Don’t: Let your dog run up to unknown dogs

Among the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of dog care, letting your dog run up to other dogs they don’t know is definitely a ‘DON’T’.

Letting your dog run up to another dog is poor behavior all around for a number of reasons:
1) The dog your dog runs up to could be frightened, and run away, including into a dangerous situation, such as a street, or a ditch.
2) The dog your dog runs up to could be triggered, and might attack, or otherwise injure your dog.
3) The dog your dog runs up to could be large, strong, or otherwise difficult for the handler to keep in check, and that could cause injury to the handler.

Some of the common things I hear as a rebuttal are:
1) “Oh, it’s okay, my dog is friendly”. No, it’s not okay, and guess what, selfish person? It’s NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about the unknown, and the potential for disaster. Don’t cause potential for disaster.
2) “Well, it’s not a big deal, I mean, they’re dogs, they’ll figure it out”. Yes, they are dogs, and yes, they will figure out. Are you willing to accept your dog being severely injured for running up to another dog, startling it, and being attacked?
3) “Well, if your dog has that issue, then maybe you shouldn’t have your dog outside.” I know plenty of dogs, and people, that don’t like other creatures to run up on them, and that’s no reason to keep them inside, but it IS reason for all of us to handle our responsibilities properly.

A specific scenario from my experience:
I’m out in the field next to the hotel i’m staying at (not a dog park!), working with my two dogs. For those of you that follow Kirby’s story, you know he comes from a rough past, and while he’s a wonderful dog, he does not take kindly to being startled or ‘run up on’.
As i’m walking and working with my dogs, off leash but under my voice control, another dog, about Kirby’s size, a puppy, comes running over, barreling straight for Kirby. I get both dogs to come to me, sit, and hold, and I then stand over Kirby so I can use my legs to hold him if I need to, but he’s sitting firmly, and paying very close attention to this puppy.
As the puppy comes into my reach, I grab his collar and turn him away, shooing him back to his handler, who finally comes into view. I ask the woman if this is her dog, and she confirms it is. I tell her it’s a good idea to keep him on a leash, or at least not let him run up on other dogs. She quickly begins to argue with me, citing point #1 above, and makes it very clear that she’s selfish, and happy to argue about it. Meanwhile, she’s also calling the puppy back to her, but the puppy is not listening to her, at all, and keeps lunging at Kirby.

I’ve seen Kirby ‘in action’, and I can assure you that is not behavior I wish to ever see again, nor will I tolerate from him without just cause. As i’m dealing with Ms. Selfish and her prying puppy, Kirby is sitting firmly, and while he’s very curious, and a little tense, he listened well and showed excellent restraint. After a couple tense minutes, the lady finally gets her dog on a leash, and drags him off to the car, yelling and insulting me the whole way back.

Situations like this are why I work hard with my dogs, every day, to ensure that they will listen to me FIRST, no matter what the distraction is, and why I keep chipping away at Kirby’s past, so his future can be better.

Please be sure to always keep your pets on a leash, or under firm voice control, when you’re out and about in the wild, and when another dog handler tells you to stay away from his or her dog, LISTEN to them, and do not approach without invitation. The next time you do that might be the last time your dog walks.


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