It’s new, this widespread practice of people and their dogs socially distancing from others while on walks. Though not pleasing to everyone, I think a lot of good has come from this particular societal change. I have long believed that random on-leash greetings can be problematic.

Some dogs—even those who get along well with others when off-leash—don’t like to be greeted when they’re on-leash and unable to decline the opportunity. Other dogs are pushy, which ruins the experience for those they greet. Plenty of dogs are cautious and would rather just walk on by.

Perhaps the biggest issue is that many owners do not recognize the signs of distress, anxiety, nervousness or fear in their dogs during a greeting that isn’t going well. Instead of removing their dogs from a situation that’s upsetting them, they remain in place. As behavioral geneticist Alice Moon-Fanelli, PhD,…

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