Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Can My Dog Say Hello?

Oh how I dread that question these days. When Lily was a puppy, I let her greet everything and everyone. I have an AmStaff, I thought, I need to make sure she's properly socialized! And she was! She had fun, playful romps on leash, got corrections (and rightly so) from older dogs for being too rambunctious, and was the neighborhood Greeter Dog. But as she started to grow, the little dogs weren't so fond of her anymore. Who could blame them? She was a massive, drooling beast compared to them. It took a few bites (TO her), one of them particularly nasty where I didn't think I was ever going to get the Yorkie OFF her cheek, when I finally decided that my dog does NOT need to say hello. I got really tired of hearing "My dog is friendly!" knowing by the body language that it wasn't.  This was shouted out to me as a small puppy ran toward us teeth bared three weeks ago and got her on the face. "If your dog bites, they are NOT friendly," I told the owner.  I've seen her shouting the same thing at other dog owners all with the same results.  So she still doesn't get it, which is unfortunate for both her and her dog.  The dog will be the one to pay the price when it bites a dog that isn't going to put up with it.

What I wasn't prepared for when telling people that my dog can't say hello - the nasty owners. God forbid you say 'no' to someone who wants their dogs to greet yours. The looks that I get! One woman on our walk yesterday actually huffed at me. I was worried people would think it was a breed issue so I started telling people she isn't allowed to greet on leash.

Here's how it goes:
Overenthusiasticmydogmustsayhellotoeveryoneperson: "Can he/she say hi?"
Me: "No. I don't let her greet on leash."
Nowpuzzledperson: "Isn't she friendly?"
Me: "She's friendly. I just don't let her greet on leash."
Cue nasty/confused look.

I have men run right up to me with their little white fluffy dogs at least once every other walk. It's like they need to prove their own dog is 'man' enough to not be scared of my 'pit bull'. Don't laugh. I'm convinced that's what it is. If I cross the street, they do too. It's crazy making stuff. I try so hard not to get annoyed, but what do you do when you just want to be left alone? I want a nice, quiet walk with my well behaved and friendly dog. She can greet people. She just cannot greet other dogs.  My rules.

Another aspect of it is the training issue. Walks are still training time. I want to be Lily's focus. If she's allowed to greet, it's like she's got ADHD and is hyperalert to every dog. She can't focus on me because she's too excited about the dog coming down the street that she's going to get to greet and maybe romp around with.  Since I stopped letting her greet, I am the sole focus. This is great for training. I like to throw in extra things, like running on walls, then jumping off to my command and performing a few tricks before moving on to the next wall. (I don't have an agility dog so we pretend - it makes Mama happy and it tuckers Lily out) It's nice to know that she's focused 100% on me and ignoring that barking dog at the end of the flexie leash!

A trainer once asked me, "Do you like every person you meet?" In light of my Living Humanely post on Monday, I feel terrible admitting that no, I do not like every person I meet. There are people in my own family that I'm not fond of. She followed my response with, "Then why should your dog like EVERY dog she meets?" Hmmmm, good point. "Do you say hello to every single person you see on your walk?" No, I gave that up a long time ago. Not many people say hello back. "Then why should your dog be expected to say hello to every single dog she sees?" Another good point. If only every other dog owner out there were to ponder those two questions! 

There is a wonderful new group now - Dogs In Need of Space (DINOs). You can find them on Facebook. Here is their take on the My Dog Is Friendly!

Is your dog friendly? Do you let him or her greet on walks? Or does your dog need space?


  1. This is the problem I am having with Schultz. He is extremely dog reactive when he is on his leash. Whining and jumping and pulling to go meet this new dog. Since he does not have very good doggie manners yet (he likes to tackle his new "best friend" which can look very similar to attacking and tends to scare the others dog's owner) I never let him near other dogs during our walks. I try my best to keep him from ever seeing them and only focus on me. He is doing much better, but my neighbors leave their dogs out unleashed and unattended. How am I suppose to teach my dog self control and manners when an unaccompanied little yippie yorkie comes charging him and gets in his face? It's so frustrating being a responsible and aware owner when other people are definitely not. I think you are definitely doing the right thing!

  2. We always worry about the "other" dogs greeting us. What really gets me is the other person telling me their dog won't hurt my little 4lb Lucy as their dog is barring teeth. I always yell stop! Most people will pass us by because with our group together we probably look dangerous! LOL

    To get back to your question I always tell others to stop that we don't greet even though my girls are friendly.