If you take your dog out in public, it’s going to happen eventually. It’s inevitable. Somebody is going to run up and grab your dog. Pet your dog. Maybe take its picture. And while you may force a smile or try to make the best out of what could be a bad situation, let’s face it, we know you are thinking one (or two) of the following things.
Are you the dog lover on the other end of the leash? We GET IT! And we love that you think our dog is cute. But sometimes our cute dog is not so friendly and we are worried about YOUR safety. Think of this as a “what not to do” next time you see an adorable dog coming your way. The owner and the dog will both appreciate it!
1 – She’s headed straight for us, hand already out stretched, no intention of asking first I bet!
And unfortunately, nine times out of ten, the dog owner’s thoughts are right. The dog lover approaches, arm outstretched towards the dog’s head (and teeth!) without a thought in the world.
2 – CRAP!! Is there an escape route nearby?
Those of us with dogs that do not like to be petted know this feeling all too well. You see the person coming and you know your only chance is if you can move your dog before the stranger’s hand comes within teeth range.
3 – Why don’t they EVER believe me when I say ‘He’s not friendly’??
Why would we make that up? We continue to think as our vocal words of “he’s not friendly! Stay back! He doesn’t want to greet!” seems to fall on deaf ears. It’s frustrating because we are just trying to keep the stranger safe.
4 – Great. Now I am LATE for my appointment – when will this person go away so my dog can pee?
Even if you have gotten permission from the owner to say hi, don’t set up camp. A quick pet under the chin is enough. They have lives too and they don’t revolve around you getting your doggy fix.
5 – This person must have missed the day in school where they taught “GENTLE”!
The best way to pet a dog is to crouch down next to (not in front of), and pet them under their chin or around their neck and under their ears (most dogs like ear scratches). Bending over a dog, going for the top of the head and patting instead of stroking can all lead to bites.
6 – Since when does my dog have Paparazzi?
You see a cool dog. Maybe it’s a pretty color, a rare breed, or your favorite one. You really want to take a picture to show the world. But before you snap a selfie, ask the owner. They may find it rude that you are taking pictures of their dog (and possible them!) without permission.
7 – This one’s not EVEN going to acknowledge I’m alive
We understand being excited about seeing a cute dog. After all, we love dogs too. But the polite thing to do is to pause and talk to the person holding the leash as well.
8 – If one more person calls her a “MINI COLLIE” I might explode
Yes, it might seem like over-reacting, but when a dog owner has had their dog mistaken for another breed (or one that doesn’t exist like a mini collie) for years, it can try the patience. Better to ask a dog owner what breed their dog is, than to assume. Many find a mislabel insulting (we dog owners are a sensitive lot!)
9 – Try to pick up my dog one more time, I DARE YOU!
Little dogs fall victim to this all the time. A stranger sees a cute Chihuahua or the like, and stoops down to immediately pick them up, without even thinking about it. But they should think about it. Some small dogs will bite if a stranger tries to pick them up. Again, it comes down to safety, but also respect for the dog and his owner.
10 – Maybe if I don’t make eye contact, speed up, and change direction I can avoid that person walking straight at me like they are on a mission. CRAP! They changed direction to keep coming at me. Maybe if I go the opposite direction…??
Sometimes, we may be walking our dogs because we needed to get away. To relax. Or maybe we are more introverted and prefer the silent company of our dogs to other humans. Maybe we have exactly five minutes to potty our dog before we have to go to work. Our dog shouldn’t be an open invitation to approach us. Be respectful of those giving obvious signs they do not want to interact. It’s the polite thing to do.
There are millions of dogs in the world, you are sure to find one to pet at some point. Just maybe not this one. Follow this advice and you will find dog owners will be much nicer to you in return.