What’s Your Town’s Dog Culture – Take Our Polls

An acquaintance waved to me as Honey and I walked toward him.

He was walking his friend’s dog.

The two pups were obviously interested in each other so I asked him if it was okay for them to meet. They frolicked a bit. Then the other dog gave Honey a little snark.

I told Honey, “leave it” and the two of us walked a few steps to give the dogs distance from each other.

The man turned to his dog and said, “Good job. Way to communicate.”

I loved it. Someone who really understood how dogs talk.

And it wasn’t even his dog.

Maybe dog culture is better in my town than I thought it was.

Honey the golden retriever plays tug with a hound puppy.

I learned how to play in puppy class at the SPCA. No wonder I never get into arguments.

What Is Dog Culture?

Perhaps I should explain what I mean by dog culture.

It’s how dogs are thought of and treated by the majority of people in a community.

You might not have heard the phrase before. But you probably know places (or live in one) where most dogs roam freely, those on leash poop freely, and you know of at least two or three backyards with a dog chained to a post or dog house.

Or maybe you live in a place like Edmonton, whose pet lovers advocated to end laws banning pit bulls or where they have 41 (wow, 41?) off-leash areas for dogs to roam with their people.

Most of us probably live where dog culture is a mix of the positive and the negative.

I know I do.

Honey the golden retriever wonders why dogs aren't allowed.

No dogs allowed? Why wouldn’t you allow dogs on an outdoor, pedestrian mall? Well, I didn’t want to go to your stinking mall anyway.

Ithaca Dog Culture

Ithaca is schizophrenic when it comes to dogs.

Our local SPCA was the first open-admission, no-kill shelter in the U.S. They work very hard to find homes for dogs, including doing extensive behavior work under the guidance of Casey Lomonaco. (If her name is familiar to you, it may be from her blogging at the Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Star Daily website.)

I rarely find poop left behind on our walks. And I regularly see my neighbors clicking and treating their dogs as they work together.

And yet, both our outdoor pedestrian mall and our largest, lakeshore park do not allow dogs at all. Funnily enough, our nearby indoor mall has two pet festivals a year, a grooming business, and an annex for adopting cats from the local SPCA.

Looking for an apartment that allows dogs? I hope you’re wealthy.

Honey the Golden Retriever jumpin

My person says she loves apartment living and she only owns a house for me. Wow, I’m a pretty expensive pup.

And if you’re looking for dog training help at our local library, you will find some great books by Patricia McConnell, Karen Pryor, Pat Miller, and Ian Dunbar.

But you’ll find nearly as many promoting outdated and inhumane “training” techniques as well as a raft of videos by a popular television personality whose shows always start with a “don’t try this at home” warning. Yeah, like we need to learn from a trainer whose advice could be dangerous.

See? Schizophrenic dog culture.

Honey the Golden Retriever is not allowed in the park.

Really? Another downtown park that doesn’t allow dogs? What do you think we’re going to do to the place?

What’s Your Dog Culture Polls

So I’m curious. Is your town’s dog culture overwhelmingly dog friendly? Dog unfriendly? Or a crazy mixture?

Take the polls so we can find out. Choose the answers that best apply to your town.





I’m curious to learn more about dog culture. If you are too, share this post on your Facebook page, Twitter, or blog. Let’s see what dog culture really looks like.

Your Turn: Is there another aspect of dog culture I missed in the polls? How could you describe the dog culture of your town?

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  1. It is a mixture. It seems most dogs live indoors and get regular walks while others live outdoors and don’t. I generally meet polite dog owners on walks who will walk across the street to avoid confrontation because they know how their dogs are. I do the same with Pierson. Maya’s met a few dogs on walks where both me and the other party asked if it was okay if they meet. On the other hand, Maya has been attacked by two off-leash dogs and nearly had a third incident with two other loose dogs. I’ve had to pick Pierson up out of the way on two other occasions with loose dogs so that he would not hurt them. The dogs were in their unfenced yard and came out of it to confront Pierson. Luckily owners were nearby but neither had any control whatsoever over their dogs.

    • Was it Robert Frost who said good fences make good neighbors? Sounds like that’s even more true in neighborhoods with lots of dogs.

      I’m sorry you’ve had problems with off-leash dogs. It’s one of the hardest things to deal with because you can’t plan for something you can’t see happening.

  2. Where we are in Utah sucks for dogs. No dog parks, they are pretty much banned everywhere, and people are idiots. Mind you, this is an area of about 100,ooo people too. Backwards, that’s all I can say. And Pamela…..we all miss you!!

    • Hope you get to move onto a better spot soon.

      But your comments make me wonder: is there any correlation between communities with lots of DADOs and places that aren’t very happy for people either? Or do the two have nothing to do with each other.

      And I’ll be back to FB soon. You can only do what you can do, y’know? :(

  3. Most people around here are good with their dogs, but not a lot of them go on walks and a few knuckleheads leave them kenneled outdoors in all weather. It is always amazing talking to other dog owners and finding out how much they don’t know about dogs,though.

    • It’s hard to expect people to know much about dogs when a lot of the information out there is so outdated and just plain wrong.

      Maybe we need an Emma tv show to set the record straight. :)

  4. Unfortunately, the closer you to live to large cities, the more you run into bad dog owners…which is the case in my town.

    • Hmmmm, that makes me curious. Lots of the DADO stories I hear about dogs on the loose and being tied up in the back yard happen in really rural areas. Maybe the greater concentration of dogs and people near the city make it more likely that you’ll run across DADOs on a regular basis.

