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  • Do all dogs want to say hello?

    Posted by Janine Allen at Tuesday, April 21st, 2009.


    We dog people tend to gravitate toward each other in kindred spirit. Ahh…. those who share in dog-haired clothing, early morning walks, and silly dog accounts. Fellow humans who have allowed themselves to be vulnerable to a dog’s relentless affection. We share training tips, vet advice, and will undoubtedly have several pictures of our best friends displayed on cell phone screens.

    We can’t help but think that our dogs must feel the same way. How happy our dog must be to see another quadruped whose owner spoils her with rhinestone collar and latest hairstyle. We are sure that our Weimaraner couldn’t possibly want to pass up meeting another of the same breed. And what dog living in a single-dog household wouldn’t want the company of his own species?

    But do they really want to say hello? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Most of us can understand that not every human likes every human and so goes it with the dogs. And, since we have stuck them on a leash or have confined them to a yard or house, it is our obligation to give them the opportunity to escape an uncomfortable situation. If not for the well-being of the dog, for the safety of others should the dog feel defensive.

    Besides the obvious dog who pulls at the end of the leash to escape, here are five things to look for in your dog when introducing another dog:

    • Tail between legs, slow evasive movement
    • Hiding behind owner
    • Yawning
    • Head turning away
    • Lip licking

    No matter how friendly Topsy’s owner says she is or how friendly Topsy actually is, it’s about how your dog feels about the situation at the given time. No amount of forcing your dog to greet the other dog will help him to overcome his discomfort.  It is best to remove the dog from proximity of the other dog as soon as possible or try to distract the dog with toys or treats, consoling if necessary.

    It is common courtesy to always ask before letting your dog approach another leashed dog. By all means, if the other dog is displaying any body language listed above, move away despite what the owner might say. That dog’s comfort level is in your hands at that moment.


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    Written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog's professional dog trainer. Janine's passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2018 Rescue Me Dog; www.rescuemedog.org

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    One Response to “Do all dogs want to say hello?”

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