NO, they don’t have to say hello!
I have received the question why it is that I prevent my dogs from approaching other dogs? But it’s not that I’m avoiding it, actually. It’s more that I respect my dogs. And the other ones.
A couple of weeks ago my Goku (greyhound) had an encounter with a Belgian Tervuren Shepherd. The Tervuren was approaching head on. At a distance of about five meters, the two dogs stopped and looked at each other. They then began to sniff their immediate surroundings and both put on a urine mark. After that, they switched positions, there was never less than three meters between them, and they smelled the mark the other had put. Then they looked at each other once again and that, they continued on their way. Each one minding their own business.
It is quite clear to me that here we are talking about two mature and experienced dogs, who know how to interact with other unfamiliar dogs. Neither of them had the need to get close to the other. There was no reason to smell each other’s butts. They greeted each other politely and with respect, from a distance. This entire sequence was a master class in canine communication, through eye contact and olfaction.
Another event with Goku, was a few years ago. He and I were walking along the Altea promenade and we probably met about 20 dogs during it. Goku had absolutely no interest in the vast majority of them, but he clearly avoided three. Actually, there was only one – one of about 20 – that he wanted to interact with. This was a small Shi-Tzu looking dog. He didn’t have anything resembling a Greyhound, but he was the one Goku wanted to have a chat with.
To be honest, the only reason why my dog has to stop to greet another dog is because I make him do it, or because it’s something he’s learned he has to do.
A study of 13,700 domestic dogs in Finland, showed that 17 percent of the dogs showed fear when approached by a strange dog. To me this is amazing. There can only be one reason for this:
My dog doesn’t think he has any other choice, but to approach the other dog.
And if 17 percent show fear, what is the percentage of dogs that feel uncomfortable or have some discomfort?
Think about it!
We don’t walk around stopping, extending our hand and telling everyone we meet about our life when we go for a walk. So why do we put our dog in that position?
If you make your dog understand that he has the option of not greeting the other dog, what do you think he will do?
I can assure you that he will not approach everyone, whom he meets, to say hello…
There’s no need to say hello.
This article was first published on Slow Dog Movement Limited Edition ‘On the ground’ ZINE – Issue No. 3 – February 2023