I wrote the following in response to a facebook discussion about how dogs should greet one another in the park, but was told by a good friend that I’d written: “Too much hahaha.” I don’t disagree.
So thought it would be a good thing to put it in a blog post instead.
My rule is my dogs never go up to another dog if I don’t have pretty good evidence their interaction is going to be safe and happy.
Why? Because I’m not sure what that other dog is like, I’m not sure what the other owner wants, I want to have good manners when I’m out and about, I want not to be in that horrible state of mind where I’m absolutely terrified about how an interaction is going to go. Is the dog going to bite my dog? Are we talking fights with other owner? Visits to the vet? Worse…
Who Loves Ya?
I think people love their dogs and sometimes this love rose-tints their vision.
So I really do get it why people say things like: “He only wants to play.” “He’s friendly.” As their dog bools up to another dog in the park.
And sadly, the next words are freqently: “He’s never done that before.” “He usually only bites black dogs.” “Why did your dog bite my Fido, he’s so friendly!” Etc.
Not everybody out there wants to be bothered by our dogs. Everybody doesn’t have to love my dogs.
And if I don’t think the training is going to be enough, dog on lead: flexi/plain/long-line whatever. I can’t sort out problems quickly if my dog is loose and another dog I’m not sure about comes over. I really don’t want my dog to fly off in a panic, turn on that other dog’s predatory chase instinct, disappear over the brow of the hill. Oh horror!
The late, great Roy Hunter said: “A dog who’s out of sight is out of control.” So I work to keep my dogs ahead of me on walks. If they stop to sniff, I stop too, keep an eye.
There were no mobile phones during Roy’s lifetime, but I’m sure he would have had a thing or two to say about texting on a dog walk! Thinking about it, I think driving a car is a nice analogy. If it’s not something you should do when you’re driving, you probably shouldn’t be doing it when you’re dog walking. Phoning, taking your eyes of the road (dog), falling asleep.
I think I’d nominate at least one of the humans to keep eyes-on the dogs if I knew we’d want to stop and chat and thus take eyes-off the dogs. “Would you keep an eye on Fido for me for a minute? I’m desperate to tell Elsie what Dora did last night.”
And how about adding human-delivered fun and control for the dogs? At least part of the walk dedicated to toy-play/work/training. Some sits/recalls/searches, whatever. Well rewarded, fun stuff. Dogs who are concentrating on their humans, having fun with their humans, are less likely to go self-employed and search for stimulation with other dogs in the park who may or may not be happy about that.
Brevity is the Soul of Wit
I think dogs should greet other dogs in the park when:
a) Both owners have given express permission for the interaction. “Can they say “Hi!” now?”
b) My dog has been given permission for the interaction. “Okay, go play.”
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