Off-leash etiquette

Many Austin parks and trails allow for off-leash hiking. For dogs who are well-behaved, this is a great opportunity for the dog to bond with her owner (since she’s listening to his every command, right?), sniff out her daily pee-mail, go for a refreshing swim and greet other dogs in a natural and friendly way.

Off-leash etiquette in Austin

There are a few things to remember when taking your dog off leash, however.

      • Is she really ready?
        Before venturing to the nearest dog park or off-leash trail, make sure your dog has mastered the basic obedience required to bring her back to you. Practice on a longer leash in a secure area until you feel confident she will return to you even with a variety of distractions. If she is the type to get nervous around other dogs, it might be a good idea to take her to some group classes to help her socialize and learn proper doggy language first.
      • If there are signs that tell you to keep your dog on leash, keep your dog on leash!
        No matter how friendly your dog is, it’s bad etiquette to let him run up to another dog who is on a leash in leashed area. First of all, there may be a good reason that owner is walking the dog in a leashed area. They may be working on obedience training or on getting their more fearful dog comfortable around other dogs. Having an off-leash dog barrel up in an excited greeting may seem cute to the owner, but to the leashed dog it can be intimidating and tension can escalate quickly. This rule applies to your daily stroll around the neighborhood block, too!
        Quincy _ dog walker in Lakeway
      • Even if you’re in an off-leash area, stay close to your dog
        This is sometimes easier said than done, we know. But do your best! If your dog has a tendency to run off to chase birds, squirrels, cars, dogs, or the passing air current, work on his obedience training before taking him to an off-leash trail or park. Staying close to your dog and knowing he will respond to you is vital for his safety and the safety of every dog and person around you. Even when you’re in a fenced-in area, please stay alert and close to your dog no matter how tempting it is to instead catch up on the daily gossip with your fellow dog-owners.
        off-leash Austin
      • Pick up the poop
        Having your dog off leash is no excuse to turn the other way. Not only is it bad etiquette, but it is also damaging to the environment, can spread illness and can make someone really, really cranky when she steps in it!
      • If you see another dog getting nervous, walk your dog away
        Your good-natured lab doesn’t mean any harm when she’s trying to share another dog’s tennis ball, but the other dog might give off some warning signs that you should respect if your dog doesn’t seem to notice. If the other dog tries to ignore your dog or exhibits other nervous signals like stiffening, growling, snarling or general discomfort, don’t encourage your dog to stick around. You don’t need to drag her away (in fact that will make it worse), but just calmly continue on your walk and call your dog to follow you.
        Barking lunging at dogs on leash
  • Be alert
    Here in Texas we are blessed with an abundance of beautiful nature trails and watering holes. With them, though, comes the risk of encountering poisonous snakes, painful fire ants and unpredictable drop-offs, sharp rocks and sudden currents. As long as you stay alert and present, you should be able to steer your companion away from any potential dangers. When in doubt, put his leash on for a few minutes until you’re on safer ground.
    Bull Creek _ Neo _ Enrichment _ walk your dog somewhere new in Austin

See additional Gusto Dogs resources and training tips