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This is a question that raises lots of controversy – dog trainers tend to be more definite with their answers stating that dogs on a leash should not be allowed to meet others in close proximity, whereas individual dog owners, in recent studies, either preferred the idea of their dogs being allowed to say hello to other pets while on the lead, or made a neutral choice.
Are there risks to dogs meeting on the leash?
One of the main reasons that trainers and some dog owners are wary of them meeting, is the fear of the unknown. Take a small puppy on its first outing to the park; it will gallop up to another dog to introduce himself yet the adult dog on the leash may become alarmed, grab the puppy and give it a shaking, not letting go. The puppy will scream and both owners will be horrified at the outcome of events.
If you’re unsure of the other dog on the lead, it’s wise to keep your dog well away. You have no way of knowing if their dog is friendly towards other dogs, and if you approach them too quickly, they may not have a chance to explain to you to keep your distance. In certain situations, a normally placid and friendly dog may take offence at another dog, and let them know, in no uncertain terms, and become angry and irritated.
Avoid clumsy, on-lead greetings
Have you ever noticed how two dogs usually greet each other? Approaching from the side, head slightly down, then a sniff of the other dog’s rear. If you have your dog on the lead, and he tried to greet another dog in this way, expect for the leads to become tangled and dogs to become frustrated and annoyed.
If your dog is on the leash, he’s unable to approach the other dog in this natural way, from the side, and has to face the dog face on, bringing about an unhappy confrontation, with the possibility of a disagreement.
Your dog feels trapped
Most dogs, while off the leash, have quite happy temperaments but put them on the lead, restrain them and the uncomfortable feeling will make your dog reactive to situations. He may pull towards other dogs and bark if he feels trapped. A doggy greeting, when both are on leads, can quickly escalate and increase the tension between the dogs. This can quickly evolve into increased stress levels, with the dogs barking and pouncing, leading into a possible dog fight.
Meeting other dogs on leads at the park
If you do bump into an owner walking his dog on the lead, remember that he’s doing this for a reason. He could be trying to control his dog to prevent it from attacking or leaping at another dog or person, or perhaps to avoid it from interacting with something, or someone. Don’t approach by shouting that it’s OK, your dog is friendly– theirs may not be! Quite often, a meeting like this ends with neither dog enjoying the experience, and both owners apologising for their dog’s behaviour.
Usually, it’s best to follow your intuition and gut instinct. If you feel uneasy or unsure, give the other person and their dog a wide berth, and make a small detour, as you carry on your way.
Our advice – if you don’t really know the owner and the dog, keep walking by, don’t risk a dog-to-dog meeting.
This is a guest blog by one of our many animal community friends. It has not been written by The Finchley Vet staff. We love to showcase other people's work as we think it makes things more interesting for you, our readers, however, it does mean that we have not checked any of the facts and any opinions are those of the author and not of the Finchley Vet, or Local Vet Ltd.