new people, new surrounding and the satisfaction of sharing the experience of unconditional love your dog brings to each occasion.

But even if you just are the sort who love to enjoy a spring or summer day on your own front stoop there are still manners to consider. Dog owners need to be more aware than ever of their dog’s behavior. It affects and people passing by on bicycles, scooters, skateboards and roller blades”. Even if your dog dashes out in the name of friendliness, he or she can scare someone to the point of injury. It happens all the time because dogs dash out of doors, past gates, out of cars…all unexpected by the owner. In fact, we are sorry to report that even a president’s dog was killed recently in exactly that kind of incident. Training to prevent this is not time consuming but can avoid a very dismal outcome. Dogs can learn easily not to leave a door without permission.

More dog owners should also realize they owe consideration to neighbors who are outdoors also trying to enjoy their own yard. They are often not pleased about “unexpected visitors’ who might deposit “unexpected messes” especially if a child becomes suddenly overwhelmed. Even small dogs can be threatening to people who do or don’t know them. There are laws so that people are protected but they also serve to ensure good peaceful relations with other community members. As hard as it is to believe not everyone loves dogs. People don’t want to report your dog to the authorities but trying to sleep with a dog continually barking is something that can aggravate anyone. Dog owners think they are giving their dogs a great day outside in the yard but constant barking is also a sign of yearning and loneliness that you can do something about.

So, as the weather gets nicer remember doggy etiquette increases the chances that dogs will be welcome in public for years to come.