Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's okay, my dog is friendly

I sometime wonder how many other people are effected by the 'it's OK, my dog is friendly' sydrome?

In my case it usually goes something like this....I'm walking along with either Jake or Abbey at my side. From time to time they check in with me, sometime I have to ask for the 'look' but life is good. Distractions can occur but both Jake and Abbey are now at the stage where they'll glance for a second or two and then look back at me. And then it happens!

So we're walking along, and then up ahead we see another dog walker, but rather than having their dog by their side and under control, their dog is at the end of the leash, be it a six foot leash or a retractable. At this point I'm usually making a conscious decision to either hide behind a parked car, dive into an alley way or if possible cross the street. Now, back to the other dog walker, who if they're paying attention must surely see that I'm trying to get out of the way, does what?

You've guessed it, absolutely nothing!

Rather than shorten their leash and take control of the situation. They just leave their dog at the end of the leash. As the distance shortens, their dog will start to hard stare before starting to bark in excitement.

These days Jake and Abbey are doing much better at ignoring these dogs. They still have days where they're react  to the other dog. When this happens, I do my best to get Jake or Abbey under control and away from this situation, using a high value treat (dried Liver or fish oil capsules) makes this easier as both dogs are highly motivated by food. The most frustrating part of the encounter is when the other owner comments 'it's OK, my dog is friendly and just wants to meet yours' or due to walking a pit bull we get a dirty glance as if to say 'oh, it's a pit bull'.

Now, neither Nigel or myself are trainers and so we're not trying to give out any advice or training guidelines, this piece is more about a pet peeve of ours. Both our dogs are very social and love to meet other dogs. However, through experience gained by volunteering at he Humane Society of Silicon Valley and through attending the weekly Our Pack training, we've learned that not all dogs get along. We therefore like to control which dogs Abbey and Jake socialize with. Our primary reason for this is to ensure that every experience encountered by Jake and Abbey is a positive one.

For great advice on how to manage a dog to dog greeting take a look at the Pleased to Meet You written by Marthina McClay for Bay Woof, a Bay Area information source for dog owners,

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