Leslie’s Top Ten Dos and Don’ts of Summer Doggie Etiquette

Good dog behavior is important all year round, but becomes critical in the warm weather when dogs are off their leashes and people, as usual, are off their rockers. When canines and humans are sharing lawn, beach, Frisbees and hiking trails, worlds collide. I will scream if I see one more Rottweiler allowed to roam around unfettered simply because it is a sunny day. And I like dogs. It’s their owners who make them look bad. So, owners, here are my rules of summer etiquette for your dogs and mine.

1. DO NOT let your dog pee on your neighbor’s hydrangeas. Your neighbor has spent a lot of time and effort to make her garden bloom and dog urine is not what she meant when she said the flowers needed watering today.

2. DO NOT let your dog poop on the lawn at the park. (Do I need to say that all dog poop must always get picked up, unless you live in the wilds of Alaska? As Americans you do enjoy the freedom to let dog poop fertilize your own backyard, but then, I don’t want to know you.) During the summer, park lawns are used for picnics, ball playing, and general lolling about. The last thing one wants to find on oneself after lolling about on the lawn is some unidentifiable, or worse some very identifiable and smelly substance.

3. DO NOT let your dog drool on another dog or on your friend’s new Pumas. It’s not nice and it’s disgusting. (Though one could argue that $100 tennis shoes deserve a little drool) And besides, drooling is often a symptom of thirst, so be sure your dog is getting enough water. Maybe he’s just one of those dogs who slobbers a lot. In either case it is your job to wipe the drool away before he has the chance to drown a Bichon.

4. DO let your dog enjoy a swim in a pool, but only if you’re there to watch for his safety, the pool is your own, you clean up his hairs and you do not allow him to participate in a chicken fight especially if he’s got you on his shoulders.

5. DO take your dog to the beach but DO NOT let her poop and then cover it with sand. DO NOT let her run over towels sending sand into faces. DO NOT let her swim and then shake herself off near sunbathers. DO take your dog a hundred yards down the beach and let her surf to her hearts content.

6. DO NOT let your dog swim in a pond you are not familiar with. It could carry bacteria or disease. Not to mention an alligator like the one that was found recently in Central Park’s Harlem Meer, a popular spot for dog bathing. So before you let your dog swim in an unknown pond, you swim there first to be sure it’s okay.

7. DO travel with your dog but do not assume that just because a hotel allows dogs, that everybody at the hotel is a dog person. In fact, assume nobody is a dog person, and you may be allowed back. Try to keep the barking to a minimum (your dog’s too), always keep your dog on a leash, walk her frequently and tip generously.

8. DO take your dog on hikes but keep your dog on a leash so he doesn’t get lost and doesn’t trip a fellow hiker. It’s a long plunge from the top of Yosemite Falls.

9. DO NOT take your dog to a pool party or a barbecue without asking the host first. Just because it’s summer and it seems mean to leave her home on such a beautiful day, DO NOT take your dog with you everywhere you go. You can’t leave her in the car (it gets way too hot), and you can’t leave her on the sidewalk tied to a pole (the yelping and crying disturbs the peace, not to mention your pookie could get stolen). DO leave your dog at home if you aren’t going somewhere appropriate for dogs. She won’t be lonely. She’ll be grateful. She won’t have to make small talk.

10. DO NOT shear your dog’s hair because you think he’s too hot. That’s called anthropormorphizing, which is a certain kind of doggie torture that includes but is not limited to making him wear a raincoat and booties. A dog’s hair keeps it cool on hot days and warm on cool ones. (If you don’t know this, please go quickly to your local bookstore and get yourself a dog care primer, along with my new book, The Dog Walker)

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