Communities seem to be more and more accommodating when it comes to pet-friendly spaces for animal lovers, whether it’s a restaurant providing patio space and a water-bowl, a fenced in dog park or even a business-owner allowing Fido inside the shop itself.

For those with pets, it can be a dream come true. Who wouldn’t want their pet to join them for their morning coffee and a stroll?

As the owner, you are responsible for your pet’s behavior in public, at a loved one’s home, around children and other animals and any other circumstance you subject your animal to. Before taking advantage of these privileges, review the Do’s & Don’ts to ensure your pet’s etiquette is top-notch in public spaces.

When Out for a Walk

» Do keep your animal on a leash, no matter what the leash laws are.

Even if your animal is well-trained and answers to voice commands, the leash provides the owner control over who the animal walks up to and helps to prevent your pet from becoming lost.

Surprises can occur that may throw your pet off of its game - like a child running up to pet her unannounced. Additionally, not everyone has the same attitude towards animals or has as friendly an animal as you do, so we must be respectful of their personal space.

» Don’t allow your animal to pull at the leash unnecessarily or jump. Keep your animal close-by as another person or animal passes.

Your pet should only be allowed to go up to another with permission from the other person. It is important for the safety of everyone involved that you provide leash training so that your pet is not injured by another animal or person who doesn’t appreciate being jumped on.

» Do clean up after your pet.

Your pet should not be allowed to urinate on other people’s mailboxes, lawns or plants; however, if any waste should occur do clean it up.

At a shop or restaurant

» Don’t allow your pet to bark. No one wants to “that person” who can’t control their animal so if your pet is barking, take it away from the excitement so he or she can calm down.

» Do bring a toy to keep your animal occupied. A food-dispensing toy or chew bone can be great options.

Feeding your animal prior to your visit can also help prevent it from begging while at a restaurant. It is a good idea to let your pet burn off excess energy with a walk or run before going to an exciting environment.

» Don’t let the animal mark his or her territory.

Respect the business and allow your animal the opportunity to potty in appropriate areas. Make sure to be prepared just in case there is an accident so you can clean up after your pet.

» Do be sensitive to your animal and ask yourself if it would be comfortable in that environment.

No matter the age, temperament or socialization of your pet, anxiety can occur due to new sounds, people and smells. If your pet seems uncomfortable, anxious or over-excited, it would be best to remove the animal from the area and re-evaluate the environment.

Writing this column is a personal reminder of this. My dog was socialized from a very young age and always went with me everywhere I went. I joke that she was practically raised in a coffee shop because I adopted her when I was in my college years during which I studied in a coffee shop daily.

She is dog, child and stranger-friendly; however, as she has gotten “older” (age 6), her sense of hearing has become more sensitive. Sounds and noises that never previously bothered her, like the beeping of a timer or the sudden steam from the espresso machine, are now bothersome.

The anxiety shows in a few different ways - panting, trembling/shaking and looking around quickly and panicked.

Not all dogs will show anxiety the same way and leaving your animal in a “scary” situation will not lead to anything positive.

If your animal is showing any of the behaviors listed above, it’s time to make a decision. For some, you may be able to walk your animal outside, reassure them and try again. For others, this might mean leaving the location completely.

No matter the situation, you should do what is best for your pet even if it means leaving them at home.

Column by Sidney Hancock, Outreach & Development coordinator with the Lee County Humane Society.

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