Behavior Tip: Other Dog Owners

It’s a story we’ve all told. You’re walking Dog, not in the dog park where you know Dog will have a problem, but on the sidewalk where there is a six-feet leash law. A dog approaches quickly from around the corner, unleashed, and Dog starts going crazy. You are straining to hold Dog back, and stressing about whether you’ll be able to control the situation or not. The other owner casually rounds the corner and says “oh, don’t worry, he’s great with other dogs”. Your blood is boiling - he might be great with other dogs but Dog is not. You chose this area because you are doing your best to keep Dog safe, and other dogs too. You scream at the other owner, or icily pierce him with a passive-aggressive spear.  

But what about Dog?

You respond in anger and frustration, and Dog thinks that this always happens when other dogs are around. To Dog, other dogs mean bad things happen.  

You have to let it go. You can not control the other owner. You can only control yourself. You must stay calm and leave the situation as quickly as possible. Focus on staying peaceful by exhaling longer than you inhale, smiling, even humming a happy little tune. The more calm you stay, the greater chance that Dog will be less aroused the next time you encounter a dog. It’s not easy, yet if you don’t modify your own behavior, you and Dog are going to have a harder time in the long run.  

In addition, try to have some compassion towards the other owner. They are not being considerate, yet they are not making things difficult on purpose.  

Give it a try. If you’d like some help managing your dog, consider contacting me for a consultation.