I don’t know about you guys, but I think there is!
There seems to be a huge difference in walking the dogs when it is just Kevin, the both of us, or just me.
When Kevin is the only one walking them, he’s lucky if he gets a ‘Hello’ from people. Their reactions range from: ignoring him and the dogs, the slightest sign of acknowledgment (a courtesy nod), to downright fear and avoidance (getting off the path and giving about six to eight feet of space while passing)!
When we both walk the dogs, those same people will smile and nod, possibly give us a ‘How are you today?’, and occasionally (usually on really nice days) stop and ask us about the pups or if they can pet them.
It is like people’s common sense about meeting dogs goes right out the window and prompts them to behave in a risky manner.
Two such examples of this behavior happened on my solo walk with the ‘girls’ (Willow and Chloe) just this past Saturday.
We got out of the truck just as group of kids (late teens maybe early twenties) were starting to walk up the sidewalk, so I crossed the sidewalk into the grassy area of the park with the girls to let them check their pee-mail before we started our walk and to let the kids pass by. Well, they passed us, and just then the one guy in the group decides that he just HAS to pet Willow. So he whips around walks right up to the girls while they were sniffing and squats between the two of them, and proceeds to pet Willow. Just as he gets up to rejoin his group, he says: ‘Pretty dogs’ then walks off. The girls of course are used to being pet by strange people so they aren’t bothered by this at all, but I am.
The next issue happened not but a few minutes later, this time while the girls and I were passing this group. I anticipated someone else might do something stupid, so I wasn’t lolligaggin’ around, the girls were on a short leash, and I was bookin’ it (well, as fast as I could wearing boots and without looking rude or causing others to become startled).
This time one of the girls in the group (that we hadn’t managed to pass yet) decides she wants to pet Willow. Instead of the normal hand at nose height and slow approach, this girl has her hand up at about chest height and is coming at us at about the same speed we are walking to get passed them.
Willow sees the hand, and since she has been trained in ‘hand targeting’ she goes to do what she’s supposed to do, which is lightly touch the hand with her nose (in this case that means she has to jump for it). I didn’t have time to react, so the girl, not realizing Willow is just doing what she’s trained to do, snatches her hand back. The girl didn’t even give me a chance to tell her to lower her hand if she wants to pet, before she did the SAME thing AGAIN! So Willow responds accordingly, this time I did manage to react, I pulled Willow back enough to give me time to explain she’s trained to do that, she won’t bite. Now, finally the girl gets it, and lowers her hand to let Willow sniff her, then proceeds to pet Willow. As soon as she was finished petting Willow, I shortened up the leashes even more and took off down the trail at just a hair under a jog.
Seriously? Neither of them asked to pet, the guy just dove in and got down at eye level, and the girl obviously didn’t know anything about dogs.
They were both VERY lucky that it was my dogs they did that to, I don’t know of too many dogs that would have responded that well to being surprised, or who would have seen a hand over their head as a command instead of a threat.
And that is just a sample of what I go through when I walk the dogs. I encounter someone being stupid almost every time I walk the dogs solo, never does anything similar to that happen when I’m with Kevin, or when Kevin walks them solo.
Does anyone else notice a difference in peoples interactions with their dogs when they have company walking them, or when someone else walks their dogs for them? Please tell me we aren’t the only ones encountering this!