As you get older you realize that you don’t have to like everyone. In fact, I personally only have a handful of really close friends. To me that’s all I need. Some might feel differently, but to each it’s own. Regardless, I think we can all agree that we are not “friends” with everyone we come across. So why should this be any different for your dog?
Certain personalities get along great and others clash. Some dogs are extraverts and some are introverts. We can’t assume that every dog is the same and every dog wants to be your dog’s friend.
The Most Common Scenario: The Lunge and Greet
We’ve all seen it and mostly likely have all experienced it. You’re on a walk with your dog and there’s another dog with it’s owner approaching you. The dog is lunging and eager to meet yours, the owner is being dragged at the end of the leash and they say “ It’s fine, he/she is friendly. They just want to meet.” And then before you know it they are already at you and your dog.
- Why do we assume all dogs NEED to meet: Do we stop and get to know everyone at the grocery store, or at the gym or even our uber driver? This is something you can knip in the butt right away. As puppies, a lot of people think they should explore and greet everyone and everything. Granted, society doesn’t help in the fact that everyone loves puppies and wants to stop and say hi, or sneak in a pet. At KeenDog we are all about your dog’s socialization. However, one of our main goals is for your dog to “check in” with you first; essentially, asking you if they can greet that dog or that person. This is where our release command “keen” comes into play. Instead of your dog taking it upon themselves to decide who they want to greet, it is granted by the handler with that release command.
- Why do we assume the other dog WANTS to meet: This is the core factor of the issue. Just like humans, all dogs have their quirks. Whether it be over excitement about fetch, or timidness around men, or reactivity towards bikes, whatever it may be, they all have something. It’s not that they are a bad dog, they just have a different quirk than yours. You don’t know that dog or how they act in certain situations. Yes, there are plenty of good experiences where they sniff each others butts, wag their tails and then move on, but you can’t be certain of that every time. It’s not fair to assume they want to be your dog’s friends
- Why do we assume the other OWNER wants the dogs to meet: Typically an owner has a pretty good idea of how their dog will react. However, when you’re being dragged by your insistent pup, the other owner doesn’t exactly have much say in it, as your dog is already in their face. Regardless of the dogs, maybe that person doesn’t want to be interrupted. They could be in a rush and not have the time. They could be in the zone and not want to stop. Yes, your dogs might want to stop and say hi but does the owner?
- Ask: It is simply common courtesy. Everyone knows that saying about when you assume, so let’s just avoid that all together and ask. It will save you the uncertainty ofhow the interaction will go and you won’t be “ that guy”. I’ve seen plenty of scenarios where people assume the other dog is friendly, and then they get snapped or growled at. Then the owner is offended cause your dog is “ mean” and “misbehaved” (wait, people get offended in 2017?) In reality you and your dog are the rude ones for not asking and assuming we wanted to be friends. AND please don’t ask while your dog is already in my dogs face. That sort of defeats the purpose.
- Be The Alpha: Take charge. As I mentioned earlier, you want your dog to “check in” with you first. Don’t let our dog make the decisions of your walk. You’ll end up getting dragged toward every dog and person they want to meet and every tree they want to pee on. Does that sound like a nice walk to you?
We can’t all be friends. We’re not meant to get along with everyone and neither are our dogs. While some pups might be friendly towards everyone and everything, others dogs aren’t and that’s okay. We are all different and that’s what makes you and your dog one of a kind. Let’s stop assuming, ask and take charge!
– Brittany Turner, KeenDog Trainer