This is really uncomfortable to talk about but I need to get it off my chest.

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44 Comments on “This is really uncomfortable to talk about but I need to get it off my chest.”

  1. No, he is in training. No, he is not allowed to do meet and greets. No, he is working. No, ( hand up in a stop position).

    1. My dog is a rescue and she is a nervous reactive due to her background. With some things she has made progress, but with others she may never really get there and my trainer has taught me to do the ‘policeman’s stop’ with both people and other dogs. It has helped with my confidence when being out with her because someone else’s feelings are not more important than my dog’s progress and everyone’s safety.

  2. I agree that people who ask nicely are better than those who just do it, and most of the time I let people pet my dog, but I ask them to kneel instead of standing above him, because he gets nervous when that happens. Haven’t seen the whole video, but great points already.

    1. I had a todler run up out of no where and wrap her arms round my puppys neck. I had to explain she should never do that. Thankfully my dog is pretty chill. I cant imagine what would have happened im diffrent circumstances

    2. Yep, my kids have grown up with dogs, large dogs, they have been raising them to respect dogs and owners. My kids would never run up to a dog in public with or without permission. I wish all dog owners trained their humans as well!!!!

    3. My dog was very god socialiced as a puppy but there were no little kids in the family.He gets nervous very quick and I can’t let children pet him, so sometimes walks are getting stressful because he looks so beautiful with long white fur.Every kid wants to touch him.

  3. I really appreciate you addressing this. I feel as though people need to be more considerate overall and advocate for their dogs. I think it’s important to be assertive with strangers or other dogs that want to interact with your dog.

  4. When someone ask me to pet my dog I say ask her. She doesn’t like to be petted by strangers and will move away from them. The reaction from strangers is funny.

  5. I get this all the time ! My dog is really nervous of new people. She’s been slowly gaining confidence but initial meetings is s big challenge. And even though she does really well people or children running up to pet her really stresses her out. I have a collar that says do not pet but not many people listen to it 😅

  6. When we were kids before we spent the night somewhere at a friends house, my mom wanted to know who the friend was and she would sometimes call the friends mom. Especially, if she did not know them. That was how I looked at dog to dog interaction when my nervous/shy rescue was approached by other dogs. so … I needed to have a questionnaire filled out first for my shy dog to play lol. 😂 Truth.

  7. YES! my 14yo senior dog has become more leash reactive as she gets older and harder of hearing/sight. But she doesn’t look her age.. people let their dogs run up to her off leash and get so offended when she begins to bark and snap. And our county and city BOTH have leash laws so I always kindly but firmly say “You need to leash your dog.” I’ve never gotten a good response but I don’t care! People need to know where I stand!

  8. This is such a big problem that is not talked about enough!!! As a service dog handler (with confidence issues) almost every time I go out people will distract my dog. I have even seen people try to sneak a pet ‘without me noticing’. Thank you for covering this.

    My service dog in training is still a puppy and petting her could make it very hard for me to get her back in work mode.

    It’s very frustrating because, like you said, you don’t want to sound like a jerk.

    1. Same!! Just took my 1 year old sdit out yesterday with 3 do not pet patches and a do not distract patch and we had 4 people talk to him, 2 people stare and follow us and a grown man pet his head all within 30 minutes. It’s so frustrating he’s still learning and it’s so challenging for him since he’s a friendly guy

    2. My SD retired several years ago, but when he was working, it seemed as though the “no touch, no talk, no eye contact” patch, along with the others only served to encourage people to touch, talk, and make eye contact. It was very frustrating, and stressful. It got to the point I didn’t want to go out anymore because of the badly behaved public.

    3. And those distractions can result in missing an alert for some teams, which means someone could die. So sometimes appearing rude to others is the best option available to you.

