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Drive By Petting

BG:   We adopted a rescue dog about 8 or so months ago.  She was estimated to be five at the time, and the shelter said she had been abused.  Her behavior and quirks definitely seemed to verify that.  She’s a dachshund mix, a strange-looking adorable dog who weighs 35 or so pounds.  She’s very, very long, but not tall at all.  When she is on the go, no part of her but her wagging tail is more than 10 inches off the ground.  The first 2 weeks were a nightmare.  She loved us immediately, but barked at every stranger, even if they dared walk passed the house from across the street.  With time and much effort, she is amazing.  She walks by our side, doesn’t pay attention to strangers anymore, and is calm and collected with other dogs (and cats!) — even excited puppies that chew on her ears.  When it comes to new people interacting with her, it has to be on her own terms.  She is still skittish and has to be around them at least several minutes before she decides they’re okay.  She will give them a little drive-by lick (her stamp of approval) and then we’re good to go.  When encountering interested strangers on the street, I’d say about 75% ask if they can pet her (I politely decline and let them know she’s still getting used to strangers), and the other 25% who start to engage me in conversation about the dog and appear like they are about to pet her without asking, I always am able to head them off and briefly explain her story.   /end BG

I was walking her one morning and we were passing a man who was full-speed-ahead in the opposite direction and showed no apparent interest in the dog.  Right as he came next to the dog, he swooped down to try to place his hand on her head.  She barked at him (she’s got big dog bark) and sprinted to the other side of me, terrified.  He proceeded to scold me:   “If you know your dog is like that, you should have pulled her away!”   I was shocked.  There was no time to pull her away from a stranger’s hand because he gave no indication he was going to make a move towards her.  I think I stared at him for about 5 full seconds before I basically stuttered, “You should have asked before you try and pet a strange dog.”   He walked off, that was it.  I’m not sure what the polite or proper response should have been. There was absolutely no indication that he was going to lean down to pet her.  I am hyper-aware of surroundings since we got her because of the way she used to be.  She does so well on walks and shown so much improvement, I’m not going to not walk her.  Is there any better way to deal with this kind of stuff? 1127-15


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  • KimB January 20, 2016, 9:29 am

    You were doing what a pet “guardian” (or mom in my house, I admit it) should do. You were assessing surroundings and how it would affect your dog. People should always ask before petting, and those who don’t usually give some sign they are interested in your dog.

    I have two rescues. One is still and will always be scared to death of people. He loves other dogs though. The other loves all people and dogs. Sometimes she’s scared though.

    Rescues FTW! They’re wonderful dogs.

  • Girlie January 20, 2016, 9:31 am

    Rudeee. I’m encountering this problem, too. I have a puppy and while trying to train him and walk him, I always get the people that freak out and want to love on him. I’d say 80% of people are actually great and ask permission first, which is good because then I get him to ‘sit’ to receive any love, but the other 20% just scream “PUPPPYYY” and run over to him like mad men.

    • Tabitha January 20, 2016, 2:29 pm

      Trying to train puppies in my neighbourhood is the worst. There is one well-meaning, but not very understanding man that loves dogs. He takes care of a lot of neighbours dogs and always carries biscuits. The result being that every dog and puppy in the hood makes a mad dash whenever they see him.
      And some people would call my puppy when I tried to train him to walk, so much so my shoulders were in constant pain from him pulling. A friend of mine has that dog now. I only own greyhounds that are as old as I can get them. They’re a bit skittish but almost completely trained.

      Well meaning dog lover seems to be a bit intellectually challenged so he gets cut a lot of slack. Which is ok, because I mostly just say hi or bye to him with maybe a longer conversation once a year, but if I needed help with my dog that he could give me, he’d be there in a heartbeat, and very trustworthy.

  • sean January 20, 2016, 9:32 am

    you did great. depending on the setting, if you can walk her, have her heel to the side that puts you between strangers. let her keep improving while maintaining a degree of social protection.

