Owning a dog brings on new responsibilities. You need to worry about where he relieves himself, where he is at all times, and most important, ensure that he does not bite anyone. It is important to know the laws in your area, and make sure you follow them. Leash laws are pretty much everywhere, mainly because dogs are large enough animals to inflict severe injuries on others and sometimes even death. Everyone has heard of the dog mauling case in San Francisco, where a women was attacked and killed by a neighbor’s dog right in front of the owner. The dog owner was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to four years in prison. As a dog owner, these issues can become real in the blink of an eye. Whether it’s a murder case, or even a small dog bite case of involving one of your neighbor’s kids, this is no laughing matter. If your dog bites someone, provoked or not, it is likely that you can (and probably will) be sued.

When you are walking your dog in the park or wherever, he should always be on a leash. There are electronic leashes that are very effective, but you will have to check the laws in your area to see if they are considered legal. The leash and collar should be strong enough that when your dog wants to make a break for it, you can hold him. If you are not strong enough to hold your dog, he should be walked by someone who is. One of the biggest causes of death in cats is a dog attack. People love their animals, and keeping your dog away from their animals will help to keep neighborly relations friendly.

When you and your dog meet a stranger, it is best to keep your dog close to you with no slack in the leash. Do not let anyone pet him, unless you know for SURE that your dog will not bite strangers. If he bites someone even when they pet him without asking, you can be at fault. Even if you warn them that he might bite, and your dog does bite, you are liable. A dog who bites can be euthanized, so don’t fool around with this.

If your dog “poops” when being walked, it is your responsibility to clean up the mess. This is a law in most cities. The easiest thing to do is carry a few Ziploc bags, big enough for your dog’s mess. When he goes, just turn it inside out, put your hand in the bag (now inside out), and grab the blob, and pull your hand through to make the bag right side out. Zip it closed, and dispose of the waste properly. It’s a yucky job, but better the dog owner does it than expect some stranger to take care of it. Neighborly relations are important, especially when you are walking by everyday!

Keep you dog off of other people’s lawns and out of their flower beds! We all know your dog loves to smell everything, but many people go to great lengths to keep their yard looking pretty, and don’t appreciate your dog trampling through their flowers and pooping on their lawn. If you want him to sniff and smell green grass (never mind eat it), take him to a dog park. There are many dog parks where you can bring your dog and he can roam around off leash. Find one in your area, but remember, other dogs will be there too, so you have to be ready for dog/dog conflicts so remember your dog park etiquette!

Don’t let your dog slobber on strangers. You might think your dog is adorable and sweet when he wants to be friendly with strangers, but some people don’t like dogs and don’t appreciate dog slobber and “germs”. We don’t know who they are, so it’s best to keep him close to you around strangers unless someone asks to be slobbered on. And again, be careful, if he bites it’s still your fault even when they ask to pet him!