A dogs point of view
Yesterday I was stopped at a red light just around the corner from my house. I have several schools right in the area so the traffic is horrendous at certain times of the day. It was lunch time and I knew the traffic would be heavy before I started out; so there I was sitting at the light patiently awaiting my turn. I watched the crossing guards leaving and as they passed me I heard some serious barking. Being that I was just sitting there anyway I turned around and watched a canine/human interaction. It wasn't a good one and it was all the humans fault.
A doodle of some sort was barking at the women as they approached his van; the women stopped and wanted to say hello. I could see the dogs tail through the window; it was low and wagging, his body posture was relaxed. The dog was friendly but on guard as well; this was his car and the ladies both had on hats and sun glass and were facing him straight on; how rude. They tried talking to him to soothe his barking but their actions only fueled the barking. I felt like yelling "turn sideways" out the window. One of the women put a hand out and he barked even more; the light turned green and I had to move on.
We just don't get it; dogs are not humans, they have a different language than us. In dog language these woman were being very rude in their abrupt approach; and the women were not listening to what the dog had to say. I've been witness to humans doing all the wrong things so many times. Many dogs do not want to say hello; and upon hearing this some people cannot believe it. "Dogs love me," they state as if to say that the dog is mistaken in their not wanting to meet this human behavior somehow. They proceed; pushing their emotions out ahead of what the dog is feeling. The dog displays clear "leave me alone" body language yet the person pushes on. Finally; left with no other recourse the dog growls. "What's wrong with that dog?"
This whole scenario plays out far too often; the dog was speaking loud and clear but the human wasn't listening. Recently I was at a dog event; there were a lot of dogs in cages and as I passed one bunch of cages a small scared dog was growling and snapping at a boy who had push his hand near the cage. The person in charge went of and asked the dog what the problem was. She did the same and the dog did the same; it snapped at her hand. Being that the woman worked with dogs regularly; she should have known. She put her hand near the cage again and got the same reaction; she looked surprised. The dog was visually stressed; he had no where to retreat, he had no other option but to keep the people away with his own behavior, being that he could not move away himself.
I meet dogs on a regular basis; probably far more than the average person and I greet with caution. Just because someone says that their dog is friendly does not mean that I; a strange human can proceed like the owner does. Of course there are dogs that are cool with everyone; they would go home with anyone and climb right into your lap. But most dogs are different when dealing with strangers; it's a fact and their right. Do you want a stranger coming up and giving you a hug? Probably not. And if you are like most people you also have a larger personal space when dealing with strangers vs. loved ones; I sure do.
Most dogs are master communicators; far better than we are. Watching my dogs meet new dogs while on walks is fascinating. Luke is a dominant and confident dog; he displays this very well. Most young or insecure type dogs will greet him with squinting eyes and lowered body posture; the way that they should. If we happen upon another dog like Luke; we skip the greeting and move on.
When I am out with Jessie and I on a rare occasion decide to let her greet someone; most dogs amaze me. Jessie is about as confident as you can get; even nearly blind and deaf she gets her message across loud and clear. Many dogs will stop in their tracks; take a second take and make no further approach. Others will attempt a slow approach; as if approaching a ticking bomb. Jessie gives them one faster than lightening head turn and huge growl and they withdraw. If the dog then approaches with a lowered body and no eye contact; there may be a greeting if her Majesty agrees.
We are our dogs caregivers and as such it is our chosen obligation to protect them. Many times I have flung an arm out to stop an advancing child or even adult. Your dog will tell you how they feel about a greeting; watch carefully. And if they are not into a particular greeting; go with their wishes and pass.
Our problem as humans is that we assume too much and watch too little.