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Greeting dogs on the lead

10/01/2024 - Dog Training

How to greet other dogs on the lead

Well you just go up to the other dog and say “hello” don't you?

NONo you don’t!

We all want our dogs to be friendly towards other living things in their world, but you must always things about the other party involved in the greeting.

If you think about it, there is you and your dog, another owner and their dog.  That is four beings involved in a potential greeting…firstly…do all four of those beings CONSENT to the greeting?  What are the chances of all four wanting that greeting?  Not 100% of the time that is for sure as it’s not statistically possible.  Therefore, you need to decided for your and your dog, then you need to find out from the other parties if they want to participate in the greeting.  Does the other owner allow it but their dog not, watch their dog yourself, maybe the owner doesn’t recognise that their dog doesn’t want to say hello.  You need to watch this as you don’t want to have a bad experience for your dog by assuming that the owner knows how their dog is feeling.  Maybe the owner doesn’t want to engage but the dog does.  If even one of the four involved doesn’t want the greeting then it shouldn’t take place.

However, for this purpose, lets say that all four of you are happy and want to greet each other.  How should you do this?

Firstly, unlike humans your dogs may not want to greet face to face, side to side may be more appropriate so they can get to each other’s butts and have a good sniff of what they like to shake…thank goodness we don’t greet in this way that is all I can say!

The initial greeting should be VERY short….three seconds is more than enough to begin with.  Say quietly in your head…”Hello…Sniff…Goodbye!”  It will only take a matter of seconds for a dog to decide they no longer want to say hello and you could have a tangled lead and argument going on by a busy road before you know it!  So, give it thought before you greet!

Also give a thought to if you allow your dog to approach and greet EVERY dog…this sets a precedent for your dog that this is acceptable, and it really isn’t.  You want to be able to walk past dogs when you need to, if you allow your dog to meet every dog then getting past them when needed will become very difficult as your dog will want to engage with them and not you.  If you don’t tread carefully with such greetings and on lead protocols then you can end up with your dog becoming what we call a frustrated greeter which is where your dog can become too aroused when seeing other dogs and then the worst case scenario after this is that your frustrated greeter can cross the line from frustration to aggression. 

Therefore, you MUST give thought to the bigger picture when allowing your dog to meet others on lead.

  • All four parties must consent to the greeting
  • Meet side on, not face to face.
  • Keep the greeting short and sweet – Hello, sniff & goodbye – it only takes a second for one of the party to decide they don’t want to be part of the interaction anymore.
  • Move around with your dogs to avoid leads becoming tangled
  • NEVER greet a dog on an extendable lead
  • Teach your dog the “lets go” cue so they can move on quickly after the greeting so you do not inadvertently jerk their collar to get them moving on.