Sometimes, dog parents are all about strangers loving on their animal with lots of petting and praise. Other times, not so much.
Amazingly, children often have better manners when it comes to asking before approaching an unknown animal, whereas adults think they know everything and may start petting new animals at will.
1. Don’t feel bad. Saying “no” doesn’t make you mean.
It’s hard to tell people they’ve crossed a boundary, especially if they didn’t bother to ask in the first place. Your dog may be ill, recovering from illness, skittish due to deafness or blindness, fearful, shy, unstable on their feet after surgery, or unable to hold potty when they get excited. Maybe it’s just flu season and you don’t know how clean the stranger’s hands are! Whatever your reasons for not wanting people to pet Fido, you are not obligated to explain yourself or apologize.
2. Acknowledging compliments isn’t an invitation.
It’s okay to thank people for complimenting your dog, but an acknowledgement is not an invitation to touch. If people approach anyway, it’s okay to say, “Please don’t come any closer.” Nothing else should be necessary, including an explanation.
3. Try a yellow ribbon.
A few years ago, dog parents tired of their pets being manhandled founded The Yellow Dog Project, a global movement for pets who need space. By tying a yellow ribbon to your dog’s collar or leash, you’re broadcasting that your dog shouldn’t be petted by strangers. A yellow ribbon is not necessarily a sign of aggression, but rather a sign that the dog, for whatever reason, needs space. You may have to briefly explain what the yellow ribbon means, but it will probably help, especially as the trend continues to catch on.
4. Don’t apologize.
You don’t owe anyone an apology for not letting them pet your animal. As the dog’s parent, it’s your job to protect them and look out for their best interest. This trait is respected in parents of human children, and it should also be respected in you. If people aren’t courteous, walk away and don’t let it bother you.
There’s nothing wrong with doing the best for your pet. If your animal doesn’t respond well to petting from strangers for any reason, you have every right to maintain boundaries so they won’t have to. Watching out for your animal reinforces your role as the leader and makes them feel safe, which will prevent negative situations such as biting in the future. If you ever need more advice specifically for your pet, contact your local pet clinic, vet clinic, or animal hospital, or make an appointment with us at LazyPaw Animal Hospitals, the best Frisco vet around!