Good Dog Walking Etiquette
Some people are lucky to have dogs that happily trot along by their side off-lead, totter over to say hello to other dogs and come back when called… most of the time.
Others may have dogs that see another dog and think 'OMG another dog; I must go over immediately and make friends!!' These dogs are usually kept on lead for their own safety as they probably wouldn’t see cars approaching. Also their over exuberant nature is often not appreciated by all, especially if they are on the large size and often their excitement can be misinterpreted as aggression.
Then there’s the third group, those dogs that are worried or scared by other dogs and become reactive and may lunge and bark to try and scare the approaching dog away.
For people that have dogs in the second and third groups out walking their dogs and desperately trying to train them to ignore other dogs, the worst possible scenario is the unexpected approach of an off-lead dog. Despite the dog’s best intentions, his/her approach could possibly undo weeks and sometimes months of training for the other dog and land his owner and his progress back at step one.
The majority of dog walkers with dogs that can become overly excited on walks usually attempt to change or divert the reacting behaviour by distracting their dog with food or toys. They may even teach them a command when they see a dog approaching in the distance and gradually build this up to the stage where their dog can pass another dog on lead without reacting.
However, the sight of an off lead dog running past or approaching can simply be too much for sensitive dogs and can result in them reacting either by lunging to get closer to the other dog to play or even to scare them away as they may see them as an approaching threat.
So, if you are lucky enough to have a perfectly behaved pooch please spare a thought for those struggling to train and socialise their dogs and consider popping them back on their lead quickly when you see another on-lead dog approaching. Its good doggy etiquette and can save an awful lot of unnecessary stress for both dogs and their owners!