The Five Pillars of Successful Leash Greetings

  1. Ask first, greet later. Always ask the guardian’s permission before you let your dog meet another dog. The other dog might be shy, fearful, leash reactive, or—who knows?—in training to learn better greeting manners. This goes doubly for dogs in off-leash areas: If the other dog is on leash, there’s probably a reason. Call your dog to your side and clip on the leash until you are well past the other person.
  2. No pulling to say hi. Your chances of a successful greeting increase if your dog doesn’t come on too strong. Even between dogs it’s not considered polite to rush up and put your nose into someone else’s face. Insist on loose-leash walking on the approach. If your dog strains at the leash, change direction for a few steps and then try approaching the other dog again.
  3. Relax. If you feel anxious about the greeting, your dog may pick up on it and react with over-excitement or fear. Take a deep breath, put on your best happy voice, and keep the leash nice and loose—a taut leash can add unintended tension.
  4. Keep’em short and sweet. Even if two dogs are getting along famously, it’s a good idea to cheerfully encourage your dog to walk away with you after 3-5 seconds. Why? If a fight is going to happen on leash, duration is almost always a component because leashed dogs don’t have the option of increasing social distance when uncomfortable.
  5. Don’t force it. If your dog doesn’t seem interested in saying hello, don’t insist. Not all dogs enjoy the company of other dogs, and many dogs feel less comfortable saying hello while on leash. That’s okay, tooD

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