Almost weekly now, I am faced with trying to block a friendly dog from “saying ‘hi'” to my dog.
I am very happy that your dog is friendly, social, and outgoing. However, it can be a bad idea to just let your dog go up to other dogs without asking the owner first.
I know it can be hard to remember all the reasons why a friendly dog shouldn’t just be able to make new friends. I have friendly dogs myself. BUT I also have a dog with genetic aggression issues. I have worked very hard to counter-condition her natural tendency to react. I work very hard to prevent a situation in which she might actually get close enough to another dog to have an incident. She is always on leash in public settings so as to maximize my control over her behavior. She does not bark at other dogs while she is on leash. She does not lunge at other dogs while on leash. She does not actually give any indication that she is a reactive dog, because of all the training I have done with her. In fact, she is wonderful with my other dogs (including my 3lb Chihuahua) and small children. And yet, I am constantly on high alert, because “friendly” dogs just want to say “hi”.
I am not saying your friendly dog needs to be on a leash. After-all, he is friendly. However, I do think that he should not be allowed to just walk up to other dogs to say “hi” without the permission from the other dog owner.
My friendly dogs, whether they are on leash or off leash, do not go to visit other dogs. I have taught them to stay with me both for their safety (what if the other dog is not friendly or sick?) and as a form of respect for the other dog and owner (what if the other dog is fearful, reactive, or in the middle of a training session?).
Just as we try to teach human children to not approach strange dogs without permission from the dog’s owner first, I would love to see dogs not approach other dogs without permission from the other dog’s owner first.
I understand just wanting to allow our pets to be social. But it is truly in their best interest if we do not allow them to visit with strange dogs. Please arrange play dates with other dogs and owners who you know to be friendly and healthy, or at the very least, ask the owner of the dog who your dog wants to visit if it is okay first.
Do you have anything to add? I would love to hear your opinion on dogs who just want to say “hi” in the comments!