It was just one of those days guaranteed to make me wish it were tomorrow.
We know Luke is a special needs boy. He tries really hard - his obedience is impeccable when his brain is actually functioning at maximum potential. The problem is that his arousal level is not actually under his own control, and when certain things happen, well, he just can't keep it together. These days the most common problem is imminent close proximity of another, uncontrolled, dog. We have been assiduous in keeping him safe, and he can walk right next to other dogs without turning a canine hair. But that doesn't mean he can handle a "friendly" straight on approach from another dog. He needs a careful, slow introduction to make a good friend.
We have an arsenal of alternate behaviors for him. Quick turns, watches, find its, etc. At this point, I think he counts on us to get him out of a tricky situation. Yesterday, there were two. The first was on a neighborhood street. A man was walking his two dogs - one on leash the other off. We turned a corner and saw them. As the off leash dog joyfully advanced, Luke and I immediately turned to go the other direction, and I shouted to the man that "this dog is NOT friendly." As usual, he didn't quite get it, but my rapid retreat probably hastened his understanding. He started following his own dog, trying to get him (or her) back. An onlooker would have seen a somewhat amusing situation - a middle aged woman walking rapidly with her black and white dog, followed by a chocolate lab, followed by a man dragging a Golden Retriever on leash. I stopped and tossed treats to the lab, who seemed to think that Christmas had arrived. Luke was a bit nervous, but held himself together well. We played games all the way home, so he could cover up that memory with other ones.
Then, later in the day, we were walking up a hill near our home. This time I had our three dogs. A woman with her dog turned a corner, heading towards us. She was on the phone. The dogs and I turned around, and she waved in a desultory fashion and kept coming - plainly not seeing what was going on, even though I shouted at her that this dog wasn't friendly. It probably complicated things no end that the other two dogs obviously were friendly. Again, there was no aggressive incident, and the rest of our walk passed calmly enough.
When you have a dog that doesn't deal well with strange dogs, life on the outside can be fraught with anxiety and peril. No corner is safe, every open garage is suspect. Instead of enjoying a relaxing time with your canine companion, you're constantly on the lookout for "friendly" dogs. And indeed they are friendly, and social, and sometimes downright rude. For a dog with space issues, they are invasive and scary. It's as though a person you don't know and who looks a bit intimidating rushes towards you to give you a big, friendly hug! We humans probably wouldn't like that at all.
There are many dogs with space issues, probably more than you suspect. And all we would like is for other people to look around them, checking the environment for oncoming dogs. If they see one on leash, the polite thing to do is leash their own dog - that gets rid of potential problems quite nicely. As an adjunct to that, I actually hold up my leash to show the oncoming person that my dog is leashed, and hopefully to communicate that there is a reason for this.
Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.