Above: Dog has a Martingale collar on. I address the benefits for dog walking with a Martingale in number three below.
It's always best to avoid frustrations while walking your dog, so you can enjoy the experience.
So even after 5 years as a pro and over 40 years as a dog owner in general, I am still baffled at this first situation.
I may never know why the other dog owner gets offended, and how to prevent them from doing so, when I request that two dogs don't "say hi" while walking past each other.
The slant of this article (and of me in general) is a bit sarcastic. Things are NOT always this bad on a regular basis out there on the streets with your dog. But this stuff DOES happen once in while, so I guess I'd rather have you prepared for it, then to not mention it at all. Mostly, dog ownership and being out among the humans is just fine.
I've had aggressive dogs and shy dogs. I've had dogs with kennel cough. I've just wanted to get home quickly and not socialize! So I just didn't want to interact with another dog.
I've seen cars coming and not wanted commotion and leash tangling in the middle of the road, so I declined offers to have them "say hi".
Even though the other person says "but they know each other", I know that dogs can act differently when both are on leash and being sort of restrained. ...And they can start gagging by their collar because they're pulling to get closer to "say hi", thereby making the experience not fun.
And, I've also just not liked the other person or not liked the other dog!
Insert the other Ka-trillion reasons here...the list goes on as to why sometimes it's not best to let the dogs say hi, and to continue past each other.
I get it. Dog owners want their dogs to socialize. That's totally cool. There are times and places for that. Dog parks, day care, play groups, etc.
If both parties agree to let them "say hi", fine. That's actually cool. I don't want to sound like a grump.
It can be totally OK to let them say hi sometimes while passing by. It's not like I NEVER want to do it. So again, I get it.
What I DON'T GET, is that the other owner gets offended and I feel like I have to tell them to "turn that frown upside down" and smile, and to not feel like they've been REJECTED!
Or that they keep advancing towards you even after you're showing clear body language and even telling them clearly that you'd rather not have them meet.
They and their dog are wonderful, I know. I just don't feel like letting the dogs "say hi". ...And I don't want to have to explain why--because they will never agree or understand your rationale anyway.
I've tried a TON of ways to just pass by with a quick explanation, but it never works. They NEVER just say, "Ok, no problem." They get offended.
So I just wear headphones that aren't even turned on (but I pretend they are). And I just smile and keep walking with CLEAR body language that I don't want to stop and say hi. Funny thing, most humans don't pick up on this...they still head towards you...even as you back up a small hill to avoid them!
And in the case of the image above, a mosquito net can work also if you want to give them the hint.
Or, I tell them that my dog has a highly contagious disease.
Or, I just put a bunch of words together in a sentence that make absolutely no sense, because they don't listen anyway.
"Why don't you want to have the dogs "say hi"? I'm offended!!!"
It happens to the best of us. We forget to grab a poop bag on the way out to a walk. The plastic dispenser attached to the leash is empty. The bag blows out of our pocket. You only took one bag, but your dog pooped twice. And so on.
After the initial shock wears off from knowing you're being watched and not having anything to pick up your dog's poop with, you must spring into action and improvise!
After all, it's better to avoid these kind of frustrations while walking your dog so you can enjoy your time out on the roads and trails.
Think about how much of a loser you think someone else is, when you see them just blatantly leave a dog poop with no care whatsoever. Don't be that person!
The best advice I can give, is to NOT act like it didn't happen. Show that you see it and you are going to do something about it.
I'm not saying you have to hold up a sign, just be a little demonstrative and point to it, nod (sort of saying, "I know, I know).
Then, you can find a stick or a piece of trash to just slide it over to the side, out the way of being stepped in. And return to pick it up after your walk.
You can look around, sort of with your hands up or scratching your head (again, just body language that you are going to do something about it.)
You don't have to do this, but I personally get really demonstrative and point at it, point at myself, point into the distance, do a loop around motion like I'm coming back, do a fake scoop up motion, etc.
Here, the "window watchers" or others looking on can still start to yell at you, but at least you can interrupt their "input" to tell them that's why you were just becoming a circus mime--that you know and you're on it...hence to histrionics!
Another way to show that you get it, which also helps if you need to return to pick it up later, is to mark it with a stick, rock, piece of nearby trash--even sort of cover it, but that it still stands out so it doesn't get stepped on, etc.
You may have to resort to the classic "fake pick up". Whether you know you're being watched or not, it can be effective to reach into your pocket, pretend that you pulled out a bag, and then lean down--sort of blocking others view so they can't tell--and make it look like you picked it up. BUT YOU HAVE RETURN to actually pick it up for real if you want to be ethical.