  • Jinx January 20, 2016, 9:43 am

    Dexil Limited makes leashes and harnesses that have bright colours and phrases like “NO DOGS”, “CAUTION”, “DEAF DOG”, and so forth.

    It’s not fool-proof, but at least you can say you warned them.

    Frankly, I’d be attempted to pet the stranger and ask them how they feel when stranger touch them. It’s dangerous to approach any animal you don’t know, and it seems like only 25% of people are aware of that.

  • Lerah99 January 20, 2016, 9:51 am

    There is no way to stop someone who is going to be all ninja about petting your dog.

    If he’d been smiling, looking at the dog, slowing down, etc… you could have anticipated and done your normal “Oh no, don’t try to pet her. She’s still a little skittish around strangers.”

    But this guy just darted his hand out without any prior behavior to let you know his intention.
    He’s an adult. He should know better.

    Some people like to think they are the “Dog Whisperer” and all dogs love them.

    I have a dachshund Chihuahua mix who is not fond of strangers.
    Even when I’ve flat out told people “Don’t try to pet her. She’s skittish around strangers and will bite you.” They still reach out for her saying things like “Oh dogs love me!” Like they have some special pheromone that makes dogs love them.
    Then they look all offended when she growls and barks at them.

    You did nothing wrong. This guy KNEW he should of asked.
    He was probably embarrassed and that’s why he blame shifted to you. In his own mind, if it’s YOUR fault for not moving the dog away, then it’s not his fault for trying to pet a strange dog without asking.

  • Jen January 20, 2016, 9:55 am

    I think you and especially your dog did very well. It was the idiot!

    • Jen January 20, 2016, 9:56 am

      He was the idiot!

  • Julia January 20, 2016, 10:00 am

    You know, no matter how polite and thoughtful we are, we have to deal with other people, which means there are going to be awkward moments from time to time. Chalk this up as inevitable. You did all you could; he was unwary and probably unaware of how he acted. He snapped at you because he was startled and maybe a little scared. You responded in a way to remind him he brought the situation on himself. (Personally, I love to pet dogs, but I always ask.)

    I say you should just let it go. It will happen again no matter what you do. Don’t let it spoil your day.

  • Kimberly Herbert January 20, 2016, 10:10 am

    The man was at fault. You have been doing the correct thing socializing your dog and being aware of people and your surroundings. The fact your dog took shelter behind you instead of biting is also a good thing. I have no patience for people who don’t control their dogs, more so now after my niece has been bit twice by dogs while riding her bike. (Witnesses all agree she did nothing aggressive just rode by the yard and the dogs charged).

    • Kheldarson January 20, 2016, 2:01 pm

      That sort of behavior is why I carry pepper spray on my runs now. I’ve been bit too many times by the neighborhood dogs!

  • Jessica January 20, 2016, 10:13 am

    Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do about stupid people. Even though my dog is very very friendly with everyone, if I see someone approaching, I always move her to the other side of my body so I’m between her and the stranger. Sometimes I’ll even step off the sidewalk and walk in the grass. And they make a bright yellow leash that says “Caution Do Not Pet” that you could use. Although I would say if it’s someone who just doesn’t care if your dog should be petted or not, it might not deter them.

    or this http://www.amazon.com/NERVOUS-PREVENTS-Accidents-Warning-Advance/dp/B00BXL66IU

  • AS January 20, 2016, 10:15 am

    I think you dealt with them in the best possible way. It was short, and to the point. I might have added “the next time, please ask before petting, because not all dogs take to strangers well”. I hope he does learn a lesson, and not try to pet a dog without consulting with with the owner(s) first.

