The other day I was sitting at the coffee shop watching the world go by. There were people there, as usual (my clients with dog-aggressive dogs call it “the gauntlet”), and one woman with a small terrier on a leash. She was walking briskly past, talking on the phone. Her dog wasn’t causing any problems.
The crowd surged, and she found herself partially blocked and had to slow to a near stop. In front of her, a gentleman with an Australian shepherd blocked her path (on accident, I’m sure) and instead of continuing on his way, he stopped and allowed his dog to approach. The little dog cowered back against the woman’s legs. She gave the man a wide-eyed, “call your dog back” look (which she couldn’t say, because she was on the phone), which he didn’t see because he was smiling down at his dog. She couldn’t get past him, he wasn’t moving, and the whole situation was bad.
Now as it happened, it all worked out. The woman squeeeeezed past the gentleman, got her dog out, and kept going. But I felt really bad for her. (I probably should have said something, but I was busy reminding my lab-in-training to ignore them no matter what happened.)
I see this, or this sort of thing happen all the time. My clients with dog-aggressive dogs under control (so they know better than to have an outburst, and instead walk calmly past other dogs, but we still don’t let them associate with other dogs because they aren’t trustworthy) say their greatest fear is constantly those owners who say, “But my dog is friendly!” and allow their dogs to come charging up, instead of leaving a respectful amount of space.
There’s a lot more to say about letting your dog greet properly, but for right now I’m more interested in owners. Owners! Give other dogs space! Don’t assume that just because your dog is friendly, the other dogs are friendly, fearless, and confident. They only have to be missing one of those for it to be a miserable experience for them, even if nothing bad happens. We don’t want that. 😦 Here, have a cartoon by Lili Chen, who clearly knows what I’m talking about!