What is your leash saying?
Today I took the girls out for their snail paced walk, we had a great walk. Tilley ran after her ball and Jessie sniffed, that's what she does. After our walk we headed home so that I could get Luke and head out for our faster walk. We went somewhere different today, I was needing some quiet time so I took us to the quiet path. As I pulled up I could see a lady with her very tiny chihuahua, he was watching my car. No doubt he wanted to see who was going to be getting out of the car. Luke hopped out and immediately marked the place as his.
We started our walk and the little guy ahead of us waited. He really wanted to see Luke, his owner was trying to get him to walk. He was having nothing to do with it and headed towards us. His tail was up, he was looking at Luke sideways so I was ready for a yank. This dog was probably all of 5 lbs and Luke
tends to be a clod at times. Seeing that the little guy seemed quite confident I let the leash loose but was still ready to yank Luke out of the tiny situation if I had to. If I keep the leash tight, Luke becomes leash aggressive. Not always in a big way but it amps him up. So with the leash loose and me ready to pull him out they had a wonderful hello. Both were wagging, both were quite dominant but no one was pushing the macho thing.
When I think that we should exit I call to Luke and have him follow my verbal cue. If I pull on his leash he will again become agitated and is likely to get into it on the way out. Often when we have sort of an iffy meeting, pulling on the leash is all that it takes to take it from just okay to bad. When you tighten up on your leash it immediately sends a message "something is up." Being that Luke is a reactive dog, every one of his behaviors is bigger than normal. Although this can be a challenge to deal with it also gives me a big insight into dog behavior. Things that Luke displays are all normal, just much more difficult to read in a non reactive dog.
If you do need to shorten up on your leash, move up closer to your dog so that they don't feel the shortening process. For Luke it is a cue immediately, so I've learned to be very stealth about the process of leash reining in. Along with reining in you must create a positive association to greeting other dogs. If you get all uptight, reining in and/or yanking the leash it sends a huge negative sign to your dog. So just chill, loosen up but always be ready.