    I volunteered at a pet shelter (a no-kill shelter at that! loved it there) for a while. We have seen our share of abused dogs, who are sweethearts, but can be very shy and afraid. We were always told to tread carefully around them, not just for our sake but for even for the dogs because a bite (even if out of fear) will go in their record. I think 2 or 3 bites will result in the animal being put down. And abused dog have gone through a lot of trauma, that they are bound to have trust issues. As the horse-people were discussing a few posts ago, even with dogs, they usually give a lot of warning before attacking. But when they feel like they are being “attacked”, they can react.

    People like the man in the post really annoy me. Treat the animals like a living creature, not a cute stuffed toy!

  • JD January 20, 2016, 10:21 am

    Let’s see, a strange man comes striding up and suddenly swoops down upon your dog to touch it. I’m not surprised your dog barked; I’m surprised the man scolded you. Unless you start teaching the dog to automatically switch sides away from approaching people (good luck if they come around you on both sides), I don’t see any way you could pull your dog away from anyone with no notice of their intention beforehand. The man was in the wrong to reach down and pet the dog without asking. Like you, it would have taken me a few seconds to get my words together and I’m not sure what I would have said. From where I’m sitting at my computer, it’s easy for me to say that you could have said, “I’m sorry, but you startled my dog, and she is a rescue still recovering from abuse. It’s really a good idea to ask before you pet a dog.” But I never would have thought of saying it, standing there on the spot.

    • Michelleprieur January 22, 2016, 7:04 pm

      And why should the OP have apologized?

  • lnelson1218 January 20, 2016, 10:24 am

    I think that what you did was fine. There are many cute dogs out there that I would love to give a quick ear scratch to. However, I ask the owner first.

    I am guilty of talking to a stranger’s dog. “what a cutie.” or “aren’t you beautiful?” But it is not accompanied with a pet, unless the owner says it’s fine. There are some very friendly dogs out there who are happy to actively greet new people.

  • Lisa January 20, 2016, 10:28 am

    “Is there any better way to deal with this kind of stuff?”

    Probably not, because this guy was an idiot. Your response was a good one.

    Thanks for adopting a rescue pet!

  • Outdoor Girl January 20, 2016, 10:29 am

    You were fine; stranger was an idiot.

    Must be a thing with dachshund mixes. My BF has ‘Sweenies’ – dachshund/Shih Tzu crosses. They are very barky, especially with strangers. They are getting much better the more we walk them. When approaching others on the sidewalk, we shorten the leashes, step off in a driveway to let people by and circle around groups of kids. Luckily, I haven’t had anyone try to pet them without asking.

    The only suggestion I have for you is to try to keep her on the opposite side of you to the other pedestrian traffic and shorten up the lease when anyone is approaching. That’s all you can do. You can’t fix stupid, unfortunately.

    • Kate January 22, 2016, 5:47 am

      I remember reading once that Dachshunds were one of the most aggressive dog breeds around – more so than pit bulls, staffies or other so-called ‘dangerous’ dogs.

  • AnaMaria January 20, 2016, 10:31 am

    Ugh, I hate stories like this! In college I had a friend who was blind and used a seeing-eye dog, and people would walk up and pet her all the time, even though she was in a service-animal vest and harness. Even without the harness, if a dog clearly belongs to someone else, why would you touch it without asking?

    OP, the other person was clearly embarrassed that the dog barked and scared him, and needed someone else to blame. You can’t do anything with people who think that way except ignore them.

    • DogMom January 20, 2016, 1:36 pm

      Saw a news story this week about a disabled vet who was beaten by a father because the vet wouldn’t let the man’s little precious pet the vet’s service dog. I hope the father is jailed for a
      long, long time & his precious is adopted into a family that doesn’t resort to violence to get their way. No one should have to grow up in a home like that.

    • Jelly_Rose January 20, 2016, 3:13 pm

      Wow, people would just randomly come up and pet a seeing eye dog? That’s rude and dangerous. I read a book where some teens were hassling a blind man, trying to take his dog away from him to pet him/play with him. Another character came to the man’s rescue, using an analogy of ‘If I asked for your eyes would you give them to me?’ I read this as a kid and got the message, strange how some people don’t.

