Barking dogs are generally not happy to see you
Most urban dog walkers have found a relatively reliable route to walk our dogs. Not too many surprises, not too many regular loose dogs, good strong fences, and that causes a routine path for your walks. Not a bad thing at all. There are things to know about having a regular route.
First, keep in mind that your dog, as well as other dogs, think that their job is protecting their owners and their property. So when you hear another dog barking at a fence line or in a living room window, don’t allow your dog to move into their yard or run up to their fence – you are threatening the confined dog. It does not matter that you are a “dog person” or that “your dog is friendly”, you are a threat.
I have heard people say “But they love to bark at each other, they look forward to it” No they don’t. You would not look forward to a potential burglar or a potential predator threatening and taunting you every day. There is a difference between dogs being social and dogs being reactive. The dogs on the inside are in a defensive mode.
Keeping that in mind, it is helpful to move your dog away from other agitated dogs and their property. Make a conscious effort to move your dogs across the street out of what the other dog could perceive as a threat to their territory.
You can’t avoid every dog at every fence and every window, but you can make a decision to make more space for the confined dogs. And you can definitely make a decision to stay on the sidewalk and not allow your dog to move up into their yard. Your dog doesn’t have to sniff every spot to have an enjoyable walk; they don’t have to run up to every fence. Walks can be fun adventures without agitating the other confined dogs on your route.
As you consider this, think about the mailman. The mailman is the dog’s legendary nemesis. The reason for this is EVERYDAY the mailman steps onto the dog’s property with intent, walks straight up to the front door, the dogs starts a defensive, aggressive bark at the mailman, the mailman turns and leaves. The dog is victorious.
The dog has learned that when you act defensive and aggressive at your door, the predator will leave, Rinse repeat. Rinse repeat. Rinse repeat. 312 days a year. No wonder they hate each other. Check out the modern walking mailman’s uniform – it has at least 3 cans of mace. Mailman knows when an agitated dog gets out, from a fence, from an accidentally open gate, through a window, or just out the front door, you had better be prepared!
Now that you have the dog vs mailman POV, imagine you and your dog as predatory threat that walks up to the fence or on an extended leash up into the front yard everyday – over and over every day. Just like the mailman, the dogs can hear you coming a mile away. You are now public enemy number two behind the mailman. Keep this in your mind and make conscious decisions to make more space for the confined dogs on your walk.
Space for walking dogs
Sometimes when we take our dogs out for a walk, we completely forget what our own dogs have been doing all day, My dog’s big important job is to sit in the window all day and bark at anything that goes by. She takes her job very seriously.
Mailman and the neighbor’s cat are repelled with life threatening enthusiasm. When Chankla see the routine walkers that pass her window on a daily basis, she has a special bark for them. So when she goes on her walk, she is especially reactive to the regular suspects that walk by her window.These dogs are mostly dogs and neighbors that I know by name, but Chankla has names for them too. Like, “that shady little shepherd that always comes up into the yard while his owner talks on the phone – I always bark and make them go away” or “that cow dog always takes her time smelling everything in my yard- I always say get out of my yard you dog, although I really like her Mom, I still bark at her, really hard.” And “Oh that little weasely Chihuahua – she is never on a leash, when I catch her, ooooh I’m going to give something to talk about”
When two dogs pass each other on a walk, imagine that one dog has been sitting behind his fence barking at the other dog and that he knows the other dog from that relationship. When they finally see each other on the street, the reaction can be more like “ooh that guy – I’ve been waiting for you!.”
Neighborhood dogs have their own little microcosm and we should try to understand their jobs and needs. Sometimes that need is just a little space.
Not all dogs want to say hello on a walk. As we touched on earlier, it is not a natural way for dogs to greet each other. For many reasons, not all dogs are comfortable meeting strange dogs while on leash.
Which brings us to our next post DINOS (Dogs in Need of Space)…