Dog walking in Hell’s Kitchen can be a challenge. Though there are certainly a few quiet nooks and crannies, and some blocks are peaceful and downright picturesque, many blocks and avenues are VERY congested during the day. Whether you’re walking one dog alone or a group of dogs, it’s extra important in a neighborhood like Hell’s Kitchen to observe good dog walker etiquette. Here are 5 ‘rules of leash’ I highly recommend you follow:
- Keep to the right. Whenever possible, ALL pedestrians should (and generally do) keep to their right. If we all do this to the extent that it’s possible, we’ll never find ourselves in eminent danger of a head-on collision. Of course, when you’re walking a dog in Hell’s Kitchen (or anywhere), they will need some freedom to sniff, relieve themselves, etc. Make those exceptions as mindfully as possible…which brings me to the next rule.
- Take up as little space as possible. We at Mike’s Walkers keep a short leash for a number of reasons. The primary reason for a dog walker to keep a short leash, professionally speaking, is to better share the busy sidewalks of Hell’s Kitchen. By maintaining a short leash you avoid unwanted confrontations and entanglements. Those people crossing your path are often in a rush or looking at their mobile device. In any case, you can’t necessarily count on them to see you or the dog in your care. This brings me to the next 2 rules.
- Put away the cell phone. Resist the urge to multitask while walking your dog in a busy neighborhood like Hell’s Kitchen. At Mike’s Walkers we observe a strict no-phone-while-walking policy. If you have to check a text or take a quick call, step aside completely and take care of it. Resume your walk when your phone is away and you can completely focus on your furry friend again. It’s safer because you’ll see and avoid danger around you like cyclists on the sidewalk, open basement doors, oncomers looking at their phones, poop on the ground (not a ‘danger’, but not fun to step in), chicken bones your dog would love for you not to notice, and on and on. It’s also nice to unplug!
- Don’t “light rush”. This is a big one. Why be in a hurry when you’re dog walking? Hell’s Kitchen (and all of NYC for that matter) is not only congested by pedestrian traffic, but also by automobiles. I advise you to take your time and walk defensively. This means don’t trot across the intersection when the light is about to change to red. Trust me, that’s the moment your cell phone will bounce out of your pocket, or your pup will spontaneously start pooping right in the middle of the intersection. Doing the trot without having the light in your favor in an effort to ‘beat the traffic’ is even worse. Another form of light rushing is waiting for the walk signal (or just a clearing) while standing way off curb, well into the street. While walking dogs in Hell’s Kitchen, you are not just responsible for your own safety. You are making choices for the dogs you are caring for as well. Be conservative. Not only will you survive unscathed, but your shoulders will drop as will your blood pressure!
- Be aware of your surroundings. Again, Hell’s Kitchen is a busy neighborhood. I tell all my walkers to look all directions as soon as the dog they are caring for begins a BM. Before bending down to pick it up, it’s good to know if a boisterous pup is approaching. This knowledge can be the difference between waiting a second until the pup has passed, or being caught off balance and taking a spill as your dog suddenly lunges to greet the oncoming puppy.
I promise if you follow these rules while dog walking in Hell’s Kitchen, you and everyone you encounter will be happier as a result!