We have some great communities in Annapolis that are dog friendly.
I remember house hunting and had a whole list of communities I evaluated partially on their potential to allow me to walk and run with my dogs. But they also had to have some green, so I did not consider downtown Annapolis.
Looking back, I should have included downtown, as well as Eastport, as good places to walk. What was I thinking? At the time, I came up with a list that included places like West Annapolis, Epping Forest, Severn, Pines on the Severn, Bay Ridge and Hillsmere, to mention only a few.
Some had beaches that were dog-friendly at least part of the year, others had trails in parks and woods. What great places! I know there are many more.
But as I moved into my homes (I have moved around quite a bit), I also came to understand those community members who looked at me suspiciously as I walked by: Is her dog friendly? Is she in control? (I usually had more than one with me). Is her dog going to mess up my lawn? Is she going to pick up?
I always have my bags hanging from the leash to try and appease suspicion because I get it. I am the same when people walk by my house, too! And this from someone who absolutely loves dogs!
My fear is that communities will become less friendly to dog owners if we as dog owners don’t demonstrate that we care, too. Here are some things we should all do when walking by people’s property:
- Try to have your dog do her business before leaving your own property.
- Otherwise, pick up after your dog! No excuses. And don’t put your bag in someone else’s trash.
- When you pass people, keep your dog close to you. Just because your dog is friendly, doesn’t mean others know that or feel comfortable being sniffed or licked.
- When passing other dogs, keep your dog close to you. Just because your dog is friendly, doesn’t mean the other one is.
- When talking to a neighbor, put your dog in a sit-stay by your side. This shows control, makes the conversation much more pleasant and encourages others to be more open to dog ownership in their community.
- Don’t walk with your dog off leash. Just because you think you are in control, neighbors will not feel that way, cars can suddenly come out of driveways and the temptation to wander on someone else’s property is just too strong for most dogs, especially in the spring with the new bunnies…. Trust me, I know.
- Openly work on obedience while walking. Your neighbors might think you are strange at first, but in the end, they will appreciate the trouble you take. Work on heel, sit, stay, come, about turns… you know, the basics.
- Don’t let children (or adults for that matter) run up to your dog and touch them out of nowhere. Tell them to please wait until your dog is sitting, then show them how to approach your dog: from the side, letting the dog sniff first, then pet under the chin or on the side of the dog. Petting on the head is not the best way to meet a new dog.
- Don’t keep your dog outside unattended. It bothers the neighbors and is simply sad for the dogs. Remember, they are pack animals and do not want to be left out of the pack! Not to mention the health risks you take with bugs and weather.
- Socialize your dog with people and dogs from an early age. The more you do this, the happier you will be.
All of these tips will lead to happier neighbors and fewer dogs ending up at the SPCA.
I am currently working to set up community dog training workshops on weekends. I wonder if this is something communities would be interested in?
Any feedback is welcome. Also, what other points have I missed? As a possibly biased dog owner myself, I can imagine there are many more things that frustrate people and dog owners alike.
I welcome your comments!