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  • Writer's pictureSarah Smillie

'Its okay he's friendly' and why its not okay

With dogs in yellow awareness day just passed it seemed important to discuss the new ‘its okay he’s friendly’ craze that has been about and why its not okay.

Every dog has the right to explore the world without the worry of unwanted interactions. There are so many reasons dogs and owners may not want a dog approaching and as an owner with a friendly off lead dog it is important to respect those wishes regardless of why.

Some reasons apart from the obvious nervous or reactive behaviours that people may not consider include dogs recovery from surgery and dogs that are in training, whether that be to support a humans needs as an assistance animal or just to further their own dogs learning.

A dog should not be off lead unless they can recall back to you when asked and that includes from distractions. By not being able to you will be putting your dog and the other dog at risk. If you are not sure a long line will be your best friend giving your dog freedom to explore and test that all important recall while remaining safe.

Recall tips

Recall is hard and doesn’t happen overnight. It takes lots of practice and consistency. Below are a few tips to help you get started on your recall journey.

  • Find something your dog wants to work for. Not every dog likes the same thing so mix it up balls, squeaky toys, hotdogs, fish, cheese.

  • Start in the house in a low distracting environment

  • Find a word or whistle which you are going to use. I recommend using a word that they don’t hear often staying away from their name is better instead use words like ‘come’ ‘here’ etc.

  • Now its time to build up that word association. Say the chosen word and give them a treat and repeat.

  • Start building up distance and encouraging movement towards you.

  • Now its time to start building up distance and distractions

Remember time and consistency are key

How to deal with an ‘its okay he’s friendly dog’

Now you have a dog that struggles with interactions and you have an off lead dog approaching what do you do.

  • Don’t panic. Take a moment to think about what you can do in that situation. As soon as you start shouting tensing making jerking movements your own dog is going to start to panic too.

  • Make yourself big and put your dog behind you if possible to create a barrier

  • Strong firm words such as ‘no’ often work to move the approaching dog away.

  • Using common commands to control that dog from a distance such as ‘sit’ can often help too

  • Scatter feeding - throw high value treats away from you and encourage that dog to engage in something other than your dog giving you a bit of time to get the owner attention.

  • After the interaction think about what you can do with your dog to remove the stress (sniffy games, toy games)

If you struggle with either recall or reactivity get in touch to book a session in

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