I was asked by a colleague to discuss the finer points of pet ownership in the suburbs.  I welcomed the chance to explore how one can enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer while keeping themselves from running afoul of their neighbors peaceful existence.  It can be challenging to live with pets and without pets in suburbia.
As an owner of show dogs in the hamlet of Armonk, I take extra precautions to be a good neighbor and responsible dog owner.  My dogs are not left out to bark and are only really outside when it’s permitted by town ordinance.  They are housepets and come and go as they please between 6 am and 10 pm.  I often walk them, never lingering near a neighbors dog who is barking feverishly.  However, my neighbors with dogs may not adhere to the strictest of codes with their dogs.
To be a good dog neighbor in the suburbs there are a few simple rules of thumb to live by:
1.). Keep your dog on your property unless on a leash and with you on a walk
2.) Walk quickly past a neighbors barking dog, or walk a different way.
3.) Pick up after your dog no matter where s/he relieves themselves
4.) Make sure your dog is safely inside and not in/out barking while you are/aren’t home.
These simple steps will make suburban pet ownership a much more user friendly process.
1.) Keeping your dog on your property unless leashed and with you on a walk.
Don’t assume other pet owners want your dog on their property. Non pet owners also frown upon being greeted by your dog in the morning.
2.) Walk quickly past a neighbors barking dog or take another way
               Walking on a beautiful backroad with your dog on a leash and a refuse bag in your pocket seems the perfect afternoon pastime.  Remember to respect your neighbors right to have their dog out and don’t linger while their dog barks at your passing.  If you are the property owner be aware of walker patterns and bring your dog in at  particularly busy time of day.  This will limit the noise you and the rest of the neighbors are subject to by the barking of your dog.  As the walker, if you know a dog is out and will bark at your passing, do it quickly or take an alternate route. planning ahead will make the walker and home owner live in harmony and bucolic silence.
3.)  Pick up after our dog no matter where s/he relieves themselves
In suburbia it is tempting to let your dog off the lead and have them relieve themselves in the woods.. Who will know, right?  It is common courtesy to pick up after your pet.  The next walker does not want to be surprised by a pets refuse as they walk the same path.  There is nothing worse then ‘poo on a shoe’ as you are enjoying the wonders of nature.  It brings you right back to reality as several of your senses are assaulted.
4.)    Make sure your dog is safely inside and not outside/inside barking while you are/aren’t home.
This is a pet peeve of many suburbanites.  It seems they leave their dog out while they aren’t home.  We all know of the nightmare that is a dog left alone in an apartment while the owner is out who barks insistently.  The rally of support to stop this nuisance is easily attainable.  In suburbia it seems some feel dogs bark, it is between the hours allowed by code so grin and bear it.  Or neighbors get into confrontations over the annoying dog. 
The best alternative  to leaving the  out all day is to hire a dog walker.  This could run the gammet from a retiree to high school student each trying to make a little extra money.  They can throw the ball, let the dog relieve him/herself and entertain the dog while he is out during the day.  If you want to leave them out all day realize they may bark often, annoy neighbors, get out and  become Injured or become a stolen dog statistic.  In fact it may cost you more to leave them out then hiring a dog walker. 
Despite popular lore, dogs don’t need to be out all day long.  Most would prefer being out/ in with you.  They are social animals and leaving them out alone will conjure up all sorts of naughty behavior. My dogs luckily get to go to work with me.  They sleep until I get up from my desk, then it is a mind energizing event for all of us as we spend 10 minutes getting the woollies out.
Remember, suburbia conjures up all kinds of thoughts about the great outdoors and your dogs opportunity to be free.  If you follow these 4 simple suggestions you will ensure your neighbors are respected while you and Spot explore the this brave new world.

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