Reading the signs
The other day I was at the park with just Luke. He enjoys his time alone with Mom as do I; we were sauntering around the park smelling the roses when across the park I spotted a woman coming my way. She had with her a very large Akita. As you know I love all dogs but I also know that some Akitas are fairly dog aggressive; so as she continued my way I was trying to make it clear that I was heading away. Funny how some humans can be so lacking in sign reading. I was very obviously moving away from her and her dog but she kept coming. I finally had to make direct eye contact with her and then turn away in the opposite direction walking abruptly. She got it.
Then I watched the woman and her dog turn and walk towards another person with dogs. The guy was walking two pit mixes who were either over excited or not so dog friendly themselves. As the woman got closer she yelled out to the guy asking if his dogs were friendly. When someone pauses and then says "sometimes, er usually," that means no. I could see it all unfolding before my eyes; it was going to get crazy in just a few more steps from the woman with the Akita.
I turned away just for a moment and then I heard it; lots of growling and challenging. The man held onto his dogs tightly as they hit the end of their leash and the woman tried to calm her Akita. This was clearly going to be the outcome of the interaction; the man knew it, he just hadn't wanted to voice it in public. The woman also knew but was trying hard for this not to be how her dog reacts. The woman could not read the signals of the other dogs; this is something that everyone with dogs should become knowledgeable about.
When I approach a person with a dog; I often veer off of the path and simply move out of the way. I know Luke very well and know who he will and will not get along with. It has much to do with the other dogs body language and even though some dogs are very friendly, they can give off the wrong body language because of circumstance. Leash, proximity to owner and tension etc all play a part in the greeting of strange dogs. If I ever think that perhaps this greeting is not going to turn out well; I will err on the side of safety and forego the greeting.
As I always say; "quit while you are ahead."