Dogs on leads can be particularly growly. This I know. Teddy is as guilty of it as the next grumpy dog. I might not go so far as call in dog lead aggression, but who knows where it’s headed?
I’m trying to nip it in the bud. If I see some argy-bargy brewing with an oncoming dog, I might pull out a treat and try to distract Teddy. Failing that, I’ll start talking to the oncoming dog and its walker. “Good morning. Hello Labrador,” I might say. “Do you want to say hello to Teddy?”
I will be calm, friendly and smile as I speak (I once had training for speaking on radio, and one thing really stuck: you can hear a smile). I realise that this marks me out as a bit of a loon – in London few people pass the time of day with strangers – but this is my attempt at making Teddy see that I don’t feel threatened, that he has no need to protect me, or warn anyone off.
Turns out I might be on to something, which is a relief – if you’re going to embarrass yourself you might as well get results.
There is an article in today’s Guardian Your Enemy’s Enemy is Your Dog, Scientists Find that quotes Japanese research: “Dogs do not like people who are mean to their owners,” and will, “Refuse food offered by people that have snubbed their master.”
I may be joining too many dots here, but my thought is that dogs should therefore feel more at ease with those who are considered ‘friends’. I shall continue my policy of polite welcome to all dogs and their owners. I’ll let you know how it goes.