Our expert suggests how to take a subtle approach to sidewalk hogs

September 01, 2009 08:46 PM

Here’s a party game you don’t want to play on the sidewalk: leash limbo!

It’s no fun when a dog owner has let their leash out too far, obstructing your path with their dog and a lead – who wants to trip? But even less of thrill is trying to let the offender know what’s correct protocol when taking a walk on the sidewalk with their furry pal. So how do you do it without causing a scene?

We asked the advice of dog trainer Kyra Sundance, author of The Dog Rules: 14 Secrets to Developing the Dog You Want, who says a human should never be forced off the sidewalk to make room for a dog.

“It is likely that the owner thinks of his dog as the most adorable thing in the world, and assumes everyone else does too,” says Sundance. “It probably doesn’t occur to him that other people might not want to be approached by his dog. Be careful to not direct your frustration at the dog, as it is not his fault.”

She suggests approaching the situation with a little subtle embarrassment. “Talk directly to the dog rather than the owner and use a lighthearted tone: ‘Hey Tiger, do you think you own the sidewalk here? How about giving me a little space?’ or ‘One nose-print on my clothes, mister, and you’re in the doghouse!’ ” she says.

Of course, subtlety doesn’t work with everyone, so sometimes you need to be more direct. “Be polite and simply inform the owner of your wishes. ‘Please reign in your dog,’ ” she suggests. “And when the owner complies, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of a simple: ‘Thank you, I appreciate that.’ “

How would you deal with this situation? Leave your suggestion in the comments below!

Do you have a Petiquette dilemma you’d like to share? Email us at tips@peoplepets.com!

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