Are you one of those dog owners that typically avoids the meet and greet with other dogs on leash whenever you’re out and about? If you are then your dog probably has or soon might have behavioral problems!
Dogs are one of the most, if not the most, social species across the globe. A canine’s very survival depends on teaming up and working together, whether it’s wolves forming a pack in order to take down larger prey in Yellowstone or a Chihuahua living with an eighty year old woman on the 49th floor of a Seattle skyscraper – teamwork makes the dreamwork. And even though we know that all dogs are highly, highly social (it’s instinctual) there are thousands and thousands of well-meaning dog owners that will not allow their dog to meet another random dog walking by them on leash. And these days there is bad info out there even suggesting such. What gives? Why won’t more and more dog owners simply relax enough to let their dog meet another dog?
- Because they follow bad, status quo advice that sounds good but, upon further investigation or deeper thought, proves to be ridiculous. Want an example? (I was hoping you did!) Below is a perfect example of the “well-meaning yet stupid” advice that comes right from the mediocre, mainstream, status quo dog “lovers” and “trainers” direct to your phone or computer via Facebook, Instagram, et cetera. The below memes, while initially seeming to make sense, IF followed, would literally make thousands and eventually millions of dogs (and their owners) less and less social and more and more psychologically fragile and problematic! Which, if we’re being honest, is already happening at an alarming rate without the idiotic advice of skipping all on leash meetings! Please SAY NO to these memes and help your dog achieve greater levels of sociability.
- Reason numero dos why more and more dog owner’s will not relax and let their dog meet another dog…Because more and more people these days are fearful. We have been slowly conditioned over generations to think “Safety first.” We have been taught to helicopter parent. People are so afraid and have insane amounts of info telling us to continue to be afraid. We have been given so much information so fast due to the digital revolution that most of us are addicted to it. Many folks watch the “news” or receive updates moment by agonizing moment on the latest tragedy that happens anywhere and everywhere in the world. People, this is bad for your brain and bad for your body! Stop being wooed by the internet. Say NO to a high information diet! Say NO to letting the “news” consistently trigger your adrenals and your fight/flight responses because, as I’ve explained before, chances are high that you’re Not going to fly over to Timbuktu to actually aid in fixing the most recent famine, or pitch in for hurricane relief, or take up arms in some civil war effort half a world away. And because you’re Not going over and DOING anything about it then it is a sort of folly (a foolish mental gymnastic) to simply bog down your mind and emotions with this alarming info consistently throughout your day. Let it go. Safety, My Friends, is way, way over-rated. In fact, in the name of “safety” we in the USA, are watching as our rights and freedoms steadily erode and disappear as a Nanny State grows but that is perhaps a subject for a different post or blog altogether.
- The third reason we SHOULD let our dogs meet on leash – No Risk = No reward. Successful people in every walk of life know that if there’s No Risk then there’s little to No Reward. We should take it to heart for ourselves, for our children, and for our dogs. “Risking” your dog meeting another dog on leash is necessary in our society to keep dogs from going further off the deep end towards fear and aggression! How do you think dog daycares or dog parks even work? They rely on the inherently peaceful and social nature of our dogs and on their excellent language skills. The “risk” of having dogs meet on leash is so minor when compared to the upside and when compared to plenty of other risky things in the wide world I believe that it is only in pathetic 2019 dog owners that a meme like the one above and immediately below would ever be taken seriously. Is this how far we’ve fallen as a society and as dog owners – we can’t even talk to a neighbor/fellow dog owner on the sidewalk and ask if the dogs can meet? If so then we are truly Pathetic with a capital P.
We really struck dog intelligence and sociability a nasty blow when random bureaucrats instituted leash laws in cities and towns across the country several years back. Am I against leash laws currently? No, because we can’t go back due to the fact that our dogs have now lost so much common sense, language skills, and because of the rampant rise of fear and aggression among dogs. When we forced the leash on them, stifling their freedom and natural movements, we took away two key factors in our relationship with dogs. We lost RESPECT for their natural intelligence and their ability to navigate the world around them, and we obviously didn’t TRUST them, thus the institution of leash laws, and, sadly, that was the final nail in the coffin of TRUST. Dogs lost real world wisdom and experience and we now see and experience the fallout daily in society. (Example: Dogs that escape the front door, dogs that escape the yard, dogs that go crazy with territorial guarding, dogs that are hit by cars when they’re running loose, dogs that run up and just attack another dog unprovoked…these things didn’t happen as often when they were free to run the neighborhoods many years past.)
Think for a moment of cats. Many outdoor cats still have real world wisdom and do NOT get hit by cars even though they are loose out of doors. Many outdoor cats do not randomly attack each other. Many outdoor cats are savvy. These cats know when it’s proper to slip away quietly and when it’s proper to stand their ground and fight (yes, sometimes, in rare cases, fighting IS the best option).
Instead of taking the unsocial approach by not letting your pooch meet other dogs on leash (which causes horrific psychological damage and more fear and aggression) I would highly, highly suggest cultivating a great heel. Get those heeling and leash manners going so that you aren’t being dragged down the sidewalk and so that you can contain some of your dog’s energy levels as you approach another dog and owner. Have the on-leash skills and get the know how in order to efficiently move and guide and direct your dog’s head and eye contact. We have a great intro to Heeling and Leash Manners video available for anyone interested – go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com to order it!
Before just obeying some gormless meme offering facile solutions on the internet concerning dog behavior even if it’s from a dog training company, I encourage you, Dog Owners, to listen and follow instead what lines up with Mother Nature and what advice agrees with more peaceable, relaxed, playful socialization among all dogs and all canines. Does your dog need to meet all other dogs on leash – of course not. Should you keep your dog in a rigid heel and pass by every dog you see – of course not. Flexibility that leads to greater levels of Sociability is the name of the game! If you want a better dog then socializing is always, always, always the answer (and within that answer you must learn the hows and whats of doing that smoothly through proper movement and leash handling – Not just avoiding every dog on leash because your dog (or their dog) may be nervous).
When dogs meet each other they will attempt to rush forward. This is very normal because dogs are a fast species and their primary senses (first senses of touch, smell, and taste) should be itching to engage with the other dog. This, Friends, is where hosts of dog owners typically blow it.
In the next and final installment of this little series In Praise of Tangled Leashes we will go into the practical, physical specifics and how to make it go smoothly for both your dog, the other dog, yourself, and the other dog owner during your meet and greet. I will also touch on why the fearful or aggressive dog desperately needs to learn how to meet on leash and how to get that started efficiently through proper handling!
Stay tuned and while you do please Follow/Subscribe to this fine blog and sample my books on Amazon, Apple iBooks, or at Barnes and Noble. Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety will greatly aid you in your quest to develop your dog into all he/she can be and so that you can prevent, reverse, or eliminate any and all behavioral issues instead of run from them like the above memes suggested! Don’t believe me? Read some of the marvelous reviews from other readers then try the samples of the books.
TO BE CONTINUED…