When you are out walking your dog…
Question 1: When you are out walking with your dog and you see another person and their dog straight ahead of you, on the same path, what do you do?
A. I keep walking straight ahead on the same path towards them. My dog is friendly. If my dog wants to meet their dog, I let him. If not, we overtake on the same path.
B. I stop some distance away and call out “Is your dog friendly?” If they say yes, I ask if my dog can say hi or we will simply overtake, giving enough space between dogs. If they say no, my dog and I move off the path.
C. My dog and I keep walking in that direction, but in a curve, so that the dogs have more space away from each other. Or I cross to the other side of the street to give them space. I don’t assume that all dogs are friendly and want to socialize.
Question 2: When you are out walking alone (no dog with you) and you see another person and their dog straight ahead of you on the same path, what do you do?
A. I keep walking straight ahead on the same path towards them to overtake them.
B. If I want to say hi to their dog, I stop some distance away and call out “Is your dog friendly?” If they say yes, I move closer to say hi. If they say no, I move off the path, or walk in a curve around them, to give space.
C. If we are not going to greet each other, I move to one side of the path to give more space to the dog and person. I don’t make eye contact or bother the dog.
Question 3. When you are out walking (with or without your dog) and you see another person and their dog straight ahead of you on the same path. Their dog is staring intensely at you or at your dog, or lunging, or barking. Or the owner tells you that their dog is not friendly. What do you do?
A. I keep walking straight ahead on the same path towards them to overtake them. Their dog is their problem. My dog is well-behaved and friendly.
B. I move us off the path to give space to them to pass. My dog is well-trained. I ask my dog to stay with me so he doesn’t approach their dog.
C. I lead us across the street immediately to give them lots of space. I know their dog is upset or scared.
Question 4. When you are out walking with your reactive dog and you seen a person or dog straight ahead on the same path. You KNOW that your dog is going to bark or freak out. What do you do?
A. We keep walking straight ahead to overtake this other person or dog. When my dog barks, I punish him by tightening the leash or I scold him:”No! Stop it! Bad dog!” or “Sit! Sit!” Dammit. He does this every time.
B. I stop some distance away as soon as my dog sees the trigger. I see how my dog is feeling. I give treats immediately to condition him to associate “scary things” with good things. If the person is too close or walking towards us in our direction, call my dog, lead him off the path immediately so he feels safe. I know my dog is sensitive so it is top priority I make him feel safe so that he can learn to cope without barking.
C. I lead my dog across the street immediately. I give him enough space away from the trigger, to be certain that he feels safe, and so that the other dog and person are also not bothered.
Based on my personal experience,
Answer A is what MOST PEOPLE DO.
99% of the dog owners I see on the street do not give a toss about other people and their dogs. Most people assume that all dogs are like their own dog. They will keep walking straight ahead directly towards Boogie and me (Boogie might be sniffing the ground or doing a pee, not having even seen them), with the intention to overtake us on the same path, and it doesn’t at all cross their minds that my dog might not want to be NEAR another dog. Even when Boogie has seen them and is staring… they continue walking towards us anyway. Don’t get me started on the people who make intense eye contact with a dog that is barking at them and refuse to back off.
Most people do not realize that a dog that is staring or growling is doing so because he feels threatened and wants space. Most people think that when a dog barks it’s because he is being an asshole and should be stopped.
The frustrating reality is that most people do not give a shit about other people’s dogs on the street and what they might be feeling.
Answer B sometimes happens. These people are the 0.09% of considerate souls I meet on the street who have some awareness that not all dogs are alike; and that not all dogs want to meet you or your dog.
Answer C People – Right now in my life, you are the 0.01% of dog people I see on the street. THANK YOU! xox