Walking your dog in a tourist town

Walking a dog anywhere requires a certain amount of etiquette for both you and your dog. There are always new and old furry friends to greet, as well as special “sniff spots.” We love walking in our town – and so do the tourists! So walking your dog in Celebration involves a whole other set of challenges for you and your pooch.

Unlike walking in most places, walking here often involves navigating groups of people who may be chatting and are with small children or strollers that take up most of the sidewalk. An approaching dog or the extreme opposite may frighten some folks – approaching your dog to pet him/her without asking your permission. Small children may approach, coming too close very quickly. A curious puppy or very social dog may approach them. Walking downtown has more temptations. Not only more crowds and dogs, but also food smells too. Often these potential problems can be minimized by walking with your dog to your right and shortening the leash. A “heel,” “sit” or “stay” command will help too. Carrying training treats can help your pooch learn his/her manners as there are many practice opportunities.

Bicycles pose a different set of problems. They can come from behind quietly, or with a bell, or a verbal warning. Any of these can be startling. Many also have a small dog passenger in front or back. Speed is part of the issue here, as bikes can appear in front or from behind very quickly due to the curving paths. Because we have bike rentals, not all folks are familiar with the paths and may not be regular riders. Keeping your pet to the right is helpful here too.

There are also the issues unique to Celebration. It is not everywhere that a Segway tour group comes riding by. I’ve not seen any dog react to them, but it’s one more thing to be on your radar.

The Farmers’ Market is wonderful opportunity for walking and enjoying our downtown. Your dog must be under control for this excursion, as there are smells, sounds, and sights that can be overwhelming. Introducing your pet to this by going before or just after opening, or at the very end of the day, is a way for you to enjoy the experience without stressing you or your dog. Again, don’t forget the training treats.

Having a dog is a terrific excuse to explore our whole town. Drive with Fido to an area of town you have not explored on foot, and walk around there. Yes, there may be a flapping flag that startles your pooch, or maybe the ball machine is tossing tennis balls at the courts for a fascinating few minutes. With practice and training, you and your dog will be able to enjoy walks while easily navigating around potential problems. That way, you too can be a tourist, walking your dog and enjoying our town.

 

The above article appears in the September 2019 edition of the Celebration News

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