From Rachel Jones. Email her at rjones[AT]borderstan.com. A professional dog trainer, she is the owner of K-9 Divine.
As a trainer, I get called in to help in many situations that are less about dog behavior than about good public relations between dog owners and their neighbors. Washingtonians live in a small, crowded city that is not very dog-friendly. As dog owners, we need to do our part to change the perception of dogs and owners that is held by many residents and members of the city government.
- Apartment dwellers can save themselves a lot of trouble by pre-empting complaints about barking and dog noise from their neighbors. For example, before you bring your new dog home, send around a note or go around personally to the neighbors and let them know that you are getting a new dog and you want to make sure the dog isn’t making too much noise. People are likely to be forgiving if your new dog is noisy for a few weeks if you warned them in advance. Spend an hour with a trainer to work on nice, quiet behavior in the apartment and the elevator and your neighbors will be very grateful.
- Pick up your dog’s poop! We might be allowed to use schoolyards and parks to exercise our dogs if everyone cleaned up after their own dog. If you see a pile of poop that doesn’t belong to your dog and you have an extra bag, pick that up too!
- When you are out walking your dog, don’t allow him to approach strangers. Not everyone wants your dog to sniff them. Even if your dog has no training, you should be able to use the leash to keep her away from people. Parents of small children, people who fear dogs and people who are eating at outdoor restaurants will appreciate your efforts to keep your dog a good distance away from them.