You can fake putting the bag in your pocket or like you're holding it inside your closed hand.
This technique only works well if anyone watching is sort of far away.
But again, definitely go back after and ACTUALLY pick it up!
Ok. Here's the advice to end all advice: Use your sock!!! I've actually done this. I have done it when the onlookers were close and I couldn't use the fake pick up (to return later and really pick it up), or the "move it to side with a stick" routine, or the "mark it with something" technique..
Sock are usually NOT expensive. And if the poop is sort of, well..."dry", it works fine.
I know. I know. Gross, right? This is certainly a last resort! But it's accomplishing the same result and I think humans can be a bit too stuck to convention sometimes. Think outside the box. It's really no big deal.
It's just social convention that makes it weird. If you don't get any on you, and it is effective, and you just lost a sock and that's it, then what's the real downside?
Again, this is a last resort to avoid someone basically threatening you.
The moral to the story is to just show some effort and that you're on the situation, no matter what technique you use.
Don't be that jerk who just walks away like it's no big deal.
And it's not just picking it up that can be an issue. It's also getting rid of it if you do happen to have a bag.
We touch on this issue, along with many more, in our Free Report: The Ugly Truth about what Your Neighbors Think of You as a Dog Owner.
You'll see me refer to the drunk angry man I'm about to tell you about, and others, as "window watchers". They come in all types! They're watching you from their homes like their windows are a movie screen, trust me!
This window watcher was actually about 80 years old, overweight, angry and a red-faced drunk in a red truck after he left his house to drive past me.
Out of the blue, he pulls up next to me and starts laying into me--and I had no idea why at first.
He then said that he wanted to "bury me alive" because he thought I threw a filled poop bag into his neighbor's yard.
Well, I did. BUT...it' where the dog that I was walking actually lived! And it landed right next to their trash barrels. And I was going to put it in the trash barrel when I finished walking the dog.
Did I mention it was lightly tossed into the driveway of the people who owned the dog? And that I was returning to put it in the trash?
We talk way more about how to avoid being buried alive because you did this, in our free report mentioned above.
Why carry the bag filled with dog poop for the entire walk that you just started, when you can just dispose of when you loop back around and return from your walk to the same place???
Picture that you're a half mile away from your home, you're on a busy street, and you are frozen and nervous...and so is your dog! But she's about to become unfrozen!
She's about to back out of her collar and possibly run into the road. If you pull her towards you, she may slip out of her collar and you've made the situation worse by pulling.
There are ways that I've dealt with this successfully.
Both the right equipment and the right technique can help.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a certified dog trainer by any means. What I mention is based on my own experience that I am simply relaying to you after years of walking dogs thousands of times. I advise that you hire a dog trainer to go over all the "official" ways to walk your dog on leash.
It's good to have a martingale collar and a slip leash either with you, or actually on the pooch--especially if you just got a dog and her behavior is new to you. Or...if you have a dog with a smaller head, like a hound, where slipping out of a collar is more likely.
A dog can get nervous on a busy street, around people, in a strange place, etc.
And they tend to stop short and can back up...thereby backing out of their collar.
And imagine if this starts to happen far away from your home.
A martingale collar has a "cinch" function. I believe it can be better than a "choke" collar or spiked prong collar in many situations.
It has two rings on it. One tightens if any pressure is applied (such as if the dog starts to back up). And the other acts like a ring on typical collars--does not tighten the grip when pressure is applied.
You can decide which ring to use based on behavior and situation.
And having a slip leash can be a good back up also. It tightens its grip if pressure is applied by pulling. It basically acts as a collar and leash in one.
They are typically light weight and can be carried in your pocket.
Or, if you have it on your dog during the walk, in addition to a regular leash, it doesn't have to be taught and pulling on the dog. It can have slack and just held for safety and back up sake.
Assuming I had at least a little room before oncoming traffic gets too close, I would sometimes go with the motion of the dog who may be trying to back our or stop short..instead of instinctively pulling in the opposite direction to drag her back.
If a dog that I walk backs up out of nervousness, I keep my arm extended and walk in the same direction.
So stay cool and have the right equipment with you and enjoy spending time with your pooch!
As I mentioned above, the slant of this article (and of me in general) is a bit sarcastic. Things are NOT always this bad on a regular basis out there on the streets with your dog. But this stuff DOES happen once in while, so I guess I'd rather have you prepared for it, then to not mention it at all. Mostly, dog ownership and being out among the humans is just fine.
I'm Brian Burke. After over 5 years of caring for dogs and other pets, Burke's maintains a perfect 5-star rating...and it's all because we love animals and love helping people. Contact us for dog walking, pet sitting and for advice and education on how to be the best pet owner.