Why dogs should never meet face-to-face on leash, according to an expert

Two dogs on leash greeting each other in the street
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.

Do you let your canine companion greet other dogs when they're on-leash? If so, one expert trainer says you could unknowingly be setting the stage for trouble. 

Even the friendliest of dogs who normally wouldn't hurt a fly when happily playing with the best puppy toys, can start growling, lunging, or even fighting when a greeting with another dog is set up incorrectly.

Rather than trying to figure out how to tackle dog aggression, it's easier to prevent it from happening in the first place by making sure the environment is conducive to calm behavior. 

And a part of this making sure that if you're going to let your dog greet another dog while both are on a leash, that this is done correctly.

"Proper greetings allow dogs to move freely and naturally, with relaxed bodies, through the greeting ritual," explains Carolyn, the founder and header trainer at Good Dog Training

Read on to find out more...

Carolyn says that there are two main problems with leashed greetings:

1. No one does them properly: "Dogs should never go nose to nose on tight leashes," she says. "They go into this social interaction frustrated and full of adrenaline with the tense, forward-leaning body posture indicative of aggression and are prevented from performing a polite greeting ritual by their tight leash."

2. It leads to fights: "Instead of being able to politely sniff heads and then move to the rear area, dogs are stuck in this nose-to-nose position with tension mounting until there's a fight," explains Carolyn.

"And the owners are then stunned that their friendly dogs would react in such a way, not realizing it was the humans who messed it all up."

Carolyn says that when it comes to leashed greetings, it's important to do it right or not do it at all.

"Dogs should be on loose leashes with relaxed bodies," she advises. "As dogs spin and circle each other, owners should be too. 

"Leashes should stay loose and untangled, and greetings should be short — under five seconds.

"Owners should watch the dog for signs of tension or stress and immediately call their dog away at the first sign."

Remember, your dog doesn't need to greet other dogs and they should be able to calmly pass other dogs before you consider a leashed greeting. 

It's also important to always ask the owner of another dog if it's okay for your pup to greet their's before you approach. 

For more great training advice, check out our guide to three of the most common loose leash walking mistakes (and how to fix them)

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Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.