Posted by: Linda Trunell | June 15, 2017

Why On-Leash Greetings with other dogs can be the single biggest mistake you make with your dog.

Dogs who are reactive on leash is probably the most common behavior issue I see in training. My own dog is sometimes not his usual friendly self when on leash.
I read an article recently that stated in many countries dogs do not expect to interact with people and other dogs when on leash and so they are more likely to ignore them. In the US the mindset seems to be that every dog should be saying “hi” to every dog or person they encounter on leash. I do tell my students to keep on-leash greetings with other dogs to 3 seconds maximum IF they allow them at all.

Please note that although I agree with the content of this linked post, I do NOT agree with or condone the methods or tools used by the writer in his training.  I never recommend choke, prong or shock collars.

David Tirpak

On leash greetings with people and dogs are the number one cause of behavioral issues on the walk.  They cause reactivity, condition excitement, and put dogs in immensely uncomfortable situations.  Lets break this down..

First and foremost the number one reason why we discourage on-leash greetings is due to the unnecessary social pressure that it creates for the dog.  In ideal social situations between dogs and dogs or dogs and people the dog is free to roam.  If they get stressed out due to another dog or person they can get up and walk away giving them space and reducing the social pressure.

Being on a leash is very restricting to most dogs.  They are stuck within a 4-6 foot radius of you at all times and are very aware of it.  This puts them in an innate position to tap into their fight or flight responses.  Since they do…

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  1. ok…….so, my dog is a golden retriever, bred to be passive around aggressive dogs, as a training dog.
    on more than one occasion, other dogs have rushed him, sometimes in a pack of three or four..and tried to attack.
    Had they all been on a lead, firstly they would have been under control…secondly, they could shout the odds as much as they liked, but would never make contact.
    It is the very first rule of self defence that you avoid contact.
    It is my responsibility to protect him, anything less leads to reactive defensive aggression that becomes a learnt response.
    My walks would be so much more relaxed if other owners took responsibility for ensuring no contact until it is agreed by both dogs and owners s being in the right spirit.


    • Thank you for your comment. I am sorry that your dog has been subjected to out of control loose dogs – it has also happened to me and my dog. People who do not obey leash laws are a major problem and have contributed to many dogs being scared and sometimes injured and becoming defensive and reactive when they are on leash.


  2. I used to allow on leash greetings for my dog, Dixie. We were going to say “hi”, to a dog who’s owner asked if they could meet. Dixie was about 6 feet away from them, and by my side and when I said she could go meet them. She got overly excited, barking and jumping, the other dog started barking at her because of her rude behavior. They did not meet. Now I just say no, and avoid any possible trouble.


    • Thank you for your comment. It is true that some dogs are really friendly but when they are overly excited to greet they can cause the other dog to react defensively so it is best to avoid the interaction.


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