We’ve all experienced it, that overly excited, happy, bouncing dog charging toward your dog. For some owners this is a mild distraction, for others this is the most stressful situation they can imagine. Whether you’re on a popular walking trail, walking around your neighborhood or downtown, you’re dog’s etiquette and manners need to be kept in check.
Even the most mild mannered and dog friendly dogs can have an off day and not necessarily appreciate another dog charging up it’s butt for a sniff. Or worse, the perky puppy going in for a friendly greeting might end up in a dog fight or coming away with nasty bite from a dog that was not open to an uninvited introduction.
If you’re a new dog owner and not sure about dog etiquette, here are a few basic tips.
Walk your dog on a 6 ft leash or shorter, especially when walking on narrow, confined pathways. Lot’s of new owners that don’t have reliable obedience select “flexi” leashes (retractable leashes) to be able to give their dog “freedom” on leash. If you don’t trust your dog off leash, chances are you can’t control them when they are 15-20 feet away from you at the end of the flexi leash. Walking your dog on leash should be a structured activity, not a free for all.
When passing an oncoming dog, if you’re dog is jumping in excitement consider either pulling off to the side to allow the other dog to pass or move your dog to the outside and keep them close to your side. Be mindful of the other dog’s body language as well as the owners reaction. If both dog and owner look tense, keep walking. If they both look friendly and relaxed, ask if your dogs can meet before letting your dog run to meet them both. Remember, even dog friendly dogs might not appreciate another dog jumping on “their” owner and could react in an aggressive manner.
If your dog is too distracted by other dogs and completely ignores you, start off by working on some engagement techniques before taking your dog to a popular dog spot. You should be the most important thing in your dog’s world, more than another dog, cat, squirrel or person. If you only try to restrain your dog in high distraction scenarios, you’re actually escalating the problem and building frustration in your dog, which may lead to leash aggression down the road. You may have brought a dog into your life as a walking/running partner, but your new dog may not know this. Show them what you expect of them from the start and help guide them into appropriate behaviors instead of just expecting that they will figure it out on their own.
Whether this is your first dog, or just the first dog you’ve ever needed to train, talk to a professional dog trainer. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to dominate your dog or use heavy punishment to train them. Dog Training methods have changed quite a bit over the years as well as the training tools. Find a trainer that you are comfortable working with and a method that you can be consistent with.
What to do when an overly enthusiastic dog is headed your way and your not sure how your dog will react?
Speak up! Whether your dog is dog aggressive, or you’re just not sure how your ordinarily “dog friendly” dog will react to this dog, tell the other dog’s owner that your dog gets agitated when other dogs get in his/her space. If you have a patient and friendly dog and have the time, help the other owner out by working on a meet and greet drill to help desensitize their dog. Remember to keep the leashes loose, tension on the leash can cause anxiety. Also keep enough space between you an the other dog/owner, that way your dog can easily get away without getting caught up or feeling trapped. Take a minute or two to have the dogs sit or down, then sniff again. If the other dog’s owner isn’t sure how to correct the situation, tell them about your experience with obedience training and how it helped your dog…be sure to give them your favorite trainer’s contact info!
If you have a dog that is not dog friendly, put your dog to the outside and continue walking past. If the environment allows you may choose to pull off to the side and have your dog sit. Be prepared as some new owners don’t always understand that this is not an invitation to introduce the two dogs, just explain that your dog is in training and needs some space. If the other owner is using a flexi leash and hasn’t reeled their dog back in and you’re concerned that your dog may have a nasty reaction to the other dog, simply walk the other way until you can steer clear…even though the other person is in the wrong, it’s better to walk away than have to argue over vet bills later on.
If you need help socializing your dog or gaining better control of your dog’s obedience, call SoCal K9 and schedule a free in-home evaluation!