We've realized one of the most important elements is that our dogs never greet each other; we always have about a leash-length of space between dogs. We know people have different philosophies about dog greetings, and since we had been getting several questions about it, we thought we would share why this is so important to us, along with photos of our latest walk.
Helping the Dogs Relax
this great article from Our Pack made me realize how unnatural and uncomfortable these types of greetings can be.
Especially in our group, being around other dogs can be exciting enough, so it is important to keep everything low-key so we can have a stability. When the dogs learn that they won't be greeting one another, it lessens the anxiety and overall excitement levels allowing us to walk together as a calm pack.
Learning Restraint and Positive Social Interactions
When we take the pooches on our daily walks around Chicago, we probably encounter at least 10-20 other dogs during our walk. I've found when our pooches are allowed to meet other dogs, they are conditioned to drag us to meet EVERY dog they see. Besides being respectful of dogs who need space and not knowing if other dogs are friendly...this can be time consuming; I need to get to work in the morning!
We've also found that most of the time when dogs do greet, they typically initiate play. This causes leashes to get tangled or dropped and people and dogs to potentially be injured.
SociaBulls has become a good place where many of us are practicing restraint, being positive dog ambassadors, and learning that just because we see a dog, you don't need to meet it. It's nice to know that this is a place where we don't have to be anxious about someone approaching us while also keeping group energy levels down.
Creating a Positive Experience for Everyone
We also like to remind people our group walks are just a piece of dog socialization, and there are many other types of positive supervised activities where pooches do have the chance to directly interact.
These are just our experiences and reasons why our SociaBulls group decided not to have dog greetings. How does everyone else handle dog greetings? (and I know many people feel strongly one way or the other...so be nice!)
Fantastic advice about starting and structuring your own dog-walking group.
A SociaBulls member learning when it's not time to play.
Join our Chicago SociaBulls Facebook page for more photos and information about group walks. And check out the Hikabulls page where we first learned about the benefits of group walking.
Please Note: As the weather has warmed up, bikers, runners, dogs, and kids have come out in full force in many of the areas that we walk. While we had previously been introducing new members a few at a time to each walk, we've decided that in order to continue to keep our group safe and make our walks a positive experience for everyone, we are putting new members "on hold" for the summer. You can still submit an application, and it will go on our wait list in the order it is received. Once things quiet down a bit more in the fall, we will resume introducing new members a few at a time to each walk, and will be contacting people on the wait list in a first-come, first-served manner.