  5. Ignorant. That’s the culture. I seldom tell people in what city I am located. There’s a stigma that goes with living here. People think it is perfectly acceptable to not pick up after their dogs and even more acceptable to allow their dogs to roam free and crap wherever on other people’s lawns. There are also a shocking number of people that tie their dogs up outside and leave them out there all the time. The law is, as long as the dog has access to shade and water, it’s acceptable. Even our city laws about animal welfare are abysmal. While the local pound has improved in helping get dogs adopted so the kill rate is lower, it is hard for them to educate such an ignorant mindset. Burn out among the pound staff is high. The general public doesn’t care about how to properly care for a pet and they don’t really want to know. The leash laws are all but ignored by most, if not all, dog owners – even in the park where there are small children running around – dogs are off leash. The Park Rangers do their best to keep on top of it – but they are outnumbered by idiot dog owners. And cats are considered nuisance animals so there is no regulation there. Cats in our area have a short life expectancy because most of them are allowed to roam freely, often unaltered. While the entire city isn’t like that – the group of us that actually know what good animal husbandry and pet ownership are all about – are in the minority.

    • How sad. It must feel very depressing for the small minority of people with strong relationships with their animals.

      I’ve heard about people who have set up really great dog groups at meetup.com. I wonder if there are enough people in your area who would find it encouraging to occasionally get together IRL to do dog stuff?

      When I was choosing where to move after I decided to leave Philadelphia, I only thought a little about the dog-friendliness of my new home. Now I would definitely make those considerations higher on the list.

  6. Dog owners in my area are hit and miss about cleaning up after their dogs, despite dog bins being provided.

    • Yucky, someone needs to tell the people in your area there is no poop fairy to clean up after them.

      I feel very lucky that most people do clean up after their pups in my area. Unfortunately, when someone does leave poop behind, I always seem to find it after I step in it.

  7. I live in a rural area (which is 99% national forest) so your questions don’t really fit with the life here. But, like most places it is a mixture. Almost every place is an off-leash area. Some people can control their dogs off-leash and others can’t. Most people only let their dogs outdoors without leashes when they are supervising them. But there is a distant neighbor (1 mile away) whose dogs have been wandering by themselves past my house for 15 yrs (two generations of dogs). I hear that others do this too, despite the multiple killings of wandering dogs by cougars.

    Some people use modern training techniques but some people have shock collars on their dogs. What a crazy crazy mixture of dog owners we have!

    • I wondered if dogs in more rural areas learn a better skill set for being off leash. According to you, it appears that it’s hit or miss and probably depends on both the nature of the dog and his person.

      I do see shock collars more in areas where people have their dogs at a greater distance from them. I hope someday they disappear from the market.

  8. I moved from the Twin Cities in Minnesota — incredibly dog friendly and well educated — to Colorado three years ago and was shocked by the Breed Specific Legislation (pitbull ban) in Denver. I had pitbulls for years in Minnesota and had never even heard of a BSL! I think once the BSLs are eliminated, my new state will be very dog friendly. But as long as my registered therapy dog cannot legally enter the city of Denver, I have to rate my new home’s dog culture as pretty bad. I volunteer at my local animal shelter and give tours to many school groups, so hopefully the next generation of Coloradans will be better educated and the culture will improve!

  9. What scares me most about dog culture is, as with most of life, the people who know about dogs and are conscientious aren’t the ones making the rules or deciding what will and won’t be allowed!

  10. Interesting survey results so far. The area where I live is completely different from a nearby small town where a lot of dogs are chained outside and pretty territorial. We often drive into town to do a walk and it’s interesting seeing the contrast of dogs and their owners. We do have to be careful to avoid some aggressive dogs that are known to run loose.

  11. It’s kind of a mix where we live. Many people pick up after their dogs but we also see tons of poo left behind by rude dog owners, including in my yard! (Just wait till I figure out which neighbor is doing that!) We have leash and poo pickup laws, but they are not often enforced. I see lots of dogs living outside in backyards, but also quite a few dogs who live indoors.
    Most dogs I see are not trained very well, often we laugh as we watch someone being dragged down the street by their dog. We gets lots of compliments because I walk both Dante and Ziva in a proper heel when we’re out and about, when most owners can’t handle a single dog.

    What’s really sad is that right now we do not have a breed ban (that’s the good news), the sad part is that it means I see lots of homeless people and “trailer trash” types strung out on drugs and alcohol with powerful bully breeds. Unfortunately within the last 6 months we had a “pit bull” type dog attack a small child, and one innocent “pit bull” type dog who (was in her own yard I should mention!) was shot by a police officer! The stigma around “Pit bull” type dogs is growing and we are worried about a potential breed ban.
    Most people i’ve met don’t understand that “pit bull” isn’t a breed – it’s an umbrella term for many different dog breeds. And I’ve even had a man approach me telling me you can’t have two of those “pit bull” dogs because they will fight with each other. :-( It makes me sad because while we are trying to be good dog owners and promote breed ambassadors, no matter how hard we train the stigma still exists. We’ve changed a few people’s minds about our dogs, but they don’t believe that it translates to other bully breeds. It’s frustrating to say the least.

  12. Dog culture where we live is nice, but I yearn to move south – Charleston specifically, because there, dogs seem to be as important when it comes to the city trying to please. Love that place/

    • I’ve never been to Charleston but I hear it’s lovely. I really hope to sail there some day.

      Now that you’ve told me it’s particularly dog friendly, I’ll make a point of visiting.