  • siamesecat2965 January 20, 2016, 10:40 am

    Unless someone specifically asks if the dog is friendly, can they pet her, not really. It sounds like he caught you off guard, and given that, I think you handled the situation just fine. I probably would have been taken aback too, as from your description, it sounds like he gave no indication he was going to stop, let alone try and pet her. He was in the wrong and was lucky your dog didn’t react, as some do.

    I would keep doing what you’re doing, politely declining when people ask to pet her etc. But other than that, i don’t see any way you can avoid what you don’t know is coming.

  • Lisa H. January 20, 2016, 10:44 am

    You didn’t do anything wrong. He was just ignorant in respect to animal communication. I was that idiot once and had my hand nipped by a dog whose space I invaded. Completely my fault and lesson learned the hard way.

  • cdubz January 20, 2016, 10:44 am

    I think your response was just fine. I’m the same way, I hate it when people don’t listen to me about my dog. Like your dog, she needs a few minutes to sniff and get used to you before she’s comfortable with you petting her, otherwise she will growl. She’s a beagle and weighs around 25 pounds, and we think based on her behavior she was also abused. She has never bitten anyone, but she will communicate that she doesn’t like you touching her. Inevitably, there is always that person who doesn’t listen, will lean down to pet her (she also hates people who hover over her, the exception being my husband and me) and get upset when she growls and bares her teeth at them. I just tell them that I warned them not to do that, and to please listen to me next time as I know my dog and how she will react.

  • Tee January 20, 2016, 10:47 am

    I have an extremely shy sheltie who likes to approach strangers on her own terms, so I’m with the “ask before petting” crowd. It’s common sense. Anyone who knows anything about dogs should know not to touch a stranger’s dog before asking, and even then to allow the dog to sniff the top of your fist before petting.

  • LeeLee88 January 20, 2016, 10:59 am

    I really don’t think there is a better way to handle it unless you somehow gain clairvoyance and can read the minds of the crazies who might try to lunge at your poor dog. That guy was dumb and in the wrong, and I hope he said what he did because was embarrassed of himself, but I tend to be a dreamer. You’re fine, just keep on keeping on.

  • Goldie January 20, 2016, 11:05 am

    The man was completely out of line! I’m pretty sure the unwritten rule is to always ask if it’s okay to say hi to a stranger’s dog (or for your dog to say hi to theirs). I have only ever asked if the other dog seemed to show interest in myself and or my dog (when I had him). And I’m pretty sure that dogs interpret a hand placed on top of their head as an act of dominance, and may react unexpectedly. I think you’re supposed to either let the dog sniff your hand first, or pet on the side of their head/body? Our dog was a Sheltie that we got from a store as a puppy, so there must’ve been some backyard breeding or there’s a chance that he was a puppy mill dog. Either way, at around 18 months of age his personality changed and he became very skittish and fearful of strangers, both people and dogs. He only became more or less social in the last two or three years of his life. (He lived to be 9.5 years.) It was pretty embarrassing when little kids would try to pet the cute Sheltie (after they’ve asked permission and I said yes) and he would run from them and hide behind me. If a random passerby on the street suddenly tried to place a hand on his head, he’d have been beyond terrified! Who does this?

    That said, when I was walking my dog, I noticed that other dog owners would cross the street, or put their dogs on a short leash, when passing a human or another dog. So I started doing the same with mine, and telling him to “be nice”, basically to keep walking and ignore the other human or dog. Not sure if it’s the proper thing to do, I was just following everyone else’s example.

  • NostalgicGal January 20, 2016, 11:09 am

    Some stupids will try to hold or pet anything without asking and think it rude that the pet is not going to go along with it.

    I usually would not suggest this but getting her a vest that says service dog in training might help. For some rejects in the deep end they will keep hands off and ask first. If they ask what she’s being trained in, you can say socialability and you hope to someday take her to visit at nursing homes.

