Do not approach

Don't approach unless you are invited.  I've written about this many times but it is one of those things that keeps popping up again and again and again.  People who approach you even when you are trying to move away.  There a great deal of people out there who have no idea how their dog is with other dogs; let alone doing an on leash greeting.  But they are very determined to have their dog say hi.  It is one of those things that leaves me shaking my head about humans in general.  About a week ago, my husband was out with Luke.  At nearing 14 years of age and very unsure on his feet we are very protective.  He doesn't need socializing; he was out for the outing itself.  A woman approached with her unruly Labrador; my husband stepped off of the path, moving Luke away.  A clear sign to anyone that a greeting is not desired.  Nope.  She continued on her approach until my husband had to shout at her, several times.  Even then she said "he will not be happy until he says hello."  Really?

This happens all of the time and it makes me crazy.  It is one thing if both people agree on a greeting; note the word "agree?" 

Agree - to give consent. 

Unless you get a very clear agreement after ASKING, then move along.  When a person is giving CLEAR signs that they do not want an interaction, DON'T PUSH IT.   People will come up to you saying "yes, she is very friendly," and then you hear "be  nice now," which is a CLEAR sign that their dog is not always friendly. 

Some other tell tale phrases to listen for when you ask, "are they friendly?":

- usually.

- with most dogs.

- sometimes.

- if she's in the mood.

- not always.

You must ask first; but even then you must also check for yourself.  Watch the body language of the dog who wants to say "hi."  Often you can clearly see that a dog is not a good match for your dog to say hi to.  Many people will tell you that their dog is friendly but they are clearly not.  Not all dogs want to say hi to other dogs, that is fine.  Why force our dogs to say hi and interact?  We don't, we go for a walk and say a cordial "morning" to other people as we keep on going. 

Read other human body language, honestly.  If someone steps off of a path or moves away at your approach, THAT IS A CLEAR SIGN.  Keep moving, they don't want to interact.  When I step off the path with my dog and get some good distance and the other person approaching steps off and keeps approaching, it is mind boggling.  Humans make the rules; at least they should make the rules.  Just because a big unruly dog wants to say hi to my dog; does not mean that it should be allowed.  If I say  no, then it is no; keep moving lady. 

The other day while waiting at the Vets. for Luke's test; a woman walked in with a very nice Boxer.  The Boxer was friendly but the Bassett Hound that they were approaching was not.  The Bassett was very nervous as is typical at the vets.  The woman with the Boxer allowed it to go directly up and stick it's head in the Bassett's face.   It didn't go over well and the Bassett lunged out and snapped.  Who's fault?  The lady with the Boxer.  The Bassett then received a scolding and got yanked around on a choke collar; even after having given clear signs of not wanting an interaction. 

After that interaction came another.  A woman walked into the room with her dog on an extension leash (don't even get me started).  It was wandering around at the end of the leash with intent on seeing all of the dogs.  The dogs were anxious, WE WERE AT THE VETERINARIANS,  of course they were anxious.  I prepared myself to give a clear sign if the woman came my way but luckily she was quickly escorted to the back.

If someone says NO or moves away; it means NO, keep moving along.   



  1. Good advice. A few years ago, my husband and I were walking our standard poodles around the "block" (we live in a rural area, so the "block" is about a mile and a half in circuit). A tiny woman came from the other way with a giant Great Dane on a leash. I'd estimate that human and dog weighed about the same. "You'd better go back," she said. "I can't control my dog." There was no way we were willing to "go back," particularly because she was just steps from her own driveway. Maybe SHE was suffering from "little dog syndrome." I was pretty sure this Great Dane was not going to hurt us, but to be sure I told my husband to walk quickly and not make eye contact with the dog. The Great Dane had no reaction to us as we passed. But my head still reels when I think about a dog owner who admits -- with no shame!!! -- she can't control her dog.

  2. Your experience at the vet’S office sent me right back to an experience I had with my youngest BeagLe, Shasta – I hope I’m not repeating myself here - it obviously had a lasting impact on me (I'm glad it didn't on Shasta) because I remember it like it just happened and I’ve talked about this to so many (dog) people and can’t remember them all. We were in the waiting room at the vet’s office (1 vet practice and small office area) for Shasta’s appointment. What happened next is somewhat of a blur so I am so grateful the vet was there to intercede. I don’t go anywhere without my dogs on a leash (a regular leash not extended or like that – it’s just not something I would do, especially with Beagles). All of a sudden, the exam room door opens and out rushes a Westie – MINUS a leash OR collar – I wonder if the person had just picked up a stray but even then, I would hope the vet’s office would have at least 1 extra to protect it’s own clients. (And evidentally this has happened here before because the vet said he hates it when people bring their dogs in without a leash) Anyway, the actions of that Westie took me totally by surprise (my sis has raised Westies for over 30 years and none has ever behaved that way) as it made a beeline for Shasta and grabbed her around the neck. As the vet (a good size man) wrestled the Westie away from Shasta (shaken but not physically hurt) another owner enters the vet’s office with a puppy – it DID have a collar but again, NO leash of any kind. The owner allowed the puppy to roam around the small waiting room – luckily the pup was more interested in hanging around Shasta (and she was ok with that) than following anyone out the door which was right there. ANYWAY – no kind of restraint on a dog in a vet office - that is something you just do not do. I remember I did post about this on my blog – one comment I got was their vet will not let a dog or cat in the office without a leash or in a crate – I’m thinking that is a good idea. Another one said their vet has a couple extra leashes right there at the door as you enter – another good idea altho too bad the vet has to take action for what needs to be a pet owner’s responsibility.
    Mom Kim

  3. Can't tell you how much this drives me nuts! I work at Petco and many dog owners seem to have no idea how to read body language. My first week I was at the register (I had perviously asked my manager what to do if a dog fight occurs and they said don't worry about it, it never happens) and was cashing out an owner with a sweet little adult pitbull. I had seen the pair walk in and pass another man who had a young golden retriever puppy on an extension leash (letting the puppy wrap around everything and everyone). The puppy ran up to the pitbull, the pitty quickly ran behind his owner's legs while the puppy's owner talked to another shopper and ignored what his puppy was doing. So while at check out the owner with the puppy was near by and of course the puppy came over wanting to play. The pitty went to the other side of his owner, tucked tail and lowered his head- all tense. The puppy still pursued- as puppies do, puppy's owner ignored, pitty then bared teeth and growled. The pitbull made it SO clear that he wanted nothing to do with the puppy and was actually quite scared (a whole other issue but he was saying clearly leave me alone) but the puppy still learning didn't get it and the puppy's owner could have cared less. Puppy's owner thought his dog should be able to go up to any dog and say hello (my take). Well of course the puppy didn't leave the pitbull alone and the pitbull lunged, snapped and grabbed to puppy's ear. The poor puppy yelped loud, his owner FREAKED out telling the pitbull other his dog was dangerous, why do people keep such dangerous dogs. Of course I called my manager quickly who calmed the puppy owner and checked to make sure the puppy was ok (no blood or anything just scared). I calmed the pitbull owner as the puppy's owner loudly insulted the pitbull, saying don't worry I saw everything that happened, it was all on camera, I know your dong was clearly not at fault (he could have ripped the puppy's ear off but chose not to). I even kneeled down to see how to pitbull was, he was overstimulated definitely but wagged his tagged, relaxed his face and came over to lick my face. Just UGH! That puppy's owner was so oblvious!!!


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