Dog Etiquette Is No Different Than Human Etiquette

Before we begin . . . a few Bad Dog Pet Peeves from Readers:

In my newsletter I asked people to submit their pet peeves about how dogs behave in public. Here are some of their responses, followed by my own comments. Overall, I believe that when it comes to good behavior, humans and dogs are not that different. You’ll see why in my answers below.

Pamela of San Francisco asks: When did it become acceptable for owners to allow pets to urinate on other people’s lawns and gardens? I asked one owner how she might feel if I poured a cup of urine on her front lawn, and she accused me of being confrontational.

Answer: It is never acceptable! Humans are taught it is not appropriate to defecate on public sidewalks or to urinate on the sides of buildings. Dogs are no exceptions. It isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to pick up after dogs except owners. They should use Pooper Scoopers and steer their dogs to appropriate places to relieve themselves.

Dogs, like children, will only behave as well as their parents and owners teach them. Good parenting begins when the dog is a puppy and the human adult is a child. Unless the parent reinforces good behavior at home, the puppy or child will not know how to act in public. Well-mannered dogs and humans are welcome and valued members of our society.

Karen of Daly City asks: I was walking my dog Shadow, on leash, at an outdoor music concert. Shadow must have smelled old dog urine directly next to where people were sitting. So he did the doggie thing and marked it, lifting his leg and urinating a tiny bit onto a woman’s knapsack hanging on her back. I was horrified and apologized. The woman was very gracious. What can possibly be done to make amends when a dog inadvertently marks the personal items of another person?

Answer: Humans are not allowed to destroy other people’s lawns, gardens, and personal property. This holds true for dogs as well. You could have offered to have the item cleaned, or given the owner a fair amount of money to have the item cleaned or repaired. Urine, especially female urine, can cause terrible dead spots in lawns and gardens and will discolor streets and buildings. Just imagine what it did to her knapsack!

D. Morgan asks: People run their dogs off-leash in our local high school yard, even while school is in session, when children use the field, or when athletic groups play games there. It is not within the school district’s means to enforce their “no dogs” rule. People remove the “No Dogs Allowed” signs shortly after they are erected, or the signs that remain are ignored. Rarely does a dog owner retrieve his dog and leave when asked. Don’t rules and kids come before dogs?

Answer: There will always be pet owners who are unlawful, inconsiderate and think they can get away with bad behavior in the name of their pet. Unfortunately, whoever posted the sign must enforce the rules and laws set forth, and an average citizen such as you can’t have much effect.

Also, what would be a polite and effective way to ask dog owners to keep their dogs away from frightened children, regardless of unfounded fears or how well voice-controlled and mildly tempered the dogs are? I can leave with my own kids if a particular dog bothers them, but when I lead a group activity outdoors, it is impossible to leave and cede the territory.

Answer: Try this. When leading group activities, have more than one facilitator. One of you becomes the safety monitor. Have this person approach all pet owners in the area at the onset of the activity to ask for their kind cooperation in keeping dogs on leash and away from the kids’ area, because some children are afraid of dogs. Perhaps post or hold a big sign on a stick that reads, “Kids at play… please keep dogs on leash and away from this area. Thank you.” Always thank people for their cooperation. It’s the right thing to do, no matter what their responses are or attitude is toward you.


When the weather is good both humans and pets–especially dogs-enjoy being outdoors.
Adults, children, and dogs may do as they please in the privacy of their own homes, yards, and gardens. But when in public, all are expected to behave in a civil and courteous manner. Here’s my own list of pet peeves:

Owners who bring dogs as uninvited guests: Humans are taught never to bring an uninvited guest to a party, or to ask if an extra guest is welcome. Unless a dog is officially invited, owners should leave them at home and not even ask if they can bring the dog.

Dogs off leash: By law, dogs are to be on a leash when out in public. The only leniency might be when a dog is totally obedient to its owner. This is no different than parents of children. Children are often leashed when very young, until they learn to mind their parents in public and not run off in all directions.

Dogs who drool and slobber: Humans keep a towel nearby when a baby or person drools. They try not to let their baby slobber on them. Likewise, a dog’s parents should keep a towel handy whenever their dog drools or slobbers, especially at someone else’s home.

Dogs who bark too much or are overly playful: Children and adults who become too loud and rowdy in public places are typically invited to leave the area. Dog parenting requires similar disciplining. Dogs who bark too much and become too playful need owners who call a time out, just as good parents remove children from the play area to calm them down. Both owners and parents repeat the lesson until dogs and children learn how to behave appropriately.

Owners who don’t keep dogs safe: Good parents would never let their children swim in a pool or pond that wasn’t clean, or wander off into the woods or unknown territory. They would also never keep an infant or dog in the car with a window slightly open while they run into a store for a quick purchase. Humans and dogs should also always wear seatbelts while in a moving vehicle.

Inconsiderate travelers: Good parents and dog owners practice voice commands and instructions prior to leaving home. They don’t let their children or dogs leave their sides, and they curb all yelling and barking. While more hotels are pet friendly today, some adults and children are terribly afraid of animals. Good parents and owners don’t let their children and dogs get too close to other people, unless invited, and expect them to be well mannered when they do so.

Wouldn’t it be nice if owners treated their dogs with the same sense of responsibility and discipline as they would their own children? Perhaps they don’t understand that well-behaved dogs become the center of attention, just as people compliment well-behaved children and adults.

FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER. Pass this article to anyone you know who has a bet. In fact, make a copy of this article and keep it in your wallet or purse to hand someone who is not being a responsible parent/pet owner. Invite them to contact me with continued dialogue on this topic. I’d enjoy hearing from them.

QUESTION: What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you by in the reply section below.  or you may also reach us at   If you enjoyed this article and want more, subscribe to our “Etiquette Tip of the Month” newsletter—at no charge—filled with great monthly tips on all sorts of topics from international business and social etiquette and protocol to everyday life subjects. It will be great to have you as a member of our happy family of subscribers at

Happy Practicing!

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4 Responses to "Dog Etiquette Is No Different Than Human Etiquette"

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