Training Your Pet To Go Green
When you take your pet into public, think safety—your pet’s and the public. Accidents are not green. Two places where we tend not to do the right thing: one is in cars (or on bicycles) and the other is in the park.
How many people allow their pets to crawl around loose in the car or bicycle basket? Distracted driver accidents can injure or kill people and pets, require an enormous use of resources for repair (chemicals for the car, dollars for the pet, human, and vehicle repair) instead of for something “earthy.” Try a moderation system such as the grid barriers that separate pet from driver, a crate, or pet seat belts.
On the sidewalk and in the park, thinking ahead avoids bent bicycles, tripped runners, and the dog bite a child gets when she runs up to an anxious dog. Establishing safety routines=green brainers. Local ordinances require leashes in most public places. People carry leashes to snap the leash on in case of trouble. Unfortunately, accidents happen quickly. Moreover, unleashed dogs (in dog-think) have a dominant position; their approach to the leashed dog often triggers aggression.
If you want your dog off leash, using an off leash park. Read a helpful book before trying this for the first time. You’ll thank me. Two good ones are: Visiting the Dog Park: Having Fun, Staying Safe, by Cheryl Smith; and Off-Leash Dog Play: A Complete Guide to Safety and Fun, by Robin K. Bennett and Susan Briggs.
Protecting Your Pet in Public
Preventable disease, requiring unnecessary resources, is not green. In any outdoor area where dogs interact, drink from common water supplies, and contact feces from other animals, diseases such as kennel cough, and viruses such as parvo or giardia, are spread. Assume worms, fleas, and ticks are part of everyday life in these settings the way that coughs, colds, and head lice are in elementary schools. Discuss preventive measures with your vet. And, do I need to say it: Never, ever leave your pet tied in front of a store or business. Always take your pet home instead. Accidents and pet-nappings are frequent in these circumstances.
Where Pets Get a Ticket to Ride
Most public transportation in the U.S. does not accept pets. Who wants to sit next to a cat if you’re allergic, or to a growling dog? But, for those of us who keep our pets close, this situation encourages us to cling more tightly to our cars.
Cities in Europe, where cars are inconvenient and expensive, have faced the issue of pets on public transportation. Vienna has established a fare code for dogs. Bring your small dog on board in a closed carrier to avoid buying a “dog” ticket. Leashed, muzzled dogs require a child’s ticket. The best deal: dogs travel free with passengers having an annual transportation pass. That’s green!