The scene is all too common. Two people, often strangers, are walking their dogs on leash. One pair (human and dog) walks toward the other pair (human and dog) on a sidewalk often with each dog leading each human. One of the humans will often say to their dog, as if the dog was a 4 year-old human in desperate need of human friends, do you want to say “hi”? This is usually in a high-pitched voice and tone and a big human smile. High tones and pitches excite dogs.
The ritual typically unfolds as follows – The scene from left to right: human, their dog on the end of the leash face-to-face with the other dog and at the end of their leash, the other human. The order looks like this: human, leash, dog, dog, leash, human. Usually, tails are wagging, leashes are taught, now the ‘butt sniff circle’ happens. This is where leashes get tangled and humans start with the “oh…sorry…let me just…there…OK…ah…they seem to be….OK….there…untangled”.
Now that greetings and untanglings are done, maybe they dogs bounce and want to play with each other – which is great – but maybe not. It’s the “maybe not” part is the potential danger. There is little upside to meeting a strange dog on leash. The downside could be a negative outcome for one or both dogs and or owners. Why put your dog in such a position? Why risk meeting a stranger and dog you know nothing about? What if the oncoming dog has a muzzle order due to several bite incidents and the human disregards the order and takes this dog out for a walk muzzle-free?
Why risk meeting a dog that has no training, manners, no impulse control or is aggressive? Why risk meeting a dog who has an owner that thinks their dog being aggressive with other dogs, is funny? We do not control who walks what dog(s) when or where. We do not know or control how they train, educate and manage their dog.
Please be aware – Stopping to meet another dog on leash has little upside.