    This may not ever happen but it might help.
    As for the dude he was totally in the wrong.
    I sometimes ‘ask’ a dog (lick the back of my hand and offer that gently with fingers loosely folded in.) and owner has said okay I can. Some will let me stroke them after that, some won’t, I read the dog to make sure they’re not giving me the hairy eyeball and ready to snap.

    • PWH January 20, 2016, 1:09 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes no amount of warning will deter some people from trying to pet or even pick up your dog or cat. I have a cat. He is a rescue and is very skittish around strangers. He might warm up to them eventually, but he wants to be left alone and come to them on his own terms (He is also not declawed). I run a freelance business out of my home and warn people about him before-hand (even offering to put him away if needed). Recently a woman came with a friend, who proceeded to pick up my cat (despite the warning). I cringed and told her “Please don’t do that”. Her response was “It’s fine, I’m a cat person” as she cradled him like he was a baby. Gah! Luckily there wasn’t an incident and my cat was relatively calm with her before running off. I can’t imagine what would have happened if he decided to hiss at her or scratch her. I’m sure it would have been my fault.

      • NostalgicGal January 20, 2016, 6:31 pm

        A good friend had remarried and his first set of kids were 5-10 years older than her set of kids. They had none together. They had a three cat household, and the old grand dame was definitely mama’s girl and though the guy had a good heart that cat had never really warmed up to him. I and some others came over frequently as guests and I WORKED on making the cat like me, and over several months I managed to do so. Getting her in my lap for lavish the love sessions. One evening I came over, had hung coat, sat down on the couch while waiting for the others to arrive. That cat appeared out of nowhere, meowed at me gently once, then jumped up into my lap and made her majesty comfortable. Both my hands went into her fur for the favorite skritch massage places, and the guy had his jaw swinging in the breeze. She had not done that to ANYONE not even his wife (he called her to witness the full purr skritch massage session we had going with her long black glossy fur floating everywhere.)

        Moral, creatures can learn to like you and reciprocate, but it takes time and patience and the willingness to work on it. PWH, if your furrkid is not declawed and you have a business in your home, you might be advised as a matter of course to exclude your purrie from where you meet/have clients in your home while they are there. Yes if he’d scratched your customer even though they initiated it (picking the cat up despite being warned) you’re liable. Fur babies sometimes need to not be around.

  • Anne January 20, 2016, 11:09 am

    I think you did well. I would never just go and pet someone’s animal without asking. I usually speak to the owner and the dog (to get an idea of their mood). Then I pet their animal, why put myself at risk when you just don’t know a dog’s history.
    My dog is not one to want to start loving on someone he doesn’t know, he does the sniff, polite wag and then we are off. At the park we go to, most of the owners somewhat know each other/or the dogs so we give a little salutations and carry on.
    I always say thank you to children who ask first before petting and ask the parents if it is alright with them. My dog is very cute (think Smooth Collie mix) and calm when it comes to kids and other dogs, especially small dogs. But he is pretty big, about 70 pounds so people are a little cautious. Luckily, he was found as a stray, as a puppy so we know his background from 4 months on.

  • Cathy R January 20, 2016, 11:14 am

    I believe that the tradition is to tie a yellow ribbon on your dog’s leash. This signifies an animal that should not be approached without owner’s permission.

    Thanks for rescuing your pup (from one doxie cross owner to another). They are great dogs.

  • LadyV January 20, 2016, 11:19 am

    OP, I think your response – stuttered or not – was perfect. Despite never having owned a dog, I still get crazy with people who feel it’s perfectly fine to pet a dog without asking first – especially since those same people are the ones who would scream bloody murder if the dog bit them or one of their children. You did NOTHING wrong – the blame is completely on the idiot that tried to pet your dog. He’s lucky he didn’t lose a finger.

