City-dwelling dog owners are faced with greater challenges than their suburban counterparts. Crowded sidewalks filled with joggers, construction sites and strollers turn each outing into an obstacle course. The following tips will make walks safer and more enjoyable for you, your dog and your neighbors.
- Most cities and have some form of leash, license and pick-up-after-your-dog laws. These ordinances are designed to protect both the dog and the community at large. When leashed, a dog is safe from traffic and unable to follow his instincts to chase children, investigate garbage cans or dig up landscaping. Whether a dog is friendly or aggressive, a leash keeps him in check and allows the public to pass undisturbed. Keep leashes to six feet or less on public sidewalks. Retractable leashes should not be used in areas frequented by joggers, skaters or cyclists; the thin line blends into the background and all too often athlete and dog collide.
- Pooper-scooper laws are essential for both the health and safety of the community. Canine diseases and parasites are often shed in feces, which puts other dogs and children at risk. And no one enjoys maneuvering through unsightly piles of dog waste when out for a stroll.
- Keep in mind that not everyone loves dogs, so it's up to you to present a dog who is well-socialized and under control. When riding in an elevator, sit your dog in a far corner to avoid door-dashing each time the elevator makes a stop. Do not allow Fido to jump up on other riders, even when the greeting is friendly. Hurry through lobbies or take freight elevators and back exits if the building rules mandate it.
- Many dogs enjoy the company of other canines, but always ask before allowing your animal to launch himself at another dog—for both their sakes. The same is true regarding children. First ask the child or her parent, "May my dog say hello to you?" before allowing physical contact. The greeting should not include jumping, bouncing off or grabbing at the child—even if it is done in the spirit of friendliness. If your dog is physically challenging, consider using a harness for better control.
- The Houston Humane Society's 32nd Annual K-9 Fun Run & Walk is scheduled for March 24, and it's the perfect event for city and suburban dwelling dogs alike. Held in Downtown Houston at Hermann Square, this fun event includes a 1 mile run or walk and canines are welcome! As a bonus, register in February to save $5. Visit houstonhumane.org for more info.