By Casey Coke Murphy, Pet Behaviorist
Remember the old saying that “Fences make good neighbors?” It turns out pets make even better ones!
A study from the University of Western Australia and the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition found that pet owners report stronger neighborhood social connections than non-pet owners – things like friendliness, helpfulness and trust between neighbors.
In fact, dog owners are five times more likely to get to know people in their neighborhoods compared with other pet owners. That’s one reason our BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program is working to help communities be more pet-friendly.
But before you can enjoy the social bonds that pets create, it helps to make sure you and your pet are being good neighbors. Try these six pet-iquette tips:
1. Do your duty
Forgetting to clean up pet waste can mean an unpleasant surprise for your neighbor. When your dog does his or her duty, be sure to do yours too. Clean up pet waste and dispose of it in the appropriate garbage bin. Don’t assume it’s okay to put into a neighbor’s bin or community garbage.
2. Love the leash
Most communities require that dogs be on a leash. Even when it’s not required, though, a leash helps protect your pet, your surroundings and those you meet along the way. It also helps you keep hold of your pet if he sees something he wants to chase, like a squirrel or bike.
3. Keep ‘em clean
Regular grooming is important for your pet’s health and wellness, but it also helps her be a better neighbor! A well-brushed coat is less likely to still be shedding last week’s rainy-day mud. Well-trimmed nails are less likely to scratch. And well-brushed teeth…well, nobody likes doggy or kitty kisses with stinky breath.
4. Know your dog
People have occasional grumpy days and pets are no different. Know your pet’s body language so you can better predict when he or she might be more or less open to meeting someone new or trying a new activity. When you recognize and respect how your pet is feeling, it helps protect everyone.
5. Train, train, train
Training with your dog increases your bond with him or her while also teaching important cues such as “sit,” “stay,” “come” and “leave it.” This helps both you and your dog to be confident while out together and meeting new people and other pets. Many professional training courses are available to help both you and your dog learn these important tools.
6. Have fun
Not only is active play good for your pet’s health and wellness, it’s good for yours too. A well-exercised pet is less likely to bark and whine, which could disturb your neighbors. Exercise helps eliminate boredom as well, so your furry friend may be less likely to dig or chew on inappropriate objects. Regular exercise and play will also help keep your pet at a healthy weight, which is important for their overall health!
Learn a pet-iquette tip you didn’t know, or have another one to offer? Please share this article on social media and add your two cents. We’re @marspetcareus.