Greetings: Meeting the Friendly Leashed Dog

If your clients walk their dogs regularly, as a professional dog trainer you can anticipate hearing from them – “what do I do when I encounter other friendly, leashed dogs?” Clients dog walk for a number of reasons: exercise for themselves or their dogs, socializing – again for themselves or their dogs, and mental stimulation, among others. For your social butterfly clients, you’ll find that they will have a strong desire to allow their dogs to interact with dogs they encounter on walks. Here are a few positive dog training tips for successful leashed dog interactions.

1. Control.

Before on-leash introductions take place, there should be slack in the leashes of both dogs. This means that each dog displays a level of control and training that allows them to walk on a loose leash when faced with distractions, especially the distraction of other dogs. Convey to your client the importance of approaching with slack in the leash. Many clients understand that the leash should be loose while the dogs greet. Demonstrating self-control in the face of distraction, keeping arousal levels low, and maintaining good (fluid and relaxed) body language on the approach can set the scene for a much better interaction. 

2. Dog-friendly.

Both dogs should be friendly with strange dog. What if the dog is unknown to your client? Then certainly they can ask if that dog is friendly to other dogs. First, it is important to ask before the dogs begin to approach one another. Second, it is not uncommon that owners misrepresent or simply don’t fully understand how strange-dog friendly their own dog is. So, explain that there is some risk inherent to any interaction with a strange dog. That risk is multiplied when the owner is unable to read body language indicating increasing arousal levels, or even aggression.

3. Keep it fluid and brief.

Keep slack in the leash, and be sure to keep the leases untangled. That can involve a bit of a dance on the part of the owners. Also, interactions should be brief and at any sign of escalation, concluded. Escalation can include feet bouncing off the ground in excitement, hackles rising as arousal increases, or a stiffening of posture indicating increased stress or aggression.

Read more tips for creating successful greetings in our Greetings series: “Greetings Meeting the Friendly Stranger,” Greetings: Mom, You’re Home!8 Tips For Introducing New Dogs To Your Household” and “Greetings: Choosing Not To Meet Leashed Dogs.”

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