This is something many pup parents can relate to!
For some reason, when people -even full grown adults- come across a cute dog, they instinctively reach their hand out to touch it. Not only is this potentially dangerous, but it is incredibly rude. But why?
Today, we are going to discuss the importance of permission, and why this one word has everything to do with safe and appropriate dog interactions.
Why Shouldn’t I Pet A Stranger’s Dog?
First of all, touching a stranger’s dog without both the human’s and dog’s permission is beyond disrespectful. A dog is a personal companion to most people -some would even consider their dog their “child”- and interacting with that companion without permission is a complete invasion of privacy. If you don’t have the right to protect your dog, what do you have?
Many people are often offended by strangers touching their dog because it makes them feel like their opinion and/or feelings are not important. Maybe they have worked hard to build a relationship with their dog, and a stranger’s interactions sets progress backwards. Whatever the reason may be, if it is not your dog, don’t touch it.
As well, petting a strange dog with or without permission is a gamble in itself! How are you to know whether or not the dog is friendly? The dog may be afraid of humans, human touch, or even the environment he is currently immersed in. By extending any limb towards this dog, you are taking the risk for it to be bitten off! Is it really worth the pat?
When Is It Ok To Pet A Stranger’s Dog?
The only time it is every appropriate to pet a stranger’s dog is when you have permission. First, you must ask something like “may I please pet your dog?” Be polite, as you are requesting to interact with something very special to that person.
If they say yes, and you feel comfortable with the dog and the risk you are taking, you may pet the dog. Pay close attention to his body language. This is key to ensuring the interaction is smooth and not ruined by a negative reaction.
Allow the dog to warm up to you, and approach you first. You can offer an extended hand, but avoid making contact too quickly. You don’t want to startle him. Remain calm and keep positive thoughts. If you are nervous, you will make the dog nervous as well.
The Owner Said OK, But The Dog Seems Unsure
If the owner gives you permission to pet their dog, but the dog seems unsure of the interaction, do not pet the dog. If the dog seems uncomfortable in any way, shape, or form, do not pet the dog!
If the dog is visibly uncomfortable at any point in the interaction, slowly move your body away from the dog and continue on with your day. Some dogs and people don’t make friends right away, and the worst place to explore this is in a strange environment.
If you see a cute dog, make sure that you have permission from both the dog and the owner before attempting to shower it with affection.
Just like human interactions, consent is everything!