Why don’t people know how to behave around dogs?

Sometimes, I really can’t get over how idiotic the general public are in the way they interact with or approach my dogs.

I feel no guilt calling them idiots, because I always try duck out of people’s way, tell them not to come over etc…yet they do. And at the end of the day they are putting my dogs at risk by behaving like imbeciles.

A prime example was an older man walking a JRT that had the same markings as Pixie, during Pixie’s first few weeks with us. I knew straight away he would come over and talk to us, I could tell as he kept looking over, so I immediately began distancing ourselves from him.

I clearly held out the sleeves on the lead (which read nervous, in training, and keep your distance) and started moving us away as the old man crossed the road towards us.

I walked across the road we were near and started walking behind some houses (dead end leading to a car park but with a narrow exit onto the pavement) and the man followed us, calling out questions and ignoring when I asked him to leave us alone several times, as my dog was nervous.

A similar incident happened here too :/

This is not cool!

You need to pay attention to anything the dog could be wearing (eg. a NERVOUS harness) and anything on the lead – this could be the lead itself (yellow, nervous, in training etc) or things on the lead such as sleeves, a yellow ribbon etc.

If someone has asked you not to come closer and especially when the reason given is their dog is scared, you MUST NOT go any closer – it is not fair on the owner and it’s certainly not fair on the dog, and if you get hurt it is YOUR FAULT no matter what the law says.

Another incident happened a few days ago.

We were walking Raiden and had already had to turn a few times and dodge several idiots, including a mum letting her child of about two start running towards Rey.

We were walking along the main road and there were two walkers up ahead moving very slowly, so we stopped and did some training with Rey to let them gain distance. The walkers crossed a very narrow bridge that leads into our village, then stopped at the end of it, completely blocking anyone from passing.

They stood there several minutes without moving, so we inched our way towards them in the hope they’d realise we couldn’t pass. This whole time we were training and rewarding Rey.

Eventually they moved away from the bridge, by about a foot – seriously?!

Nevertheless we passed them, giving Rey lots of cues and rewarding him continuously. He passed within a few feet of them and did really well (he also has an ‘IN TRAINING’ sleeve on his lead).

When we got about 3ft past the walkers, one of them called out to him and made the kissy-kissy noise?!?! Thankfully Raiden only turned and wagged, but if that had happened when he was much younger it would have resulted in pulling and shrieking, as he was overly excited by people and other dogs as a puppy.

If I am so obviously training my dog and keeping him calm, PLEASE DON’T try and distract him or get his attention!!!

There have been several incidences like the one above, including a lady who constantly tries to fuss our dogs – she once stopped opposite us (after we’d crossed a road to avoid her, and whilst we were asking Rey to focus, sit etc) and shouted to him until he was whining and pulling towards her *sigh*

How is it so hard to understand you DO NOT distract a dog when they’re training??


Pixie does not like morons!

On top of that there are just all the people who act like dicks around our dogs 😛

  • People who run at full speed past us on the pavement and have no thought that this might scare or excite our dogs
  • Parents who let their children scream and shout right next to our pups
  • Parents who let their children RUN UP to our dogs with the intention of stroking them; children ranging in age from two to about twelve
  • Parents who let their children run past and wind my dogs up on purpose, because the kid finds it funny, and the parent then gets arsey when I ask the child not to
  • People who approach our dogs head on and try reach out and stroke them without asking me
  • People who bark at our dogs, yell at them or squeal “OH-MY-GOD THAT DOG’S CUTE!” at the top of their lungs

There needs to be some form of education out there, in regards to dog body language and acceptable ways to interact and behave around them – not just a few schools, but *everyone*, children and adults.

It’s not okay for people to walk around and try interact with dogs when they don’t have a clue how to do it safely, and it is NOT the responsibility of dog owners to educate adults and children on dog safety.

Dog owners shouldn’t need to be on guard all the time in case morons come over and terrify their dogs, and we can’t keep expecting every dog we pass on the street to be bomb proof and have no fears or anxieties.

When my parents were young, if you got bit by the family dog or he growled at you, you were immediately asked what you did to it – with the implication that it was *your* fault.

