What to do when meeting another dog and their owner on the street

Brown dog on leash

The scene is all too common. Two people, often strangers, are walking their respective dogs on leash.  One human and her dog walks towards the other person and their dog on a sidewalk often with each dog leading each human (that’s another story for another time).  One owner will often say to their dog,  (in a high-pitched voice, as if the dog was a 4 year-old human in desperate need of human friends) “Do you want to say hi?”

The ritual typically unfolds as follows…..

The scene from left to right: The first human, their dog on the end of the leash face-to-face with the other dog at the end of their leash, and then the other human.  The order looks like this: human, leash, dog, dog, leash, human. Usually, tails are wagging, leashes are straining and taught, now the “butt sniff circle”,  leashes get tangled, now humans start with the “oh…sorry…let me just…there…OK…ah…they seem to be….OK….there…untangled.”

Now that greetings and untanglings are done, maybe they dogs bounce and want to play with each other – which is great – but maybe not.  It’s the “maybe not” part is the potential danger.  There is little (as in zero) upside to meeting a strange dog on leash.  The downside could be a negative outcome for one or both dogs and owners.  Why put your dog in such a position?  Why risk possibly meeting a stranger who possibly thinks: I don’t care about the stupid the muzzle order put on my dog due to several bite and fight incidents.  I’m taking him out for a walk muzzle free. Why risk meeting a dog that has no training or manners, or impulse control or who is spontaneously aggressive? We do not control who walks what dog(s) when or where.  We do not know how they train, educate and manage their dog.

If a blow up happens it usually happens within 4 seconds.  But why chance causing your dog potential stress and or injury? When you see another dog leading another human on a walk, just keep walking.  Yes, you might be perceived as rude.  If you are caught, ease any possible tension by saying you are late for an appointment or you really need to get your dog home for dinner or ANYTHING – just try not to stop and chat.  Your dog will thank you.