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Dog walking etiquette: Should you walk your dog on the left or the right?

Joan Morris, The Mercury News on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Dear Joan: My dog, Wanda, is taking chemo for lymphoma and fortunately, she's doing great. I'm trying to get her on nice trail walks several times a week, and this raises a question.

My habit is to walk on the left side of the trail, with Wanda on leash to my left. This way I'm between Wanda and other oncoming dogs and their people as we pass. Wanda loves everyone and wants to jump up on them and this helps me control her.

I thought it was customary to walk on the left side, but more often than not, oncoming walkers and joggers position themselves to pass on Wanda's side. Is there trail etiquette of which I'm unaware?

-- Sue

Dear Sue: The general rule for walking on trails is to stay to the right and pass on the left. As to which side the dog goes on, show and hunting dogs are trained to stay on their human's left side, but for most dogs, it doesn't matter. Experts, however, suggest you pick a side -- left or right -- and keep to it so that the dog doesn't accidentally trip you going back and forth.

My dog seems to prefer the left, but maybe that's just his politics.


When encountering another dog, especially one you and your dog don't know, it is wiser to put yourself between your dog and the passing one. Whether you do that or not, it's important to pull your dog into your side and keep it on a short leash.

There are five basic rules of etiquette when it comes to walking your dog. Don't go onto a neighbor's yard, lawn, garden or property unless invited; scoop the poop and take it with you; don't assume everyone likes your dog as much as you do -- some people don't like dogs and some are terrified of them; don't assume the dog or person you are passing is interested in being friends; and keep your dog on a leash.

How you choose to pass other dogs and people is not a choice Miss Manners would comment on or criticize. Being safe is the most important thing. I hope Wanda continues to do well with the chemo.

Dear Joan: I put in a very nice winter garden of broccoli, red cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and lettuce. To my distress, some critter has been eating the plants mercilessly. The leaves are often eaten down to the stub.


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