we were having a nice pitcher of beer with a friend on the patio of a dog friendly establishment. we'd been there for a while- dogs went by on the sidewalk, people came up and loved up the pups, the folks at the restaurant brought them treats- it was such a nice start to a holiday weekend to hang in the sun and have a drink or two.
then came the folks with the young male lab who had to sit 3 tables away from us. with plenty of patio space, but ok, our dogs were being good- until they let go of the leash so he could wander. i asked them not to let the dog come up to our table. ignored. echo took it as long as he could and finally got in the dog's face. barking getting in his face. nothing more. but suddenly OMG! we're getting dirty looks because my dog reacted appropriately to a dog that invaded his territory, who was off leash when echo was on leash, and who had echo cornered, even though we had asked the dog's owners to keep him away.
i have been a clueless dog owner (i admit it, which is the first step to changing things) i do my best to be responsible and respectful. i am always sorry that i don't know the magic thing to say in these situations, but the adrenaline starts and besides there is no way to teach anyone anything unless they are ready to learn it.
so when the girls looked at echo horrified i told them not to glare at my dog when their loveable lab really caused the issue. impressed? me too. i really need to learn how to shut up.
the bottom line is that it is never a good idea to let your dog approach other people or dogs without checking. some people are scared of dogs. some people just don't like dogs. some dogs don't like some other dogs. some breeds are more territorial than others.
if someone asks you to keep your dog back, or if a dog is on leash or off the trail or otherwise restrained- keep your dog away.
anyway- it all ends up being about respect, and listening to other people. i do not claim to be perfect, but i do try to listen and to be respectful.