Ask the Trainer: “Why do you say not to let our dogs meet on leash?”
I discourage people from allowing their puppies or untrained dogs to meet other dogs on leash. My students commonly ask why.
I’ll answer this question with an analogy. Growing up, I didn’t have to follow many rules. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I was like Huck Finn. If I wanted to go to a party or a concert, I went. I didn’t ask, but it wasn’t a secret. To me it was: Fun = I go.
One night when I wanted to go to a Santana concert. I could have just gone but I happened to mention it. My mom said “No”. She had a few reasons, but I didn’t agree. Here was my emotional trajectory: Desire to go…frustration at not being able to go…fear of missing out…and finally some loud, vocal, angry words from me.
Here was the result next time I wanted to go to a concert: I didn’t say anything about it. I just went.
Let’s look at that same experience in terms of dog behavior. Your new puppy gets to meet other puppies and dogs on leash much of the time. She has a great time and looks forward to it again, and learns to pull on the leash toward other dogs without even asking! When she doesn’t get to meet another dog (for reasons of safety, time or convenience) the impatience and learned pulling turns into barking and perhaps even fierce-looking frustrated lunging. The dogs have become entitled to go say hi! Just like I felt entitled to always go to concerts, and just like my angry reaction at being denied.
After your puppy or dog has had some training and learns self-control, how to wait, check in, keep four paws on the ground and return to you on cue, only then would I even consider allowing him or her to greet other dogs on leash. My dog is such a dog, but I never let him greet dogs that are pulling toward him on leash.
First and foremost you want a dog that is attentive to you when you are on a walk. This is the foundation of enjoying walking your dog. After your dog can behave and have manners around others dog, then you could occasionally do a few greetings on leash, but you pick what dogs and when.
Help your dog learn impulse control and a positive, patient association with loose leash walking and greetings. Consider every single outing to be a training session. For assistance with your timing and training skills, contact your friendly neighborhood dog trainer. If you live in West LA, give us a call!