When walking your dog on leash, it is quite common to encounter other dog parents doing the same. So, what do you do when this happens? There are only two possible outcomes for the dog’s greeting and neither is particularly useful or desirable.
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- After the initial investigative sniffing and greeting ritual the dogs play.
- After the initial investigative sniffing and greeting ritual, the dogs fight.
Neither is really better than the other. If the dogs sniff and then play, your dog has gotten a jackpot reward for going up to a strange dog and introducing himself. The next time he sees a strange dog, he’ll want to pull you towards that dog to greet it.
Now each time your dog will strain harder and harder to get to the other dog, hoping to stop and play. This can lead to a harder and harder time managing your dog on walks, since he now gets so distracted around other dogs. And if your dog mostly plays when he greets other dogs, but suddenly meets a dog that tries to fight him, your dog will quickly learn not to trust oncoming dogs. This can lead to a dog that preemptively lashes out at other, on-coming dogs. What was once a perfectly friendly dog, has now turned into a snarling, lunging monster.
On the other hand, If the dogs sniff and then squabble, or actually fight, then your dog could either start to fear other dogs when he sees them on the street, or worse, he will begin to pull towards them, wanting to pick a fight. Whether fighting or playing, on-leash encounters usually produce a dog that pulls and strains and often lunges to get to the other dog. The motivation may be different (I want to play, I want to fight) But the symptom is the same- your dog becomes more and more of a nightmare to walk in public.
So what’s the solution?
The best solution to these growing problems is to avoid the possibilities all together, by teaching your dog to ignore other dogs completely when walking on leash, unless specifically stopped on command, told to sit and wait for permission to approach and greet. Otherwise your dog should learn that when he’s on leash, he should walk past and ignore other dogs. There is no need for your leashed dog to learn how to greet other dogs, in order to be a good canine citizen.
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