  9. I agree with you completely. Some people just don’t think past getting what they want. One of the funniest things I’ve seen on this issue, was when a guy with a dog walked over to someone’s kid and start petting her hair in response to them petting his dog without asking. The lady was so shocked! But I think he got his point across!😂

  10. As someone who has always had Irish Wolfhounds (until recently), I can certainly relate. Everybody and their brother wanted to pet the “big dog”, feel their hair, and ask how much they eat. And I can understand where that person is coming from. I love dogs, too, so I get it. On the other hand, not every one of my Wolfhounds liked tons of people running up to them and petting them. So I would usually tell people “I’m sorry, she’s really tired now and we’re just getting ready to leave” and then remove the dog from those overbearing people. On the other hand, we had several Wolfhounds who loved nothing more than meeting people and getting petted and I was usually a little more lax with letting people pet those dogs. So be respectful of others. If you’d like to pet their dog, ask them if you may. If they say no, respect that (and realize it probably isn’t personal). If they say “no, she doesn’t like strangers and may nip at you” believe them! Don’t think “dogs really like me and she won’t nip a ME”. If you see someone training their dog, don’t interrupt and ask to pet the dog. That’s just rude. If someone’s dog jumps up on you and they’re trying to get the dog to sit politely instead, don’t say “it’s okay, I don’t mind”. Don’t pet the dog until the dog is sitting politely. I know you want to pet the cute dog–like I say, I’m an animal lover and I get that. I want to pet the cute dog, too. But please be respectful of the dog and the dog’s person. I have a situation that is a bit awkward now. We have two dogs (smaller ones) and one just simply loves to be petted by anyone and everyone. The other does not appreciate being petted by people she doesn’t know–at all. So when people ask if they can pet my dogs, so if I want to give them permission, I tell them they may pet one, but not the other.

    1. YES! Everything you just said!!! Newfie owner here. Our female is slightly reactive, and takes a bit to warm up to dogs and kids. She is sensitive. People just run up to us when we’re out with her thinking she’s a “gentle giant”. Everyone wants to hug newfies- IDK why! It’s not a stuffed animal! Sheesh. kids will try to lay on my dogs, etc. And people don’t respect when I’m trying to say “she’s not that friendly, please keep your distance”- they just keep walking towards us. But the thing is, my dogs (as you know) can drag me!! So it’s especially annoying when people don’t respect big dog’s size and autonomy. Our male on the other hand loves hugs and snuggles and people getting in his face! I get what you’re saying for sure, some dogs are extroverts and some dogs are introverts. hah!

    2. ikr. I have a saint bernard puppy atm and I live just across from a school. The amount of kids walking past and screaming because “OMG I WANNA PET THE DOG!” is annoying. Sure, he needs to be socialized, but he also needs to be able to chill. I don’t want a dog that will just walk away with some stranger.

  11. we’ve become a society too where not only can we not say “no” to other people but we can’t take “no” for an answer. you can’t do that. people need to learn that no is not personal.

  12. I’m a dog walker in the UK. This was a fascinating video with a lot of food for thought.

    When it’s humans approaching the dog I’m with, the vast majority will ask. I will flag up the tricky ones with “I’d rather you didn’t, as she’s very nervous. But thanks for asking.” Or “she might bark or jump up”. If they push it, I’ll explain “if she overreacts, the law is not on her side. And I know you wouldn’t want to put her in danger”. But I can be quite stern if people aren’t listening. I enjoy saying hi to dogs, but I always ask. If they say “no, sorry” (and this is Britain, they will apologise!), I always say “that’s ok, that’s why I ask”. Gold points to parents who’ve taught their kids to ask before approaching, and how best to pet a dog without startling it. And I do enjoy being available as a teachable moment for owners struggling with dogs who jump on strangers. My first dog was excellent at sitting for people he knew, but 99% of the time he got a cuddle from strangers, so I try to be the helpful stranger who only gives a fuss when all four paws are on the floor. And fellow dog owners have thanked me for it, when they see improvements in their pup’s manners.

