At a recent meet and greet, we had an incident that resulted from a face-to-face canine encounter. A man with a large, long-haired dog stopped by to look at the greyhounds and his dog met one of the greyhounds nose to nose. The greeting went from a sniff to a snap on the part of the greyhound. Fortunately, the other dog had long hair, the people reacted quickly, and there were no injuries. The other dog’s owner was not impressed with greyhounds after this encounter. The venue for this M&G was on a busy shopping street with narrow sidewalks and lots of people with dogs. The greyhounds are on very short leashes to prevent them from blocking the sidewalk. All of these factors contributed to this negative encounter.
A first-time face-to-face canine encounter is a potentially dangerous situation. Off lead, most dogs will immediately go to the other dog’s butt and sniff. If the smells and vibes are good, the dogs will eventually do a face-to-face greeting. When dogs are on leash, they can’t do what they would naturally do. They are controlled by their handlers and the leash adds to the tension. Last month, in George’s Training Tips, GFFL talked about proper greyhound meetings:
- Walk behind the other dog and let your dog sniff. Let the other dog go to your dog’s rear end and sniff. Take it slowly.
- Let the dogs stand or walk side-by-side for a few minutes.
- Take your cues from the dogs. When they’re calm, allow a face- to-face meeting.
For those that participate in meet and greets, play dates, or when you take your dog to places where they are likely to meet other dogs, play close attention to both dogs’ behavior in the greeting. If one dog is calm, but the other dog is tense or agitated, a perceived threatening movement could result in growling, showing teeth, or a bite – – – possibly even initiated by the dog that was initially calm. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable, remove him from the situation, walk around to calm him down, then try again. If your dog continues to be agitated or uncomfortable, leave the situation and try again another day.
If you’re concerned about a canine meeting, remain calm. All trainers will tell you that dogs can feel tension down the leash. If you’re tense, your dog will sense it and be on alert. If you can’t relax, leave the situation. If the dogs are okay with each other but the owners are tense, things could escalate because of the owners’ behaviors.
I’m constantly amazed by people who visit a meet and greet with their own dogs and plow into a group of strange dogs without a thought. Their actions tell me they are clueless about canine behavior. If that happens to you, take the high road and ask for a slower greeting just to be sure there are no problems.
When your dog behaves perfectly in a dog greeting, remember to give them lots of praise and loving for their good behavior.