New dog owners should know the rules to avoid conflict. (Getty Images)

As the weather gets warmer, more pet owners rely on daily walks with their dogs to ease pandemic-induced anxiety. But even for the most responsible dog walkers, taking a stroll can be anything but relaxing. 

Like many people who walk their dogs, Rebekah Peterman of Glen Cove has seen her fair share of confrontation. 

“I had a neighbor scream at me to curb my dog,” she says. “Not long after, rat poison was found on their property. The city was notified and the poison was removed, but I am personally offended that someone would try to poison an animal to make a point.”

To help avoid confrontation with not-so-pet-friendly neighbors, here are simple steps dog owners can take to keep their pets safe and neighbors at ease. 

It may seem obvious, but first and foremost, always avoid walking your dog on someone else’s property. Local regulations restrict where the public is legally allowed to curb a dog.  Regulations differ slightly, but typically allow dog walkers to utilize the strip between the street and the sidewalk, and in some areas, the grass between the curb and sidewalk is considered public easement and therefore fair game. But wherever a dog does its business, the walker is required to immediately remove all items in a plastic bag, which must be sealed and deposited in a covered garbage receptacle.

That is followed by the next suggestion: Never leave a used bag in someone else’s garbage can (yes, even on garbage day). It may seem tempting to unload the goods as quickly as possible, but don’t give neighbors another reason to get upset. It’s easier to dispose of it at home than to get into an argument about it. There are plenty of products on the market, including bag holders that hang on leashes and even harnesses that house bags to avoid getting caught bagless.

If caught in a confrontational situation, remain calm and respectful. Avoiding problematic homes on a route is always the best solution, but there are certainly times when that is not possible. 

“We can’t be expected to carry around a scrub brush and bucket,” says dog owner Dawn Ohaire of Deer Park, “but we can certainly try our best to keep the peace between dog walkers and homeowners.”

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