A dear friend of mine who does not LOVE dogs and lives in an elevator building often asks me how to politely tell her neighbors she does not wish to have dogs plunge their face into her laundry basket on her way home. Before you judge, she does not dislike animals. She simply does not gush over them the way you or I would. Even as a dog lover, I am not sure I would want to have an unknown dog’s slobber, fur and who knows what else all over my clean clothes.
We often talk about dogs and strangers invading our fearful, aggressive or aging animals’ space; but let’s make sure we are being polite to our neighbors and not invading their space either.
Daycare and veterinary lobbies. I see more and more people who ask permission before allowing their playful pups to engage with random dogs on the street. Seriously, it makes me so happy. However, we forget that in a small space like a lobby where there is a heavy flow of dogs that pushing another dog or human in their face on leash might be unwelcome.
You might assume that a dog who regularly attends daycare loves other dogs. Think again. There are many dogs who behave very well off leash in a controlled setting but get persnickety when other dogs invade their space on leash. People too, do not stare at the adorable dog waiting to check-in at a boarding facility. It can scare them and cause the dog to growl. ASK if you can say hello to the dog and if the human says “no”, do not push it. No matter how much you love dogs.
I can not tell how many times I have to say “please get your dog” when I am at the vet with Finn. He’s old and has endured quite a few attacks. Do I trust him? Yes! But, that trust is built on him knowing I will protect him. And, he’s 13. Call me when you are pushing 8o years old and tell me if you want toddlers bouncing all over you. You should follow the same rules in veterinary lobbies as you do on the street. ASK! Your dog may be dying to say hello to a sick dog. By not allowing it, you keep your pet safe and prevent putting another guardian in a very stressful situation.
Elevators are very tight spaces and dogs who are aggressive or fearful do not do well in small spaces. If you are riding with a cute dog and the owner tells you “no, you can not pet my dog”, please listen. I have a lovely client with a very well behaved Great Dane who was pushed into a corner by a neighbor wearing a Halloween mask and despite her telling this person he was making her dog nervous, he did not listen and continued. If you push a dog into a corner and the dog bites you, the accountability is yours but the dog will pay. Very sad.
People lovers are not always loved by people. I often talk about dog selective dogs (those who do like to be approached by every single dog on the street) so I will not dive into that discussion. Just because you know your dog is friendly and absolutely loves people; it does not give him or her an invitation to goose every person you pass on the street. Finn LOVES people. He even has a tweenage fan club in the neighborhood who are heartbroken if I do not stop to let them practice “shake” and “bow”. I kind of love it too. But, Finn is a big boy and not all of the kids we pass on our walks are comfortable around big dogs. So, when I see someone veering out of my path or quite frankly, who does not appear to want to pet him; I simply say “leave it” and he keeps walking. If my big dog nudges someone who is afraid of dogs, I am responsible for perpetuating a human’s fear.
We all have to share spaces, let’s remember common courtesy for others when we are out and about with our dogs.