Sunday, July 10, 2011

No, You Can't Pet My Dog!

I am a pleaser.  It makes me happy to please someone.  I find it hard to say no.  It is guilt, guilt drives me to do things I would prefer not. 

If someone asks me "Can I pet your dog"

It will be me with a firm.  "I am sorry, no."

I don't care if they give me that 'look'.  You know the 'look'...the 'look' that says you just deprived their precious child from an experience.  It is usually followed with the child whining - begging mommy or daddy for the right to pet the doggie.  Then Mommy or Daddy look at you and project heaps of guilt in your general direction - because it is YOUR fault their child is upset.

I don't give a rip.  I will hold my ground and protect my dog. 

That is the gist of dog needs me to protect them.

Think how upset their precious child will be with tooth punctures and lacerations on their cherubic little face.  

People are stupid.

Children need their parents to protect them.

I need to protect my dog.

Parents need to teach their children to not smother an unfamiliar, unsuspecting dog with affection, kisses and hugs - even if the dog seems friendly.  Then that enriching experience may turn into a life long scar and a possible one way ticket to euthanasia for the dog.

Think of it this way.  Some old guy walks up to your child.  He asks "May I touch your cute little five year old girl?  Can I ruffle her hair and hug her too?"

What would you say? 

Would you feel comfortable with a stranger suddenly invading your space, hovering over you, scaring you?  I don't know about you, but it would freak me the 'f' out. 

Why do people think it is okay to pet dogs just because they are in public?

They are not giant stuffed animals.  They have feelings, fears, anxiety, and space issues just like people! 

Just because my dog is in public, does not make them public domain.  

"Can I pet your dog?"

"Thank you for asking me, but NO you may NOT pet my dog.  I don't owe you an explanation, nor do I feel guilty.  I love my dog and she is worth more to me than your desire to pet her." 

Nuff said.  Rant over....everyone is okay. No worries.


Totally Timmy said...

I feel the same way..people always want to pet my BC Pip and he has issues with kids so no way..I agree that parents need to teach their kids how to approach dogs, I've stopped walking in parks just for this reason..

julie said...

Oh my, seldom meet someone with the exact same feeling about this! :-)
I have both dogs that absolutely LOVE other people, and one that isn't comfortable with them and really scared of children. But, whatever my dog may or may not like, I don't allow either of my dogs to be petted by strangers. I decide when, where and by whom they get to be petted, and strangers I don't know are not part of that, not even with an 8 week old pup. I know enough people that are still strangers to my pup, people that know how to handle a dog, for socialization. And, I am a dog person but mostly a "my dog" person, meaning I don't like unknown dogs having to greet me if I didn't ask for it. And so I don't want my own dogs to greet every single person we meet - unless they got my permission - which is imho exactly what they learn from being petted all the time.

I despise the general feeling around here that dogs are collective property. I totally agree with you on the comparison with a child, but if I try to tell people that, I get shot for comparing a dog to a child.

I don't even answer the petting Q anymore, rude as that may be, because where I live, people tend to ask it while already stretching their hands towards my dogs and not responding to a no. Instead I ignore every single person I meet on our daily walks or wherever that starts hovering - I don't meet their eyes, my whole body posture telling them I don't want to be bothered, I quite simply act as if they are air. I have some English commands for my dogs (as a non-English speaking person, that is), but with these "I wanna pet, I wanna pet" people I start a whole conversation with my dogs in English or French or Spanish, so that they think I don't understand them.
And, the most useful thing I have found, mostly with pups, is my Dutch cue for attention. I say a word that translates as "ignore". Clear for my pup what I want her to do, i.e. pay attention to me and me alone. I keep eye contact with my pup, so very easy for me to ignore the hovering people, and most of them will get it. My cue makes it even more clear.
With those that are really stubborn or dumb or both, I feel the need to get just a tiny bit physical (if, of course, all of the above still doesn't help and after having asked explicitly to not pet my dog). Something with fingers coming too close and a swinging dog leash...

Oh yes, I'm all for protecting my dogs (and my own) personal space! ;-)

Losech said...

First time posting here, gotta say I love your blog and the photography! And Ranger's funky faces.

Anyways, my Shiba Inu is afraid of strangers. I normally wouldn't mind if people wanted to pet him. However, due to his fear it's almost always a no. He was from a puppy mill so his fear is understandable and it's taken me months to get him to the point where he doesn't flat out try to run from everybody.
One of my Mom's dogs, Sasha, a Border Collie/Labrador Retriever LOVES people no matter who they are. I don't mind if people ask to pet her since she loves it so much but I only let the people who ask touch her. Same goes with Juneau, Sasha's sister.
But with Conker anytime he's on-leash it's always no unless he knows them and doesn't mind. Conker doesn't like having to be around complete strangers or even most partial-strangers while on-leash and my guess is because he cannot escape if he chooses to. Off-leash like at home or the dog park he doesn't care and will march right up to people he's never met and demand things from them, probably because he can escape if he wants.

