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Here’s what you can do to Be A.W.A.R.E.


Dogs may be suddenly startled by loud noises or by quick movements in their environment. Pet owners that remain alert and attentive to their surroundings are better prepared to respond to potential problem situations and keep their pet safe by preventing lunging or darting away.



  • Scan the environment for potential distractions. Watch for people, animals or loud equipment that might startle your pet.

  • Put cell phones away. Pay attention to your dog so you can observe changes in behavior. Sudden alert or aroused behavior provides an early indicator that you may want to change course and move in a different direction.

  • Keep your pet in a well-fitted collar or harness. Well-fitted equipment will not allow your dog to slip out of it and potentially get away from you.

  • Keep your pet within a few feet of you. When in populated areas or near heavy traffic, use a standard leash or keep retractible leashes locked to no more than a 6 foot length.


You can avoid problem encounters by walking away. Pets that feel

nervous or insecure have an increased likelihood of behaving

defensively. They may respond by scratching, barking, growling, or

biting when they are held back or restrained on a leash. For everyone’s

safety move with intention and walk away if you have any doubts about

an interaction.

If you fear appearing rude or confrontational simply excuse yourself

by saying your pet isn’t feeling well and just keep moving!



  • Do not force your pet to say hello to a person or other pet. Dogs that are hesitant, backing up, cowering, tail tucked, hackled up, snarling, or growling are not feeling at ease and my not be capable of safely saying hello, no matter how much you may want them to be. Do not force the interaction.

  • If your pet is highly social and friendly don’t allow them to impose on other people or pets without express permission. Just because your dog is friendly doesn’t mean they have a right to intrude in another’s personal space. Not everyone is an animal lover or comfortable being approached by an excited dog.

  • If you encounter another pet or person not interested in exchanging a greeting always maintain control and a polite distance.


Others may want to greet or touch your pet when you’re out in public with them. Carefully consider whether or not you will allow others to say hello or touch. If your pet nips, scratches or otherwise causes any sort of injury to another person or animal, you may  be held legally responsible. Asking people to admire but not to touch can be the best choice in many situations.



  • If you are at all concerned about your pets response to being greeted by another person or animal, politely decline.

  • If needed, position yourself in between others and your pet. 

Tips for Admirers and animal lovers:

  • Even if you’re an animal lover, always ask permission to interact with other people’s pets. If permission is denied, respect the other person’s wishes and politely admire from a distance.

  • Don’t excitedly point out pets to your children or encourage them to rush in to “say hi” or “hug the puppy”. Children should be taught to politely stay back, ask permission and if denied, admire from a distance.

  • Pets are not public property. Treat pet owners with the same respect you would if someone was admiring one of your valuable possessions.


Practice responsible behavior by always picking up after your pet and controlling their behavior.


  • Pick up and remove your pets feces from public areas.

  • Do not allow your pet to jump on, scratch at or sniff other people or pets without permission.

  • Do not allow your pet to urinate or urine mark in undesirable locations (ie: street, vendor carts, inside public buildings, near commercial doorways, etc.)

  • Interrupt and control nuisance barking.


Lead by example. Educate yourself about how to interact with pets in public and  spread the word by sharing your knowledge of responsible pet ownership with others.



  • If you see someone not picking up after their pet, politely offer a waste bag or assistance if needed.

  • Share Be A.W.A.R.E Pet Owner information with friends. 


For more information:

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