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Owning a dog means having certain responsibilities that come with dog ownership. It also means following the sometimes unspoken rules of dog ownership etiquette and good manners. After all, common courtesy goes a long way in making your dog a welcome member of the neighborhood. For new dog owners, knowing community dog ownership protocols can be tricky at first. It’s all too easy to make gaffes that upset your neighbors or offend people at the park. But if you stick to some common-sense guidelines, your dog can be accepted and appreciated throughout your community.

Dog Manners in Your Home

You set the rules for your dog in your own home. But whatever they are, they shouldn’t disturb your neighbors or guests. Here are some considerations for dog manners in your home:

  • Prevent jumping on visitors. Some people don’t appreciate being jumped on, and it can be dangerous with older people and children as they can be knocked to the ground. Teach your dog to greet by sitting instead. Let your guests know that you’d like them to ignore your dog instead of petting them if they try to jump up.
  • Crate your dog or confine them to another room when you have guests who are uncomfortable around dogs. Some people would rather not interact with your dog and, in turn, some dogs are bothered by lots of visitors. In these situations, it’s less stressful for everybody if your dog is given something to do in their own space.
  • Prevent begging for food from visitors. Even for guests who want to socialize with your dog, it can be annoying when your dog begs for scraps. When you’re serving food, crate your dog or teach them to go to their place while you eat.
  • Discourage excessive barking at postal carriers, delivery people, or other visitors. These people don’t know your dog, so the barking may intimidate them. It can also noisy and disruptive to your neighbors if it’s more than a brief alert. Instead, try managing barking by keeping your curtains closed, and train a “quiet” cue.
  • Keep your dog secure in your yard. A fenced yard is the safest way to protect your dog and keep them from wandering. Make sure your dog can’t dig under the fence to get into your neighbor’s property or leave your yard.
  • Prevent excessive barking in the yard. Don’t leave your dog outside unattended for long periods. That’s a ticket to boredom barking. You can use that “quiet” cue you worked on for indoor barking here, too.
Central Asian Shepherd Dog on leash sitting next to its owner outdoors in the summer.
FotoimperiyA/Getty Images Plus

Dog Manners in Your Neighborhood

As soon as you leave the house with your dog, you’re sharing space with others who may or may not be dog lovers. Keep the following tips in mind while you’re out with your dog:

  • Pick up your dog’s poop. Always be prepared with several poop bags. If you run out or accidentally forget, come back as soon as possible to clean up. Your dog’s business is not your neighbor’s responsibility. Discourage your dog from peeing on your neighbors’ lawns or lifting their leg on their property (like car tires).
  • Keep your dog on a leash wherever leashes are required. It’s the law in many places, but it’s also good manners. Even if your dog has great recall and rarely leaves your side, leash laws still apply to you and your dog. Other people have no idea about your dog’s temperament, and they might be walking a dog with reactivity or anxiety issues, or they may be afraid of dogs themselves. Keep off-leash time for the dog park or other where it’s both safe and allowed.
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  • Keep your dog close when you pass other people or dogs on the sidewalk. You want to respect other people’s personal space. Plus, the leash can be a tripping hazard. If your dog is reactive or nervous around other dogs or people, cross the street to give everyone more space.
  • Ask permission before allowing your dog to greet people or greet other dogs. If somebody says no, respect their answer regardless of how friendly or excited your dog may be. If they say yes, be sure you’ve taught your dog how to greet politely. Overly enthusiastic greetings can be off-putting to both people and dogs.

Dog Manners in the Community at Large

It’s fun to take your dog with you to a pet store, outdoor sporting event, or friend’s house. But you want your dog to be a welcome guest rather than a nuisance. Here’s how:

  • Don’t take your dog to a friend’s house or family gathering without getting permission first. From allergies to fears, there are all kinds of reasons your dog might not be welcome, regardless of how well-behaved they are.
  • Bring an interactive toy like a food-stuffed chew toy to keep your dog entertained while you’re out. Bored dogs get into trouble creating their own fun, so keep your dog appropriately occupied.
  • Take your dog for a potty break before heading out. This will help prevent accidents and marking behavior.
  • Exercise your dog before your visit. A tired dog tends to be more relaxed and better behaved.

Training Your Dog to Be a Good Citizen in Your Community

Basset Hound sitting in the grass looking up at the viewer.
jadephotography89/Getty Images Plus

Following these simple rules of etiquette and manners is beneficial for you, your dog, and all dog owners. If your dog’s instincts do take over and somebody is upset, apologize. After all, you are the one who is ultimately responsible for your dog.

It’s always a good idea to work on your dog’s manners in the controlled environment of a training class. Enroll your puppy in an AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy class or get started with basic manners to work toward the Canine Good Citizen 10-part test. Both emphasize responsible dog ownership and basic obedience skills that will help your dog (and you!) become a welcome member of your community.

Related article: Is Your Dog Stressing You Out?
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