If you walk your dog in a relatively busy neighborhood or city, you will come across other dogs on leashes. It's so common that we created a game called "Polite Walk-bys" to help your pup practice not getting too excited by these encounters.

What's also common is someone asking if your dog can "meet" their dog, or worse yet, not being asked at all and another dog being led close in order to greet your dog.

While the intentions are always good, and in some instances even somewhat thought out (like "Hey, I want my dog to be comfortable around other dogs so I should make sure she meets lots of dogs"), the risk of a bad interaction far outweigh the perceived benefits.

That's why at Harper we highly discourage dogs greeting each other on walks.

This is true even if both dogs have a history of being great with other dogs, or both dogs somewhat know each other. A dog's behavior can change when she's on a leash, and two dogs who would play great together off-leash in a dog park might suddenly have tension when they're both leashed up meeting on a sidewalk.

Also, the leash takes away a dog's ability to react appropriately to tense circumstances. It might be hard for you to see that another dog is showing signs of anxiousness, but your adult dog will most likely notice it and being on a leash prevents them from backing away or otherwise diffusing the situation.

This healthy paranoia should go both ways too. Not only do you want to avoid your dog being bitten, but you want to make sure your dog isn't the one getting scared and doing the biting.

The easiest way to avoid that is to avoid dogs meeting while on leash.

If someone asks, it's okay to say "They probably shouldn't meet." In our experience, this always works. It's a bit trickier when the person doesn't ask or the other dog is off-leash. The best thing you can do in those instances is to make sure your pup is as comfortable around other dogs as he can be.