My dad’s childhood dog resource guarded food, and would growl if you went near as he was eating. That was totally normal and acceptable to them, and everyone (including the children) knew not to bother Ben when he was eating.

These days if a child runs up to an unknown dog and roughly strokes the dog’s face, resulting in a growl, the dog owner gets abuse and is told to muzzle their dog.

It’s ridiculous, and makes owning a fearful dog extremely extremely difficult.

Please check out this post as it has a list of easy to understand infographics on body language, signs of fear, and acceptable ways to interact with dogs. Useful for dog owners, the public and several could help children too 🙂


16 thoughts on “Why don’t people know how to behave around dogs?

  1. From my experience a lot of the bad behavior from people stems from ignorance. They’re often not aware that what they do might be problematic, or they are not familiar with dog body language. But when you have a sleeve on a leash, they really have no excuse whatsoever! -Ellie

    • I agree, but that’s exactly why something needs to change – people NEED to know, and how do we get that to change? I know a few schools are introducing dog education programmes, but it’s not enough and sometimes adults can be as bad as kids! 😀

      Yeah. I like to try and make it as obvious as possible to stay away from my dogs, and am always amazed when someone ignores all that and tries to force strokes on them… >__<

  2. People really don’t know. I can’t blame people for being ignorant. I Can blame them for ignoring me when I tell them to get their dog back. If I say my dog is not comfortable with other dogs or ask someone to pull their dog in, nothing. I think people go to “well, I/my dog is different”. Bah. The best thing I have found is saying “he’s a jerk” (referring to my dog). A trainer I know tells people her dog is infectious, or uses a really high ‘good dog’ voice to say ‘no biting!’.

    • How do you educate people though? Because it’s such a small movement (ie. going into a few classes to teach about dog body language) and it needs to reach everyone.

      I’m so tired of other dog owners being useless with their dogs, and everybody in public wanting to pet my dogs!! It’s manageable, yes, but leaves me constantly on lookout and very aware that one idiot could ruin so much of my training :/

      We’ve said “keep back, he will bite” a few times over the years when people have been hell-bent on approaching Kasper, but I always worry it could be used as evidence against us. He’s not an aggressive dog and has never bitten anyone, but if you keep approaching when I’ve told you to back off, what else can I say?!

      • I don’t know, honestly. When I am walking Warren I am paying such close attention – where are other dogs, is there anything he is going to try to eat, is there enough room, and so on. I have passed within feet of people I know without noticing because they represent PERSON not someone in particular. Even people who work with dogs are unclear, and I have made more than a few mistakes myself. Most of what I have learned is by observing experienced people, and closely observing the dogs. There are very few classes in understanding dogs.

  3. It must be very difficult to walk your dog when people don’t respect the warnings he has on him. This reminded me of a time when we were walking Nugget when we first got her their are a bunch of kids that live in the building next to us. They are always running around and screaming outside and we were walking Nugget and one kid stopped and asked my husband “Can I punch your dog in the face?” Can you believe it? My husband said “NO YOU CAN NOT PUNCH MY DOG IN THE FACE” The kid said “Why?” My husband said “You don’t punch animals in the face ever, and how would you like to be punched in the face?” the kid just laughed and walked away. I mean seriously!

    • Wow, really?! Did the kid actually expect you to say yes?! What is wrong with people? XD

      When we were new to dog ownership, so back when Kasper was very nervous, we had a man come up and chat to us, then in under a minute grab either side of Kasper’s face and get up close to stare into Kasper’s eyes – he apparently wanted to see if our dogs’ eyes were different colours!! Ugh, you could have just asked, and please people, DON’T touch my dogs without checking it’s okay first! >__<

  4. If your frustration level gets too high with the public just deal with it the way I deal with road rage. If I go on the road expecting everyone is going to be like me a responsible, calm, shoulder checking good citizen, than I am going to get worked up. If I go on the road with the attitude that everyone is an idiot and expect the unexpected, I have a more ah ha! I knew that was going to happen, of course because you aren’t a good driver attitude. It strangely changes your perception and you get to where you are going in a better mood by the time you arrive, or in your case finish your walk. Hope this helps and good luck!

