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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 12:52 pm | Fair 63º


Inquisitive Canine: Boning Up on Doggy Outing Etiquette

Follow these guidelines to ensure a good time for everyone while in public with your pooch

Dear Inquisitive Readers:

Summer is in full swing, and that means fun in the sun for the whole family — pooches included — whether it’s evening strolls around the neighborhood, picnics or a game of fetch in the park, or lounging at the beach. Poncho and I thought this would be a good opportunity to send out some gentle reminders on responsible pet guardianship, so everyone can continue to have a good time.

There are many wonderful parks and beaches in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Summerland, Carpinteria and the surrounding areas, and it’s up to us to act responsibly so we can continue to enjoy these dog-friendly places.

As a professional dog trainer, I get a lot of questions about proper etiquette for dogs in public. I’ve put together some general guidelines for promoting a safe and happy time with your dog when out at a beach or park.

Abide By Local Leash Laws

» As much as I’d love for dogs to be able to go wherever they want, whenever they want, free of the “ties that bind,” it’s important to play by the rules and use leashes if they are required. Dogs, like humans, can behave unpredictably, and it’s not fair to other dogs and their guardians if some are off leash when others are not.

» Some people might find it stressful to see an unleashed dog if their own dog is leashed and vice versa. Your dog might be the most perfect dog out there, but that isn’t necessarily the case for every other dog.

» If you’re at an off-leash place, keep your dog off-leash, if possible. Leashes can inhibit communication between dogs, cause frustration, incite fear responses and even fights. If you’re in a legal off-leash area and you aren’t able to take your dog off leash, it’s best to choose a different place to go.

Health and Preparedness Checklist

» Water (or access to fresh drinking water), food or treats specific for your dog, and waste bags.

» Dog license and ID tags displayed on the collar.

» Make sure your dog is up to date on all legally required vaccinations.

» Bring your dog to public places only if he or she is healthy. If your dog is sick or injured, ask your vet about the best form of exercise.

» Spay or neuter your dog. Unaltered dogs tend to wander more, listen less and are targeted more often by other dogs. Plus, they don’t have much common sense when it comes to reproducing. The last thing you want is to come home with a pregnant dog, or be the owner of the expectant father.

» If your dog enjoys the water, are you aware of his or her swimming abilities? If your dog is in the water, are you able to go, too, if necessary?

» Be aware of poisonous plants, thorns, stickers and the ever-popular foxtails. A trip to the emergency room is never a fun way to spend a summer day.

» Does your dog get overheated easily? Does he or she sunburn easily? A cooling vest and sunscreen might be appropriate to have on hand. Ask your vet for information on dog-specific sunscreens. Also, if you plan to have your dog’s hair/fur trimmed for summer, check with a professional groomer about which cut would be appropriate for your dog. Some breeds require the long fur to protect skin and insulate their body. Like wool, a dog’s coat also can help keep him or her cool. Again, check with your vet or groomer to make sure.

Behavior Checklist

» Monitor your dog and his or her behavior. Getting caught up socializing with friends can result in your dog wandering off, finding others to play with or getting into an altercation.

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Monitoring the behavior of our four-legged friends while out in public will have everyone smiling.

» Learn to recognize dog play vs. bully behavior. Is your dog being asked to play? Is your dog being targeted by a bully? Is your dog wanting to play? Or being a bully? For more information on dog body language and communication, check my dog training site for tips on dog play behavior.

» Be careful when strangers want to say hello to your dog, or your dog wants to say hello to others — especially children. Not all dogs have learned to play politely with the younger generation. Some dogs can be fearful and growl or snap when approached by an exuberant child or unfamiliar adult. On the flip side, there are dogs that are more excited than the children and want to jump and play, sometimes knocking them over.

» Make sure you and your dog are up to speed with good manners behaviors, including coming when called, “leave it,” loose-leash walking, greeting politely and dropping things when asked.

We’re sure you will agree that the more responsible dog guardians are, the more places our beloved four-legged friends will be allowed to go, and the more likely those dog-friendly places will remain as such. Here’s to a great summer.

— Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified pet dog trainer and dog behavior counselor. Her column is known for its simple common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog. Joan is also the founder of The Inquisitive Canine, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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