As cities become increasingly dog friendly, we’re beginning to see more and more facilities and activities that invite well-behaved dogs to accompany their owners on outings. For those of us with four legged doggie friends that’s good news!

However, as with most good things, there can be a troublesome side. In this case, its on-leash, face-to-face meetings.

A leash is a type of barrier, just like a fence or crate is. Which means the leash can be a source of frustration or create a feeling of being “trapped” for some dogs. Feeling trapped can bring out defensiveness and reactivity in dogs that would be fine in off-leash situations.

The problem is, it can be impossible to tell how the meeting will go before the dogs are already nose-to-nose.

Here are a few tips to keep both ends of the leash happy!

  • If you don’t know the dog or owner that is approaching, its best to just move on. Keeping a distance of 6 feet or more can help keep excited or anxious dogs calm as you pass each other.


  • ALWAYS ask the owner if you’d like to meet an unfamiliar dog. Be prepared to politely respect the owners wishes if told “No”.


  • On the flip side, do not feel guilty for saying “No” to someone that asks to meet your dog if you feel uncomfortable for any reason.


  • If you are determined for the dogs to meet, choose a neutral space and start with side-by-side walking. This allows the dogs to get used to each other’s presence through sight, scent and energy. You can gradually reduce the distance between the dogs until they can meet.


  • Keep a loose leash when allowing dogs to meet. Tight leashes prevent dogs from meeting in a natural way and using correct canine body language. Dogs will usually approach each other in an arc and engage in the typical butt-to-nose sniffing ritual.

If at all in doubt, it’s best to just say “No” to the nose-to-nose!