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Opinion: Squamish, can we follow some basic dog owner etiquette, please?

'If we could all get on the same page about dog owner etiquette, it would make life much easier for four and two-legged locals.'
Toby on a Squamish Trail.
As I write, my recently adopted border collie Toby, is sleeping at my feet after a day on the trails.

From his peaceful slumber, you wouldn’t guess how much this one-year-old SPCA rescue has already overcome.

He was part of an SPCA seizure at a puppy mill and needed a lot of treatment — he even survived parvo.

He was eventually adopted but later surrendered back to the shelter.

Not surprisingly, he has some issues. He will bark or lunge if spooked, especially if startled by folks on bikes or men in baseball hats.

We knew what we were getting into, did our research, and have lined up professional training.

Of course, Squamish is an amazing place for him and all dogs.

Toby already seems at home here.

Metres from our front door is “his” backyard trail with a stream and forested area.

And thankfully, many of the dog owners and the pooches we have encountered have been amazingly understanding and given Toby a wide berth.

But some in town either don’t know — or refuse to follow — basic dog etiquette.

This isn’t to finger — er tail — wag. I likely did some of the same “wrong” things over the years.

(I see now that saying “my dog is friendly” when someone didn’t want their dog to meet mine was the opposite of helpful.)

Still, if we could all get on the same page about dog owner etiquette, it would make life much easier for four and two-legged locals.

Some folks have walked up to Toby and tried to pet him without asking.

Don’t do that. Given a chance, I will say ‘no,’ not to be rude, but to be kind to both Toby and the person approaching.

I am training him. He has issues, and approaching him without any warning may not end well for anyone involved.

Would you walk up and touch a stranger’s child without permission?  

I hope not.

The same goes for someone else’s dog.

Of course, the world doesn’t have to adapt, so my ‘snowflake’ of a dog feels OK; that isn’t what I am saying.

I am instead advocating for a social dog etiquette agreement that makes Squamish more comfortable for all.

Here’s what the Animal Humane Society considers bare-bones rules:

  • Scoop your poop and throw the bags in a garbage can — enough said.
  • Only let your dog greet a stranger if they ask — and always ask before greeting someone else’s dog.
  • Leash your dog. (I know, I know, there are unofficial places in our region where it is likely OK. But if you don’t have reliable recall, leash up, especially on the popular trails around town.)
  • Don’t let your dog play with another dog while on leash — not all dogs like this, and it can lead to injury.
  • Apologize if your dog causes someone to be upset.

And, just like with fellow humans, don’t assume. You never know what a dog has been through before he made it to the Squamish trail.