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Training dog owners in finer points of canine courtesy

The Baltimore Sun

Dogs never worry about what fork to use.

Still, a Miss Manners approach to canine comportment is probably long overdue. Stepping in to advise on everything from wooing co-op boards to figuring out who pays for dog-park injuries is Charlotte Reed, whose new book, The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette (missfidomanners.com), makes its debut in July.

Reed, an inveterate Junior Leaguer, heads a family that includes four dogs (a geriatric golden and a cocker, and two youthful English toy spaniels), three cats, a parrot and a cage full of finches. She left a law career to start Two Dogs and a Goat, which provides in-home pet care in Manhattan, and soon found herself awash in questions from clients.

"More and more, I found myself giving etiquette advice."

Now codified in a lifestyle guide with a soothing blue cover, her prescriptions for getting along in an increasingly dog-cluttered world are, she says, simply "common sense, dog training and basic etiquette, all wrapped into one."

Consider, for example, "Curb your dog." Letting your pooch heed the call of nature wherever it strikes is just plain wrong, Reed says."When your dog is eliminating in the middle of the sidewalk, it hinders the flow of traffic. As you're trying to clean it up, the dog is pulling, and people are stepping around you." Common sense also would require you to have a plastic bag or other suitable poop receptacle.

Standard advice for flying your dog in a plane cabin includes calling ahead to ensure there is room on the flight, checking that your dog does not exceed the size and weight limits, and buying a Sherpa bag for him to travel in.

Ross' general approach is that human harmony should not take a back seat to your animal obsession.

Even the most well-behaved dog is not welcome in some circles - which is why you should not assume that an invite for a Hamptons getaway includes Rex. And if you do get the green light, be honest about your requirements. "If your dog goes on wee-wee pads, tell them you might need a bathroom with tile," Reed says. "And if your dog's destructive, leave him at home."

Denise Flaim writes for Newsday.

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