The four unwritten rules of walking your dog, according to an expert trainer

Happy family out walking their dog
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are you doing your best to be a safe and respectful dog owner? While you certainly won't ever need to convince us that owning a dog is the best thing ever, not everybody is quite so fond of our four-legged friends. 

That's why brushing up on your dog walking etiquette is so important. 

Even if you happen to meet lots of other dog lovers and fellow pet parents while you're out and about, there are still rules that need to be followed to ensure that everybody can enjoy the great outdoors. 

With that in mind, expert trainer and behaviorist Nikki Mather has issued a timely reminder of this in a post shared to Instagram in which she reveals the four golden rules of good dog walking etiquette.

Keep reading to find out what they are!

1. Manage your dog: "If you see an approaching dog on the leash, it is your responsibility to call your dog to heel or put them back on their leash," explains Mather. "An on-leash dog may be scared, reactive, in training, or recovering from an injury. Never allow your dog to approach a dog on the leash without the owner's permission. 'It's okay, they're friendly' is never okay." For more on this, take a look at these six reasons why 'it's okay, my dog's friendly' is the most irresponsible dog owner phrase ever

2. Be respectful: "Not everybody is dog friendly — yeah, we can't believe it either! Most people will not enjoy your dog running over to them and jumping up. Don't allow your dog to interact with people without first being invited. If your dog has a tendency to bolt and you don't have 100% reliable recall, please keep them on a leash," says Mather. Check out our guide to the reasons why your dog's recall isn't reliable (and what you can do about it) if your pup struggles to come when called.

3. Scoop the poop: We know, it's one of the worst parts of being a dog owner, but it's also just good manners to clean up after your pup. "This should go without saying," says Mather, "ALWAYS pick up your dog's poop! Picking up after your dog is a non-negotiable rule. Dog feces can spread disease and parasites to people and other dogs. Failing to pick up after your dog is dangerous and gives dog owners a bad name."

4. Pay attention: "You are responsible for your dog's actions and your priority should be keeping your dog and others safe. Being on your phone whilst walking your dog divides your attention and compromises your ability to act fast if something goes wrong," Mather explains. "Walking your dog is a chance to bond and de-stress, so stay off your phone and enjoy it."

So there you have it, the four golden rules of good dog walking etiquette to keep yourself, your dog, and all other pups and humans happy and safe in the great outdoors. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.