Many times people ask me how they should introduce their dog to other dogs. They want to know whether it is better to introduce them on leash or off.
The answer to this question is quite simple. All dogs should meet each other off leash. Although this might sound dangerous the outcome is usually always positive.
Because dogs are highly sensitive creatures they will always pick up on bad vibes not only from their environment but also from you. If your dog is on a leash when meeting another dog and you are nervous or anxious your dog will automatically pick up on this through the leash. That will put your dog on edge with the other dog which could result in a fight.
Even if you don't have any concerns about your dog meeting another dog while he is on a leash your dog may have issues about the encounter itself. Even when the dogs are off leash there may be tensions between two new dogs meeting each other for the first time.
Another situation that can make your dog anxious is when entering a dog park while on a leash. The first step here is for you to take a look around at the other dogs in the park. Look at the way the dogs are interacting in the park. Try to pinpoint the hyperactive dogs and see whether they are making any of the other dogs nervous. Also check to see if the dog owners are aware of and in control of their dogs. If you are satisfied unhook your dog from its leash and enter the dog park. Now you hope that all encounters go smoothly while you are at the dog park. If not you should get control of your dog and immediately leave the dog park.
What you must realize is that all dogs are not dog-park material. There are many cases where veterinarians have had to patch up dog from bad encounters at the dog park and elsewhere. If your dog is friendly and well-socialized —and the park is full of others who are the same way — then dog parks are fine. Otherwise, you're better off finding other ways to get your pet the exercise he needs.
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