Ways To Be A Good Neighbor On The Prairie Path
The Illinois Prairie Path offers a fantastic way for you and your pup to exercise while being amidst beautiful scenery. Because of its popularity, you’re likely to see all sorts of cyclists, runners, people pushing strollers, and of course, other nature enthusiasts out walking their dogs. Since we all have to share this wonderful space, here are some tips on politeness on the Prairie Path.
Short Leash: The “Trail Etiquette” section of the Illinois Prairie Path (IPP) website states that all dogs must be leashed, which is always a good idea when out on a walk with your dog. Building on that, it may be helpful, and safer, to keep that leash pretty short. There are plenty of runners and joggers on the Path, as well as cyclists, and you don’t want your dog darting out on a collision course with anyone. Keeping your dog close to you keeps her out of harm’s way, and may make her feel safer too. It’s also a courtesy to the other denizens of the Prairie Path.
Beware of (Other) Dogs: Just like the Pet Care Specialists at Floofins & Co. don’t do meet-and-greets with other dogs on walks, you should avoid letting your pooch run up to strange pets to say hello. Your dog might want to be friends with all the other dogs in the world–which is great–but it’s the dog version of Stranger Danger; if you don’t know the other dog, it’s best to keep some distance to avoid any unpleasantness. This is true for people as well. Unless they’re friends of yours it’s best to wave a quick “hello” and move on.
Don’t Crowd: Do you and your friends hit the Path together with your dogs? Fantastic! Mutual walking among friends (and dog friends) is a wonderful way to get out together to enjoy nature and socialize. Just make sure your group leaves some space on the Path for other folks! Make sure you leave enough room for others moving in either direction to pass you if they need to. The Prairie Path is a nice size, but it does narrow in places.
On Your Left! Cyclists are supposed to call out if they’re passing, which is helpful, but watch out for bikes—whether it’s someone out for a leisurely bike-ride or a hard-core athlete going as fast as they possibly can without leaving orbit, the last thing you want is a dog-bike collision.
Pick Up After your Pet: The IPP website also states that walkers need to pick up after their pets. This is just the right thing to do—no one wants to be dodging poop while out for their morning stroll. There are trash bins along the Path so you’ll have a convenient place to toss that bag.
Other Neighbors: You may be surprised to find out that horseback riding is allowed on the Prairie Path as well, although seeing a horse trotting along the Path around here is relatively rare. While spotting a horseback riding while out walking your dog would be undeniably cool, that horse may spook your pup, especially if they’ve never seen one before. If you see a rider on horseback out on the Prairie Path and you don’t know how your dog will react, it may be best to just pull over for a moment to let the horse pass before continuing your walk.
Coyotes: These guys make occasional appearances along the Path, so please be vigilant, especially if you’ve got a smaller dog, and keep your pup close to you. Coyotes are more likely to be seen around dawn and dusk, although the ones in this area can be pretty bold, so don’t be surprised if you spot one during the day. Also, coyotes are prone to be more aggressive during their mating season, from January to March. If you see a coyote and need to get off the Path, folks recommend walking away at a diagonal so you’re perceived as less of a threat or prey. Carry your dog if you can.
The Illinois Prairie Path is a beautiful public space meant to be enjoyed and we’re lucky to have it. If you use the Path for running, walking solo or with your pup, or if you cycle, just keep the well-being and safety of others in mind. It’ll lead to a richer experience for everyone.