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Without a doubt, gaze and eye contact are highly important to dogs. They use eye contact in various forms to communicate with us and with other animals. We know that many dogs naturally follow our gaze to distant objects (i.e., as a form of pointing) and that dogs will seek our eye contact when looking for a bit of help. And now we know that dogs, like humans and several other social species, can be aware of what a person may or may not be able to see and, on some level, are capable of taking that person’s perspective into consideration.
Being approached by loose dogs, especially when my dogs are on leash, is my least-favorite experience as a dog owner. When we’re walking in a public place, such as a beach or park, I can usually identify the owner and ask that he please wrangle his dog. Of course, this request may be met with varying responses, ranging from appropriately apologetic for their dog having invaded our space, to accusatory, suggesting I am the problem for not allowing my dogs to roam free and socialize. But as uncomfortable as it may be to deal with unpleasant dog owners, it can be even worse to deal with a loose dog whose owner is nowhere in sight!
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