Problems With Leash Greetings
They Reinforce Bad Habits
Even if both dogs are friendly and excited to say hi, they’re likely so excited to see one another that they forget their leash manners. This is reinforcing dangerous and inappropriate behavior. The more the owners allow this to happen, the stronger these bad behaviors get and the more often they will start to occur — do you really want your dog to get better at pulling?
Feeling Trapped while on Leash
The restriction of movement that the leash imposes is enough to make a majority of dogs uncomfortable around other dogs. That uncomfortable feeling is translated into what we call “reactivity.” This means barking, jumping, pulling or lunging toward other dogs if they’re on-leash — and some not in a happy and care-free manner.
During leash greetings, dogs (and people) can become entangled in the leashes and tempers can rise with the unexpected restriction of movement. The dogs can get stuck and can’t get away from one another even when they try, this results in panic and bad decision making (and people can get knocked down, too, adding to the chaos).
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Because of the leash restriction and approaching from the front, the other dog could find this direct approach extremely rude. This results in a stiffer body, which in turn signals to the approaching dog possible unfriendliness, and things can devolve from there resulting in a possible unfriendly situation.
Too many dog owners think that their dog should like and want to greet every dog. This is certainly not the case. Dogs don’t actually want to meet other dogs. Think of it this way: do you want to shake hands with every person you come across in the mall? Probably not — and neither do most dogs. And they definitely don’t enjoy other dogs running up into their face!
Tips for owners for On Leash Greetings
- Avoid leash greetings, especially with dogs and owners you do not know.
- Keep your dog at your side.
- Don’t allow your dog to run up to the other dogs face (this is what we called rude and invasive).
- It can cause a unwanted reaction from the other dog which can lead to fights.
- Create space and continue walking.
- Speak up! And be a leader for you and your dog! Don’t feel like you’re forced to stop and chat.
- Say, “sorry, my dog is in training”, or “we’re in a rush maybe next time”.
- Get professional help!