    • I do do this. Everytime I see a person I am expecting the worst of them and pre-empting their coming over 😛

      I find it so frustrating because everything ‘bad’ they do negatively affects my dogs…from proving their belief that people are scary, to teaching my youngest boy that people are exciting and pushing back his impulse control.

      I don’t get frustrated because the people are annoying (that’s obviously part of it, but I can deal with that!) but I get frustrated because of the impact they have on my dogs.

      It’s easy for my family and such to say “oh just avoid those people!”, but that’s not possible when the people follow you, shout to your dogs from across roads, and when you might bump into half a dozen people like that in one 30 minute walk!!

      • Nope I totally get it, if only we could speak to our dogs for one day and explain the whole darn thing! Its good you are preparing yourself. I don’t know where you live if its a big or small town but where I am there are facebook groups for lots of random stuff even chat groups, or craigslist, kijiji. I would post on there that you are working on rehabing your dog and try to get together a bunch of people who are willing to go for a walk and follow your instructions, or others who are going through the same. People really will reach out if they hear that your dog is losing out on a great part of life because he can’t properly practice these situations.

      • All our dogs are absolutely fine with people as long as they mind their own business, but when they approach our dogs or shout at them, I can’t blame my dogs for being interested!

        Our Border Terrier is fine as he just gets excited but re-orients quickly, our Collie used to be terrified of strangers but is now wonderful and when introduced correctly can befriend anybody in less than ten minutes, but our youngest dog we’ve only had 4 weeks and she’s had a really really bad start in life that’s left her terrified of everything.

        All we need is for people to mind their own business on walks and she is learning to confidently walk past them – it’s unfortunate that people seem to be unable to leave my dogs alone, and ignore her lead and the sleeves on it stating she’s nervous. She’s nowhere near ready to interact with strangers at all yet, but she IS starting to do better at walking by them without fear.

        I don’t know about speaking to our dogs and getting them to understand, I’d rather speak to the stupid humans and get THEM to understand XD

  5. After having several run-ins in the past week with idiotic parents and dog owners I couldn’t agree more that something needs to be done regarding education.

    • I’ve heard a few people argue over the years that it’s the dog owners job to a) keep triggers away and b) educate people about fearful dogs…and I just could not disagree more 😀

      It is absolutely not my job to tell the public about dog body language, fear and how to greet a dog (I mean really?!) and it’s also not my fault if people decide to harass my dogs or let off lead dogs run at us – how am I supposed to prevent that? And why should I have to?? I mean it gets so exhausting XD

      • Eugh I hate that so much, like you said how can we keep triggers away when people and dogs run up to us! I just think people need to mind their own business and have their dogs mind their own business, whether by management on lead or better training, out on walks unless both parties agree to meet whether its two dog owners or a random person who wants to stop and chat. You’re totally right like why should we have that burden of educating others especially when I have tried recently to politely educate a woman about letting her 4 off lead bichons go up to strange dogs on lead without permission or acknowledgement of the owner wasn’t such a great idea (they were swarming Bonnie and she couldn’t recall them) and she basically was like oh whatever angrily and went off in a huff. We just can’t win!

      • Oh that’s the worst feeling in the world, I absolutely hate when there are multiple dogs swarming my on lead dog and there’s nothing much you can do…Rey’s not too bad because we can drop the lead if the others are friendly as he’ll play with anything haha, and he’s small enough to pick up…but there’s nothing I can do with Kasper or Pixie, picking her up on walks is nigh impossible.

        We’ve had a few people give us the most ridiculous training ‘advice’ over the years, and the few times we have bothered to politely explain why we disagree, they get really arsey…if you can’t take an opinion don’t give it!

      • If it’s somewhere remote with no others besides the other dog owner nearby I’ll just drop Bonnie’s lead and keep walking away so she can choose to walk away at whatever pace she wants but when there are other people or kids about or it’s busy I don’t risk it as Bonnie is so excited by greeting others I would worry that she would go up to someone and jump on them for pets. I think in future I’ll just pick her up if it gets too bad as she doesn’t mind it. Honestly I think I’ll step up the muzzle training so she can wear it on walks when I want people to leave us alone but I doubt even that would stop the idiots!

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