On Leash Meetings: A Bad Idea?

A man walking a dog on a leash through a foggy forest

When our walkers take a client’s dog out for a walk, we advise them never to chance any sort of on leash meeting with another dog or a person. On leash meetings can put a dog in an uncomfortable situation, and may cause a dog to respond poorly or negatively to the person they are meeting. Since we may not be entirely aware of how a dog may act as “just” walkers, rather than take the chance, we opt not to cause a situation to begin with.

On Leash Meetings Can Cause Pressure

Have you ever felt so stressed or anxious that you just wanted to leave a room? Chances are you had the ability to do that. Most of the times we are not physically tethered down to meet someone or do something. For a dog on a leash, an on leash meeting strips the dog of his or her ability to walk away, meaning if they dislike something about a person or a dog, they can’t escape. This is why it’s so important at places like dog parks that dogs are removed from leashes, allowing them the ability to freely roam and escape from a poor or potentially dangerous situation.

Since your dog can’t move more than six feet or so away from you, he or she might get into a habit of instead lunging, growling, or barking to make it so no one will approach. While not all dogs act like this, dogs that may feel “trapped” by their leash during an on leash meeting can have the potential to act out when they feel threatened.

Conditioning Excitement in a Dog by Letting them Meet

Even if your dog does not exhibit any sort of aggressive tendencies, a happy, joyful dog who is into social interaction can have difficulties with on leash meetings. The problem is that if we let our dogs meet every single dog they see on their walk, then we are potentially teaching them to “get excited” any time they see another dog. This can result in… You guessed it! Barking, pulling, jumping, and overall poor control of a dog on a leash. Instead, teaching your dog to “leave it” or keep walking can help control your dog’s excitement around seeing other dogs or even other animals and people.

Who is on the other end?

Finally, do we know who the other person or dog is we are bringing to our on leash meeting? We don’t know if the dog that you are going to meet might be aggressive himself or find something unsatisfactory about you or your dog. Not only are you putting your dog at risk for a scratch, bite, or something worse, you’re also putting yourself at risk of getting tangled in a leash and falling, scratched, bitten, or even losing control of your dog and letting him or her loose with your on leash meeting. It’s better to just avoid it completely.

While you can’t control if a loose dog runs up to your dog on a leash to say hi, controlling on leash meetings and keeping them to a minimum can help you avoid conflict between your dog and another.