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Greenway Etiquette For You and Your Dog

The “friendly” Golden Retriever was barking and growling from across the street while I was walking a client’s dog. The other dog was lunging at the end of its flexi leash (that’s a topic for another blog) and coming closer. In response, the client’s started barking and lunging toward the other dog. The man, struggling to hold onto his dog as they walked by, shouted, “My dog is friendly.”

I shouted back, “Mine is not” as I managed to get the client’s dog under control and kept walking.

The owner finally got his dog back beside him and they went merrily on their way, oblivious to the havoc they had just caused.

There is a wide variety of sociability in dogs. Some are social butterflies and want to meet every dog they see, while others are called “dog solo” which means they prefer to be with people than other dogs. As a general rule, I don’t let client dogs meet other dogs, and I certainly wasn’t going to meet this out-of-control dog.

While your might consider your dog friendly, the other dog may not be. In fact, it may be reactive toward other dogs and you’re setting it up for failure.

The greenways around the Roanoke Valley are very popular walking spots for people and their dogs. What precautions should you take when you encounter another dog? These tips can also be used when encountering people without dogs, joggers, and bikers on the Greenway.

· When you’re out walking your dog and you come across another dog, move to the right and put your dog on your right. Hopefully the other person will do the same, meaning there are at least two people between the dogs in case one suddenly lunges at the other dog.

· Keep your dog close to you. If you are using a flexi leash, keep it short and locked until you and your dog walk safely past the other owner. I recommend using a 4 or 6-foot leash made of fabric that you can quickly use to keep your dog by your side.

· If your dog is prone to react at the sight of another dog close by, use “Look at That” or “Look at Me” techniques to get your dog to focus on you instead of the other dog. If you need more space, move to the right onto the grass for safety. Use as much space as you need to keep everyone safe.

· I don’t recommend having dogs meet because while you know your dog is friendly, the other dog may not be. The phrase “my dog is friendly” doesn’t mean a thing. Their dog may be friendly 99.99 percent of the time but there’s always that one instance.

· They may sniff around for a few seconds and then something could go terribly wrong so it’s best if the dogs don’t meet.

· You can only control your dog. Do what you need to do to protect your dog from careless walkers who are on their phone, oblivious to the fact their dog wants to eat yours.

· If your dog loves people and someone without a dog asks to meet, move off the grass so you don’t interrupt the flow of traffic.

Use your time on the Greenway to get some exercise and spend some quality time with your dog. Enjoy the scenery and fresh air and keep your walking companion safe from harm.

***We can show you how to perform “Look at That” and Look at Me” as part of our dog training services. You can view our training programs and then contact us at (540) 353-2485 or


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