Kimberley Grundy writes: When I’m working with clients, I am always telling them (and sometimes other members of the public!) that they shouldn’t allow their dog to greet others when one or both dogs are on the lead.
There are several reasons for this:
1. Firstly, when your dog is on a lead their movement is restricted. They can’t move as freely, and they can feel confined and sometimes uncomfortable. They can’t control how far away the other dog is. Even the friendliest of dogs can become anxious due to this restriction.
2. Leads change your dog’s body language. When your dog pulls towards another dog on the lead this tension on the lead changes the way your dog appears because their weight is over their toes, their legs stiffen, and they look far more intense. This has an effect in the dog’s brain too, instead of thinking calm, pro-social thoughts, it increases the dog’s level of arousal (think about a police dog pulling back on their lead before chasing a suspect).
3. It can lead to unrealistic expectations with puppies. Because there is so much weight placed on socialising our dogs, we often let puppies go up to, and say hi to every dog they see. However, this is unrealistic for the puppy as they go forwards in life leading to frustration. Frustrated dogs pull, lunge, bark or snarl because they can’t reach their target. This can change to on-lead aggression very easily. It is much easier to teach a puppy from the early days that they cannot have everything they want or see every dog on their walk.
4. Other dogs are on a lead for a reason. This is especially true if you are walking in an area where most dogs are off the lead. It is harder to walk the dog on a lead than it is off the lead so there are several reasons why that dog is on the lead: their dog is in training, injured or ill, old, deaf, blind or unsteady, nervous, doesn’t have a good recall, lack manners that end up in trouble. Allowing your dog to go up to another dog can cause a lot of trouble!
Instead we need to teach our dogs to greet appropriately, to ignore dogs when out and about and to come away from distractions when called. This will help all of our dogs to stay safe and happy!
About Kimberley ...
Kimberley Grundy is a canine behaviourist and trainer, based in Yorkshire, who has practiced for more than ten years, has two
masters degrees - one in Animal behaviour and welfare, another in Psychology.