When I go out with friends people don't go out of their way to say hi because they are also out with their friends. So why do people go out of their way when they see someone else out with their dogs?
Letting your dog ‘say hi’ to unknown dogs while you're out and about is not always safe or appropriate for the setting.
Why isn’t it safe?
1.) You don’t know the other dog or person.
2.) The other dog may not be vaccinated.
3.) The unknown dog may be sick or carrying an illness.
4.) The dog could be aggressive or have some other behavior issues going on.
5.) Any of the above applies to your dog. (especially if your dog is a puppy)
Keeping your pet safe is a top priority and some dogs can go from friendly to fighting like a sports car going 0-60 in 10 seconds. So let’s take preventative actions and not let our dogs rush up on doggy strangers, this will prevent fights, scary encounters that cause future behavior problems, and the spreading of illnesses.
When ‘saying hi’ is inappropriate.
1.) If the other owner says no.
2.) Out in pet friendly stores that are not specifically pet stores or pet friendly restaurants.
3.) If the other dog is a service dog, working dog such as a K-9 Officer or SAR dog while they are on duty.
4.) If the other owner went out of their way to create distance between your dog and theirs.
5.) Most importantly if the other owner said no.
There are times and places to let your dog approach another, like at the dog park, at puppy socials or socialization classes, or on a doggy playdate. These tend to be more controlled environments (excluding the dog park, more on those at another time) where the other dogs are appropriate for your dog to be playing with and the other owners have the same goal of socializing.
I want to stress points 1. And 5. A bit here. Getting permission to approach a strange or new dog is extremely important and can prevent potentially uncomfortable or dangerous situations for both the dog and owners.
The other thing I want to stress is that it is okay to say and be told ‘No’.
If you are approached and your dog is aggressive, unvaccinated, the moment isn’t appropriate, or you just don’t want to socialize you can tell the other person no, be firm in what you are saying, you can explain if you want but it isn’t necessary. If the other person can’t take no for an answer just take one for the team and walk away. It is okay if you occasionally come off as a bit or totally rude, you did what is necessary to protect you and your dog.
On the flip side if you are the person who was told ‘no’ the best thing to do is say ‘okay, no problem' or ‘maybe next time’ and go your separate ways.
However if your're that person who continues to approach or just never asked, sorry to be rude but you need to stop and be considerate of the other person. It is nothing to do with you, no one needs to make their dog say hi and not every dog is sociable. If you get told no it is okay, move along there will be other dogs to interact with. Just make sure to have permission before approaching so that you can stay safe.
(Remember any dog with teeth can and will bite)