Dogs are social, just as social as people… well, most people are social and some are not. Even the most social people, have days which they just don’t feel like socializing at all, and may come across as unfriendly or even aggressive. But the reality of it is that they are just having a bad day!
Believe or not, dogs are exactly the same. Just like us, they can have bad days and good days, and just like people they can get grumpy when they are tired or hungry.
It is important to always pay attention to your dog’s body language and mood. Especially when you are taking him out to the dog park or for an on-leash walk. Listen to your intuition, and if it is telling you that today it might be best not to let your dog greet other dogs, then please pay attention to it!
Have you ever been on a nice and peaceful walk with your dog, and all of a sudden you see a person and his dog approaching, and you think to yourself, is that dog walking his owner or is the owner walking his dog? And you think the dog’s owner doesn’t really look like he is having a good time and seems a little stressed? Then the dog runs over to your dog while dragging his owner along. Before you know, the dog is wrestling with yours and there are loud barks and teeth flashing, and the dog’s owner is yelling as loud as he can while pulling on the leash?
My recommendation is if you are not sure of the approaching person and their dog, then it is best to distract your dog and avoid the greeting altogether. You can turn around, or get your dog to sit, look at you and then give him a treat, and tell the approaching person that your dog is in training.
Each greeting is different because each dog/owner that you meet is different. If you aren’t feeling good about meeting them, then the chances are your dog has already picked up on your energy and he may have already tensed up.
The more positive experiences your dog has with other dogs, the more likely he is to stay friendly and well behaved towards them.
I offer one-on-one coaching to help dog owners with their leash reactive dogs, and the ones who like to teach their dogs polite leash walking, and keeping their dogs out of trouble on walks and off-leash areas.