Silas’s favorite park in the UNIVERSE!! is actually a terrible park for dogs.
The paths are narrow, and there is either heavy underbrush or water on both sides of the trail.
Those narrow trails make it really hard to meet people or dogs. They come around blind corners, and you have no choice (unless you get lucky and are in a rare clearing) but to meet them head on. This is setting dogs, especially, up for disaster. Let two dogs, even dogs who are decent with other dogs, walk directly toward each other in a confined environment, and somebody is likely to react.
It took me a long time to learn to trust my instincts and to not worry about other people’s feelings in situations like this. If I’m meeting your dog head on, and he’s not 100% friendly (by my judgment, not yours), I’m going to do what I think is necessary. Silas is on the skittish-but-okay side with other dogs, and I’d like him to not collect evidence that other dogs are terrible.
Tuesday we met a little Schnauzer. When we were still quite a distance away little Schnauzer let out a little bark. Just one. And I instantly turned around and walked as fast as my legs would carry me back to the last trail junction, where Silas and I could wait for them to pass. (Bless Silas’s heart, he was so good. He walked right away, stayed with me without stopping, and then stood with me on the “scary” trail.)
It probably hurt Schnauzer “mom’s” feelings or embarrassed her. I know how women are. But I didn’t have time to explain, to blame the design of the park. I didn’t think her dog was going to attack Silas. We weren’t afraid of him. But you have to do what you have to do, and sometimes avoidance is really the best thing.