0 Comments | Oct 14, 2011

Pulling Because of Greeting Other Dogs?

Question:  My daily dogwalker allows Daphne (Standard Poodle), on leash, to run up to other dogs and meet & greet enthusiastically. This may well be part of the reason that she pulls so hard, which has lead to inury.  I need to convey clear instructions and would appreciate guidance on how to verbally instruct the walker on how to proceed going forward. Thank you very much. –Kath Aleen R.


Answer:  I’m very glad you emailed me about this. I believe that you are right, and this is a big contributor to your pulling problem.

There are multiple reasons we ask that you not allow your dog to meet and greet other (stranger) dogs on walks. One of them you got an unfortunate personal lesson in—they think it’s okay to pull and lunge whenever they see another dog. This is dangerous for the handler, other people in the vicinity and also for the dog—she doesn’t check traffic before lunging into the street or make sure there are no children or elderly people or obstacles in her (and your) path.

It sets up a difficult obedience problem and undermines your relationship—she doesn’t ask permission before she dashes off and she learns that it’s okay to ignore you while she’s in pursuit of getting what she wants.

It creates tension between her and the dog she is approaching and allows her to become habituated to bad dog manners—Dogs on leash straining to greet another dog rarely take the polite arc approach that is considered good doggy manners. Instead they bulldoze straight in which is a flagrant breach of dog protocol and considered extremely rude, even aggressive, by the dog being approached.

It cuts off escape routes for either dog in the greeting situation should they become uncomfortable—dogs who are uncomfortable with a social situation have two methods to increase the social distance between themselves and another dog. They can move away or they can cause the other dog to move away. When on leash, the “move away” option is gone, therefore their only option to increase social distance is to get the other dog to move away. This can be accomplished in several ways, but one common one is growling/snapping/lunging at the other dog.

I would ask your dog walker to walk Daphne singly, with no other dogs, on a leash no longer than 4 feet, and that she not allow Daphne to meet and greet any dogs on leash at this point. Also, Daphne should be sitting and waiting at doors, at the top of stairs and at street crossings. When other dogs are passing, Daphne should be working on focus on her handler with treat rewards. With consistency from both you and your dog walker, this is definitely a problem you can solve.