I've had a couple instances where people have ignored me and went after Conker to pet him and scared the bejeebes out of him. Those people are the ones who made his stranger fear stronger and sent his training backwards several weeks. I don't tolerate them anymore and while I try to be nice at first I'm not afraid to get mean or rude with people who ignore me.
I'd much rather protect my dog's mental stability than satisfy their desire to touch a cute but obviously fearful dog.

Katie said...

I totally need to comment on this because I had a situation a week ago where my husband and I were hiking with our BC and a woman and her 4 children were also hiking. One of the girls (a young teenager) asked if she could pet our dog, and my husband responded "I'm sorry, no, he gets a little afraid of strangers." A little while later we stopped to take some pictures at an overlook, and they caught up to us on the trail and cornered us with exclamations of "Oooh, puppy!". As I tried to get our dog out of that situation (and fast) he began barking at the kids. The woman yelled at us "Don't you think you should get your dog of the trail if he doesn't like strangers? He went after my kid." (The dog did not go after the kid, he barked at her, and I had him by the collar the whole time so he wasn't out of control.) I was tempted to reply that maybe when someone tells you that their dog doesn't like strangers you shouldn't corner him and try to pet him!

Wee Bri said...

Amen. And ditto to Katie - we've lost (ignorant) friends over this issue.

If people had 1/2 the control over their children that I do w/my BC...

Karen said...

Fortunately, my experiences with really ignorant people have been few. The only times our dogs are in a really public place is at a trial (basically all dog people there), a demo, and the farmers market. I do allow the dogs to be petted with permission, because I think it's good for the dogs, and good for the people. I do keep it very controlled, and a very close watch. Luna is very limited with her interactions. This is mostly because, while she will initiate the contact with some, people tend to become too overbearing for her, and eventually she gives them the lip. When we first got her, she would be trying to pull the other direction if she saw a stroller or a noisy toddler coming her way. (She came from a family with little kids...) Therefore only a select few,(I know the types she prefers, and no kids or big men) get to interact with her, I end it before it becomes too much, and I use it as an educational tool to explain that many dogs do not like you staring them in the face, leaning over them etc. I'm hoping they go away with a smidgin of knowledge that they didn't have before.
Quite often at the farmers markets people will buy a dog treat at the booth next to us, and ask to give it to our dogs. (What better place for a dog to be, in a dogs opinion, especially since the owner comes over a few times during the market to slip them a treat:))
At a demo, Jake would mostly be loose, and loves nothing more than to offer a toy to someone, play bow in front of them, begging for them to throw it. With people she doesn't know, Calli is kind of ambiguous about the whole thing.
So to sum up all that rambling:), yes I allow some interaction, at my discretion, and it is very controlled.
Now people letting their dogs come up to our dogs....well that's a whole other thing, and I can't believe how clueless some of them are.

cheyne923 said...

My dachshund bites so it's really scary when someone doesn't ask. Fortunately most children and adults ask, I'm impressed by how many parents have taught their kids to politely approach the owner.
Melinda and Jeeves

K-Koira said...

Since my dog Pallo loves kids beyond all reason, if someone asks, I will often allow them to pet him, gently, while I hold onto his collar or harness. But, if it is crowded, lots of people walking by, my dog is too excited, something might scare the dog, etc, I have no problem saying no, not this time.

And, no matter what my response, when a child is the one that asks the question, I always thank the parent for having the child ask. Because I know, while my current dog is great with kids, not all dogs are.

Patty said...

Totally feel the same way. I try to be polite and say no. But if they keep pressing, I will just walk away. Another variation of this, "can our dogs meet (while on leash)?" My response "no" is always followed by "but my dog is friendly" I stopped trying to explain that Sophie is friendly but leash reactive and just respond with "mine is not" and walk away. Ugh some people!!

Holly said...


Lynette said...

OMG I have to apologize to everyone. I'm a total offender! When I pass someone with their dog at Petco or Home Depot, I can hardly help but ask if I can pet them. I've always assumed that's part of the reason they bring them along, but sometimes even at the park, when they're most likely just out for a good walk. This is a very good lesson for me. No more petting unless they approach me! Thanks for posting about this!

Mack and Murph said...

Great Post! Could not agree more. My Dog= My Rules. My dogs are just more comfortable with people they know.

forensicfarmgirl said...

AMEN! I have some guy at the feedstore who, despite repeated warnings, tries to pet Lily as she snarls at him from the inside of the truck. He tells her that "One day we'll be friends."

I tell him, "Not bloody likely!"

His boss says "Let the idiot get bit! You've told him. The dog has told him. If the idiot gets bitten it's his fault!"

Still, to protect my dog, I still keep my windows rolled up.

RYKER said...

We don't have any problem with dog petting but I do really appreciate people asking first. Yes is generally the answer but please ask, don't assume.

NicotineFree said...

Totally agree. I don't allow strangers to handle my dog.