    When it’s other dogs, and mine is on lead, it depends on both my dog’s history and body language and the other dog (whether I know them, what their body language says and what their human is doing – if I can’t see their human, they don’t get to approach unless I’m very familiar with them). As you know, a dog on lead feels vulnerable, both because their options are limited (they can’t run away) and because they are right next to someone they feel protective of. I’m lucky in that I generally go to the same park every day and get to know most of the dogs, their owners, and any issues to be aware of. If my dog is on lead, I stay hyper aware of what both dogs are doing while they interact. I will use both body and voice to block approaches if I’m uncertain, and will ask people to call their dogs away if I’m worried. I tend not to take dogs into the park if I’m concerned about their behaviour. To the credit of most local owners, if they see a dog on lead in the park, most will ask if I’d like them to put their dog on lead too, and I really appreciate that thoughtfulness (although it’s rare that I say yes, unless their dog is particularly insistent). When off lead, even with familiar dogs playing, I stay alert and will offer treats to everyone at regular intervals (particularly if it’s more than two dogs playing) so the mood stays calm and relaxed.

    1. Thats a really good point about the law not being on the dogs side!
      My Bernese mountain dog (a quite big black dog) is sooo friendly but very excited and when he is excited he will take peoples hands in his mouth and nibble… as if to say, I want to hold your hand. But people will think he is biting them and if the situation escalated someone might want him to be put down. So even though he is a big cuddleball he is never allowed to say hello unless it’s to people who now him and vice versa

  13. “How can I say no without being a jerk?”
    Just say it, really. Neither you nor your dog owes anyone the right to interact with them, and the popular perception that your dog is somehow “everyone’s” is dangerous 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘨, because if your dog feels threatened and responds with a bite, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 are the ones that suffer the consequences. In my case, with people, as soon as they look like they’re going to move toward my dog to interact with them, I give them an assertive “Please don’t.”, and depending on their reaction I’ll give them an explanation afterwards. As for unleashed dogs, I will usually down my dog then start walking towards the other dog to block them from coming anywhere near my dog (I usually have my partner with me, though, so they’ll stay with the dog while I go block).
    Protecting my dog is more important than some stranger’s feelings getting hurt because I didn’t let them interact with my dog.

  14. My Bichon, who died last year, had an autoimmune disorder. The medications for that lower your immune system, which meant that I had to make sure he was never close to other dogs, because getting so much as a cold could literally kill him. The number of times that an off-leash dog would come out of nowhere and run up to us was unbelievable. And the owner(s) would eventually stroll up and say “oh, it’s okay! he’s friendly!”. I swear, my blood would start to boil.

    I would understand if it was someplace like the park, where you tend to let your dog roam a bit, as you work on training, but these were always just out by the street. Do you not care that your dog could get hit by a car??

  15. have definitly dealt with people like that. the worst is when theyre like “dont worry, my dog is friendly!” well thats great for you but my dog is reactive and im trying to keep some space. like at this moment i dont care how friendly your dog is, my dog is uncomfortable and thats what im focusing on. ive had adult family members throw temper tantrums over me advocating for my what my dog is comfortable with. its incredible how entitled people feel

    1. People also sometimes think their dog is friendly because it’s friendly *to them*. The number of times I’ve had a dog charge or chase me, bark, snarl, snap with hackles raised, etc while their owner calls from half a block away (not even bothering to come get the dog) “don’t worry, he’s friendly” while out on a run is too many times. I’ve had dogs escape through an unlatched gate and attack me – biting my shoe off. It doesn’t matter if you think your dog is friendly, breaking the laws and letting your untrained dog run around and harass people is dangerous and can traumatize others…. it’s also a great way to get your dog injured or killed by someone who felt threatened.

    2. THIS. I’ve been working so hard with my reactive dog over the past 3 years and every time an off leash dog runs up to my dog I have to quickly scoop him up out of safety for both dogs and yell at the owner to leash their dog. And of course it creates a set back for my dog. People just can’t seem to understand that just because *their* dog is friendly doesn’t mean mine is! I go in areas where leashes are required so it’s incredibly frustrating!

