By Dr. Becker
As more and more public places become dog-friendly in recognition that for many of us, dogs are members of the family, the onus is on us to be thoughtful and responsible guardians
During the warmer months of the year, people like to get out and about with their dogs, whether it's a walk around the neighborhood, a short hike, or a summer vacation
The best way to set yourself and your dog up for a fun, memorable season is to do a bit of pre-planning, and follow some simple canine etiquette guidelines that will make you a hit with other dog lovers and a welcome guest when you go on the road with your canine travel companion
9 Tips for a Successful Summer with Your Dog
1. Make sure your dog is summer-ready
It's just a fact that if your dog is clean, well-groomed, obedient, and healthy, she'll be welcomed much more readily no matter where your travels take you – around the block or across the country. So make sure to set your furry companion up for success all summer long by keeping her bathed, brushed, well-nourished, and well-socialized.
2. Walk this way
When you're out strolling with your dog this summer, especially if you visit heavily populated areas, use a four- or six-foot flat leash instead of a retractable leash, and attach it to a harness, not a collar. This will allow you to safely control your gregarious pup in the event he sees or smells something irresistible and goes for it.
If you and your dog love a retractable leash, save it for times when you'll be walking or hiking in areas where it's appropriate and safe for your pet to explore.
3. Do your part to keep the environment clean
Always be prepared with poop bags when you're out in public with your dog, and pick up any deposits she leaves immediately. Tie up the bag and dispose of it in an appropriate waste receptacle. It's also a good idea to bring along a few antiseptic wipes for your hands.
Pro tip: Bring along a few more poop bags than you'll use. You never know when you might run into another dog lover in desperate need!
4. Be a good neighbor
In a residential neighborhood, curbing your dog means not only walking him on a leash and picking up after him, but also keeping him off of your neighbors' manicured lawns.
Many suburbanites spend lots of time and money beautifying their outdoor space and don't appreciate it when Buddy dashes through their flowerbed, poops on the grass, or lifts his leg on newly planted shrubbery.
5. Be socially conscious
One of the really fun things about getting out and about with your pet during the warm summer months is meeting other dog lovers and their four-legged companions.
It's important during meet-and-greets to be socially aware. Ask the person if his or her dog is friendly before allowing your dog to approach, and before attempting to approach the new dog yourself.
6. Practice good dog park etiquette
Dogs best suited for off-leash dog parks are healthy, friendly, non-aggressive, and confident around other pets and people. If this doesn't describe your own canine companion, consider finding alternative activities in which she can socialize and mingle with other dogs.
If you do visit dog parks, remember never to reprimand another person's dog (unless your dog is being threatened), never offer food or treats to someone else's dog, and don't bring toys from home unless you and your dog are prepared to share them, lose them, or see them destroyed.
7. Dinner for two?
Many restaurants these days have dog-friendly outdoor areas that are perfect for warm weather dining. Pets who are most welcome in these establishments are well-mannered and calm. Barkers, beggars, and overly excited dogs who can't hold a sit-and-stay reliably are not good candidates for outdoor eateries.
Be sure to bring a small water bowl for your dog and some tasty treats for him to snack on while you dine.
8. Be a good houseguest
If you hope to bring your dog along on your summer vacation, obviously you'll want to make sure ahead of time that she's welcome at your destination – presumably the home of a family member or friend.
To be a welcome houseguest, your dog should be fully housetrained, well-mannered, and non-destructive. She should be reliably responsive to verbal commands like come, sit, stay, and drop it, and walk well on a leash.
Be sure to bring all pet supplies, including food, you'll need during the trip, including a way to pick up dog hair if your pet is a shedder.
9. Be a good hotel guest
When staying at a pet-friendly hotel with your dog, try to leave your room in the same condition you found it, and make things as easy as possible on the housekeeping staff. For example, feed and water your dog on the bathroom floor for easy clean-up.
Cover furniture with towels or a blanket from home if your dog is accustomed to being in a chair or on the couch. Don't allow him on the bedspread or comforter, and if he sleeps with you, bring a sheet or blanket from home to keep hotel linens free of puddles of drool and piles of fur.