Unfamiliar Dogs and Etiquette

We were wandering along the path returning from our walk, enjoying some crisp afternoon sunshine.  Jake and Truly were busy savouring squirrel smells. Just as we rounded the corner, there was a large mixed breed male dog stood sniffing in a hedge (probably also savouring the smells of busy squirrels). No owner in sight, and no signs of a collar or a lead.

Given Truly isn’t hugely welcoming to dogs nowadays, I tend to give them a wide berth. I’ve talked before about how annoying it is when other people have no control of their dogs and let them bounce all over you and yours shouting “it’s okay they’re friendly” Grrrr. But what to do when there’s no owner present at all?

At first glance it was difficult to see all of the dog, a dominant dog will often display aroused body language such as standing square, erect ears, a straight back, tail held straight and high. I didn’t really want to hang around to practice impromptu dog behavioural analysis, so my first concern was getting Jake and Truly away.

I avoided looking directly at the dog, and thankfully Truly hadn’t noticed him. We were able to move off sideways (never turn your back), and slowly move away. The dog didn’t follow us, so after settling Jake and Truly at home I went back out to look for him with my phone and a spare lead. There was no sign of him. I subsequently checked for reports on DogLost, as well as our local facebook page. I hadn’t seen the dog before, so I can only hope he found his owner and got safely home.

What to do

If you find yourself facing an unfamiliar dog and want to know what to do, you can read some advice from the RSPCA here.

Healthy dog interactions

Dogs Trust also offer advice on healthy dog communication and what to look for here.

And to read about manners (human and dog), Victoria Stillwell has an article on dog etiquette here.

Until next time




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