    3. Same. I have a dog who looks cute but needs her space from humans and dogs alike. I even put a neon yellow sign on her to leave her alone, and still people dicide to ignore this! My dog bares her theeth and growls to let them know she doesn’t want the attention. And then I get the “your dog is agressive, you should train her better” comment. My God that used to make my blood boil, but now I’m at a point that I don’t bother any more. I just walk on and let them scream after me.

    4. Exactly! We’ve had people do this to us and it’s so incredibly frustrating because I want to say to them “Well my dog isn’t friendly!” It’s embarrassing to have a dog with social anxiety because he’s a rescue and needs lots of love and reassurance and when someone with an off leash dog comes running up to us, he can get reactive and it feels like months of training goes down the drain because other people can’t respect boundaries. I feel so sorry for my dog when I try so hard to shield him from these situations but it feels like a bite will be unavoidable if people and dogs keep coming up to us without warning. 😭

  16. Thank you for addressing this. The amount of off-leash dogs I’ve had to intercept on walks is ridiculous. The “he’s friendly” callout from the owner really gets me going because my dog REALLY HATES being approached by strange dogs when he’s on leash. People also have just reached out and petted him without asking and I’m so shocked every time lol. Like…at least ask? That being said most people do ask but still

  17. As a one-at-a-time dog walker who specializes in reactive clients (both to other dogs and people), THANK YOU for this video! The biggest problem I have is the people who persist after I tell them no, because they believe themselves to be The Beastmaster and that they’re special enough that the dog will love them immediately.

    1. My dog is reactive to dogs that he doesn’t know and so he wears a full set of high vis stuff as a warning to others, the amount of times I get people with their dogs start walking our way and I try to avoid them but they follow me to attempt to interact with me is crazy.
      When they come my way I put my dog in a sit position as he is most comfortable with that and I clearly state to the other dogs owner “We need space! My dog is in training!” And the owners think it’s okay to come closer and ask me what my dog is training for!
      When I explain to them that my dog is reactive to other dogs and should not be approached by another dog that I don’t know the personality of, they continue to tell me that their specific dog is friendly and would be great with my dog!

      Of course after all this interaction near a dog my dog gets upset because he is trying to stay in a sit and 9/10 times the other persons dog is pulling towards him and is completely out of control.
      People just can’t seem to get it in their heads that my dog is not to be approached.

      Yesterday alone I came across FIVE dog owners that allowed their dog to lunge at my dog whilst their dogs were on flexi leads, and then they were surprised and horrified that my dog reacted badly by lunging at their dog. The irony of it is, these people don’t think of their small dog lunging and pulling towards other dogs are a problem, and suddenly when my Large/Extra large dog does it back my dog gets the blame for it and is labelled out of control.

      I’ve also had someone with their dog stop me in mid training to tell me that I was holding my dogs lead wrong and had the wrong gear on him! They claimed to be a dog trainer and I pointed out to them what kind of professional dog trainer thinks it’s okay to walk over with their dog to a strangers dog in high vis to tell them they are training their dog wrong also not to mention she doesn’t know my dogs history or behaviour issues, she walked away slagging me off and saying I was a bad owner.

  18. This is so helpful. As an early childhood educator who taught kids ranging in ages from birth to 11 years, all of my students learned never to interact with a dog without permission from the adult they were with and the dog’s owner. If 3-year-olds can understand this concept, adults can too. This video gave me something to think about as well. I never interact with working dogs and I never interact with any dogs without permission. But I have been the first type of person you mentioned: the one to ask for permission to interact without knowing if a dog is in training or nervous, etc and after seeing this video I will definitely keep the things you mentioned in mind. Off leash dogs are such a challenge and when I’ve spoken to their owners about it, I have almost always been met with an icy attitude. I’ve had some particularly difficult times with small dogs because their owners seemed to believe that they were harmless because they were small in size. My dog is absolutely never off leash/off lead outside, except during daycare. Lots of great info and things to ponder in this video! Thanks, Zak! I hope Inertia is recovering/has recovered from surgery nicely. Heading over to check out your latest IG/TikTok now! I’m loving the new and exciting content! 💜

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