Handling Tips for Public Appearances
Keeping your pup socialized and active is important to their physical and mental well-being. But when it comes to being out in public with our dogs, it can get more difficult to keep your dog under control. You may also find yourself wanting to interact with other people’s dogs, because who can resist petting a sweet looking dog? To follow up on last month’s article about leashes, collars & harnesses, we’ve put together some tips to make public outings a safe and fun experience for all!
Controlling your dog
Keeping your pet under control is the most important objective, and that starts with having the right collar/harness and leash combination. For example, an excited dog on a retractable leash will tangle the cord, themselves, you and possibly others. This is also important because any sudden noise or distraction could get their attention causing them to bolt. Some dogs have different triggers, such as bikers or large trucks, so it’s helpful to understand what those are so you can be prepared in any situation or environment.
Some dogs don’t interact well with others when on a leash, so other dog owners really appreciate it if you ask if your dog can meet theirs, before letting them get too close.
If your dog is barking or jumping at strangers, you can distract them by asking them to “sit” and rewarding them with a treat! This redirects their focus and gives you an opportunity to teach good manners. So keep a pocketful of their favorite snacks on hand.
Interacting with other dogs
If you can, make eye contact with a person to let them know you’re approaching instead of walking up on them or their dog from behind. Greeting dogs abruptly can be a startling experience for them, so let dogs come to you to say hi first. Always ask the owner if you can pet their dog. Some dogs may be in training or need to be approached a specific way.
When approaching to greet a dog, be aware of your size. The taller and louder you are, the more intimidating you may seem to a dog. Try positioning yourself sideways to seem smaller. If the dog is small, kneeling is a great way to get on their level, especially for those who seem timid. If they seem to be uncomfortable, it’s best not to force it, as they are warning you how they feel about the situation. You should mirror the dog’s reaction. If they seem excited and happy to see you, you can react cheerfully for them. If they seem hesitant, a neutral demeanor would be best.
Another thing to keep in mind is that because dogs have an amazing sense of smell, you don’t need to reach your hand out toward their face as a greeting. A safer way of communicating is to keep your hands at your side and wait for them to come to you!