  • Shannan January 20, 2016, 11:24 am

    It is because of stories like yours that I always ask someone if I may pet their dog BEFORE actually reaching out to pet it. I don’t care if I’m at a dog park or the vet or anywhere else. I always ask. I also teach my son to ask and then to listen to what the owner says. I can’t imagine getting upset with a dog owner because I tried to pet the dog without permission and the dog barks at me.

  • elizabeth January 20, 2016, 11:28 am

    I think you handled the situation well. I was taught from a young age that you always ask before you try to pet a dog you don’t know. Your response was perfect.

  • Wendy B January 20, 2016, 11:29 am

    I think you handled it well, personally.

  • Devin January 20, 2016, 11:50 am

    When you walk your dog on public side walks, walk with your dog on the opposite side of you as oncoming pedestrians. That way a person who tries to pet your dog has to reach across your body. If a person reaches for you dog, position your body to block the unwanted touch and that will give you a second to explain your dog doesn’t like to be petted. If a person persists, continue saying no and walk away. It’s also helpful to have a harness so if you need to pull your dog away quickly you aren’t choking them, and you have greater control over the dog. Don’t walk on busy streets or take the dog into crowds or off leash areas. People often interpret pet friendly for ‘friendly pet’ and will approach your dog without asking.
    I have seen some articles talking about “yellow ribbons” but people who aren’t familiar with dogs (enough to know to ask before petting a strange dog) won’t know what it means (and it has been used against dogs targeting them as ‘mean’ or ‘aggressive’).

  • Ultrapongo January 20, 2016, 12:02 pm

    Maybe he should be neutered so he can not reproduce, and perhaps calm down a bit. The man, that is.

    • kidzx5 January 20, 2016, 12:32 pm


    • Annie January 20, 2016, 1:19 pm

      LOL! Best comment ever!

    • Mary January 20, 2016, 5:28 pm

      Great suggestion!

    • Dee January 20, 2016, 6:19 pm

      Ultrapongo – That’s hilarious! Too bad it can’t be easily used as a response in situations like the OP has encountered.

    • NostalgicGal January 20, 2016, 6:34 pm

      Yes yes yes yes oh yes…… thank you, best laugh I’ve had in awhile.

  • starstruck January 20, 2016, 12:05 pm

    Your response was perfect, in my opinion. Even my kids know better than to touch a strange dog without first asking the owner. I thought that was Common knowledge. And if you had him on a leash u were absolutely in the right. He’s lucky ur dog didnt bite him.

  • Sejeroo January 20, 2016, 12:06 pm

    I think you were very polite!

    Oh, how I wish that all people knew better than to touch a strange dog without permission!

    I would certainly not stop walking her, and quite honestly he’s lucky all she did was bark!

    I do know there is a movement to have dogs who should not be approached have yellow leashes, or a yellow ribbon/marker on their leashes as an indicator.

    The only other thing I can think of is some kind of vest she could wear when she’s out walking indicating that she shouldn’t be approached. I know it kind of sucks that you would need to do that, as the dog didn’t do anything wrong, but maybe it would protect her from unwanted touching.

  • Sandisadie January 20, 2016, 12:07 pm

    In my experience your reply was right on! We are told to tell young children not to pet strange dogs, and cats, without permission of the owner. That man got what he needed from you.

  • mark January 20, 2016, 12:07 pm

    This guy strikes me as a special snowflake, they are very hard to guard against. I wouldn’t stress this much since there isn’t much you can do. The only thing I would worry about is if your dog is a bite risk, and take reasonable precautions against that.

  • Jennifer January 20, 2016, 12:39 pm

    I feel like people are the same way with babies, wanting to come up and touch them whenever they see them. It hasn’t happened too often to me, but there have been a few instances when someone will come up and want to pinch my daughter’s cheeks or give her a little pat on the head. Usually I can pull her away in time, but it still shocks me when perfect strangers think they have the right to come up and touch your kid just because he or she is a baby.

