Picture this. You’re taking a nice stroll in the park with your Miniature Schnauzer happily sniffing and exploring beside you. Suddenly, you see another dog approaching. Your Schnauzer instantly goes on alert and starts to move toward the other dog. You instinctively tighten the leash and tell him, “No! Be good,” in a tense tone of voice. Meanwhile the other dog is pulling toward your dog, and the other owner is also trying to pull his dog back. Barking erupts as the two dogs get closer, and you barely manage to pull your dog away and move on with your walk. Believe it or not, that scenario didn’t have to happen. There are many things you can do to reduce stress and set your dog up for success when greeting or passing other dogs.
Help your Miniature Schnauzer get it right
Meeting on leash can be stressful for many dogs. Leashes restrict natural greeting movements, and also prevent dogs from moving farther away when they’re feeling uncomfortable. And many dogs are under-socialized— if they didn’t get enough practice at this when they were puppies, they may struggle to master this social skill. To help your dog get his meet and greets right, follow these steps and rules.
What to do.
- Decide if it’s a good time for a meet & greet or whether it might be better to pass by. Look at your dog—does she look interested? Comfortable? Relaxed? Excited but not frantic? These are good signs. Look at the other dog for the same signs. If either dog seems to be shying away or trying to avoid contact, or appear intensely fixated on the other, take a pass. Look at the owner, too—do they seem comfortable? If they appear tense or nervous, there may be a reason and it might be better to pass.
- If you decide you’d like to try to say hello, ask the owner of the other dog if they are willing.
- Approach the other dog with a loose leash and calm, cheerful demeanor. Use happy talk to encourage your dog through the greeting.
- After three seconds, cheerfully tell your dog “Let’s go!,” turn around, and walk your dog away.
Meet & Greet rules.
- Never allow your dog to say hello to another dog unless both dogs seem interested and comfortable and you have the other owner’s permission.
- Keep the leash loose to allow your dog to move naturally, and to avoid adding tension to the situation.
- Keep meetings short. Follow the three second rule. Proximity and duration can be powder kegs in dog-dog relations, and here we have forced proximity by way of leashes, so it’s best to keep duration short.
If you’d rather pass.
- Use happy to talk to keep your dog focused on you as you pass by other dogs. A food lure can help, too, particularly if your dog seems uncomfortable or tends to react to other dogs by barking, lunging, growling, etc.
- Distance helps—if your dog needs extra help passing his fellow canines, keep an active scan on the environment and give other dogs a wider berth.
If you have a social butterfly, you can slowly allow your dog to enjoy longer meet & greets. But make sure the other dog is having a good time and seems relaxed, too.
There you have it! Greeting other dogs can be a challenge, especially for Miniature Schnauzers, but with proper socialization and training, you can be successful!