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Saturday, September 18, 2010

He Just Wants to Say "Hi!"

Our beagle, Daisy, is a vocal dog.  When she plays with other dogs, there is a lot of growling, grunting, barking, "aroo-ing" and other sounds coming from her.  She also gets a "mohawk" (the hair along her back stands up -- piloerection) because she is so excited.  She loves other dogs and loves to play with them.  But she likes it to go a certain way, she likes it to be on her terms.  This isn't a bad thing, it just is, and we are very aware of it.  So when she is meeting new dogs, we take care to observe the "protocol" we have learned from her.

I don't take my dog to pet-friendly pet stores very often.  Mostly because of the other people and their dogs.  Since Daisy is only about 22 pounds, little dogs tend to want to to "meet" her.  She's a little bigger, but not too much, and she is very laid back.  But if your dog is lunging toward us, growling and barking at the end of his retractable leash, I'm going to do a quick turn away from you while telling you my dog is not friendly -- please don't approach us.  For Daisy, this is not in her protocol for meeting other dogs and it is going to set her on edge, therefore setting the whole situation up for failure!

But because my dog is also being vocal and because her "mohawk" is up, other people think Daisy is being aggressive.  She's not.  She is being herself.  Excited to see a new dog, but nervous because this dog has lunged at her face.  We have learned to read our dog, to know when she is relaxed, excited, happy, nervous, fearful, hungry, tired -- the wide gamut of emotions she has.  If the other dog is too forward with Daisy, she is going to let them know.  If the other dog is polite and takes time to read the situation (as Daisy does), it will go very well.  She is a very expressive dog -- as long as the humans and the dogs are paying attention.

Letting dogs say "hi" while on leash is rarely a good idea unless the dogs already know each other.  Many dogs get very frustrated with the leash attached and meeting another dog while on leash may not be successful because of this frustration.  Dogs that are lunging at the end of a leash towards another dog -- no matter how friendly -- may be perceived as being aggressive by the dog they are trying to get to.  And some dogs just do not want to be greeted.  They may be wonderful dogs and love other dogs, but they may be working, they may be in training, they may not feel well, or many other things may be going on that make this not a good time or place to say "hi."

Please, always ask, from a reasonable distance (at least a distance where the dogs cannot make physical contact with each other) if you and your dog can greet another person and his/her dog.  If he/she says no, please respect that and be understanding.  Don't jump to conclusions or make judgments.  It could be anything or it could be they are just not in the mindset to successfully handle a greeting right at this time in this place.  If he/she says yes, he/she may share with you how it will go best for his/her dog.  If you know how it will go best for your dog, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE share that with him/her.  That way the dogs can meet successfully and start to develop a relationship.  (We strongly suggest observing your dog and learning how he/she best handles greeting new dogs, people, etc. -- that way you can be strong, knowledgeable advocate for your dog.)

Enjoying the journey is part of the joy of having a dog.  Make the journey a good experience for you, your dog, and the people and dogs you encounter along the way.

Daisy with Kendra in their last trial.  Love that attention and focus!!!

It's the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop -- we hope you can visit some of these great blogs and enjoy all they have to offer.


AngelPups said...

Awesome information and post! My three pups all have different ways they like to meet other pups and are extremely social. But, sometimes it's easier for us not to meet other dogs because my guys are excited and will set each other off! I always hope that other people understand and will want to meet us another time ;-)
Happy Hopping!
Kelly & Crew
Big Mac, Molly & Moxie


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