Dogs, like people, have wildly disparate personalities. For every happy-go-lucky terrier, there is a timid and shy mutt. Each high-energy hound is balanced by a calm and mellow canine.
My dog, Dexy, is an extremely extroverted and friendly boxer. On our walks, however, we occasionally encounter dogs that are, shall we say, more on the unfriendly side. Sometimes, they’re out and out aggressive.
Usually, I can tell from the dog’s attitude – and more important, from the owner’s body language – if Dexy and I should keep our distance. The thing I have never understood is that these owners are perfectly aware that their dog is hostile toward my boxer, and yet they often make the strangest decision about how to avoid a confrontation: They stop walking.
Even if they pull over to let us pass, the dog strains at the leash more intently with each step that Dexy and I take toward him. He has plenty of time to focus on us (because, after all, he’s not moving), and he makes searing eye contact. As we close in, he begins growling, frequently developing a full-throated bark by the time we squeeze past him.
The point is that allowing your dog more time to focus on a potential threat is not the wisest thing to do. In case you have an unfriendly dog, it is much more beneficial for everyone involved if you continue walking. Pull him along and shorten the amount of time that he can size up a rival. Standing around and bracing yourself for a confrontation increases the odds that such unpleasantness will indeed break out.
It’s a lot like life. The bad things go by more quickly if we just keep moving forward.
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