If someone asks you to put your dog on the lead, it probably has nothing to with you or your dog. They are not trying to say that your dog is being unfriendly or out of control. Please do not take it personally. There are lots of reasons why they could be asking, such as:
- They or their dog might be nervous
- They or their dog might be injured/older/just had an operation/unwell
- Their dog might have reached their stress threshold or just had another scary incident
When people ask other owners to put their dogs on leads, it is a request for support, and they will be grateful and relieved when you do what is being asked. They do not want your advice or opinion on their dog, they are working on the training and are in the best position to make decisions about their dog. Being judged by someone who has only seen a snapshot of their dog’s behaviour in a difficult situation is upsetting and demoralising for owners. It can really impact their confidence to have someone criticise their beloved pet who may be a rescue, have had a traumatic experience or be in pain. I spend a lot of my time trying to reassure owners that they are doing a great job and to keep going with the training. We never know what is happening in other people’s lives or pets, it is very easy to judge.
Lots of people try to give struggling owners advice, although the owners know people mean well, it often can be misinterpreted as criticism. Instead, perhaps just give a struggling owner some moral support, tell them how well they are doing or ask them how you can help. They might really appreciate your dog standing several feet away from their dog for a short period of time. If you are lucky enough to have a sociable dog who enjoys playing with other people and dogs, it is worth remembering that one random (or several) dog fight(s) or scary event(s) can turn the most delightful dog into a fearful, anxious dog.
We all love seeing dogs running around a field and if they can play with their friends, even better. When you see a dog that you do not know or have not met before it is always worth just checking your dog in or putting them on the lead before checking if they can play. The other dog owners will really appreciate your consideration and it will probably lead to nicer plays for your dog. Everyone wins.
Lets all support each other so our dogs can have the best experiences and enjoy their walks.