    • JD January 20, 2016, 1:57 pm

      They do that if you have cute little dogs, too. It’s so frustrating.

  • ketchup January 20, 2016, 12:46 pm

    Oooh that’s so infuriating! He was wrong! And when you call him out on it, he becomes difficult. I hate it when people refuse to acknowledge their own mistakes. It’s frustrating. It makes the situation unresolved, and leaves you with this feeling.

    You were an unsuspecting pet parent. There was no way you would respond usefully, due to the abruptness of what happened. Stuttering is a logical response. I’d have done the exact same thing.

  • b-rock January 20, 2016, 12:47 pm

    My mother used to have a rottweiler named Abby (we always had rotties when I was growing up, wonderful dogs!) who as she got older started to have some dementia. The dog, I mean, not my mother. Anyway, Abby starting randomly snapping at people who approached her head, even my family. My mom was the only one she was always ok with. When my mom would take her out for walks, she would have people walk up to pet her or ask if they could pet her, and my mom would pull the leash back and say, “No, I’m sorry but she bites, please do not pet her.” And literally, more often than not, people would so “Oh no, it’s ok, I’m a dog person” and then KNEEL DOWN IN FRONT OF ABBY’S FACE and try to pet her. A full grown rottweiler, whose owner has just told you will bite! Luckily she never bit anyone, but it was awful, b/c of course if she had she 1) could seriously hurt someone, and 2) would probably have to be destroyed. All because people are stupid.

    • Devin January 20, 2016, 5:22 pm

      Your family is VERY lucky Abby never bit anyone. A dog that has shown aggressive tendencies should not be taken out in public for any reason. At any time Abby could have lashed out to a passerby since her behavior had become erratic due to dementia. In most municipalities, a dog that bites will be put down (especially if upon examination the dog is aggressive/diseased/demented) and the owners held criminally and/or civilly liable for all damages, even if the dog is ‘provoked’.

      • NostalgicGal January 20, 2016, 6:52 pm

        One place we lived, not long after we moved in, the couple to the other side had been married for a few years and he had a rottie, that someone else had been taking care of for him since puppyhood. She didn’t know about this until she came home one day and there was a kennel in the backyard with this handsome dog, who’d never been trained or disciplined because ‘he didn’t want to break the dog’s spirit’. It was mostly unmanageable, and when the dog was about three he went for national guard deployment and she had lined up with some really well known training kennel (who had raving reviews about how good they were) that as soon as he got on the plane she took the dog to the kennel and had prepaid for 16 weeks (due to get the dog back the day before he got back. In three days they called and said come get him, we’ll give you a full refund. Then they adopted a baby.
        He left her once, divorce proceedings going and he moved out, and left her with the dog. Who was getting arthritis and couldn’t move much, and couldn’t be taken to a vet. It had learned to be civil to the woman who had been feeding it for years…. he didn’t take care of it once it came home. They had built a double fence and buried chain link to prevent him from being able to get out and tried to give distance between the cedar picket and chain link so nobody could get a finger in there. Someone walking their dog (kneehigh) with their preteen kid and were stopping where people had dogs to let the dogs smell and such and they passed me and were going to stop and I shouted NO!’ Woman and kid and dog stopped and looked at me and I said he’s a good dog but he’s not a nice dog, stay away from his fence. Oh. They bought a clue then I think about some of the rest of their walk, I hope. As for the dog he got so he basically couldn’t move (sirens and he’d just lay there and howl, he couldn’t get up). The guy got back together with her and refused to let the dog be put down, so. Thankfully he passed one night. The guy that owned him I wish could have had some charges put against him.. A properly raised and trained rottie is a lovely animal and often makes a good family pet but Sorry about being so long but that one ticked me off so bad and there was little I could do about it. He was provided for, had a run and shelter, was regularly fed and water available and his area cleaned up often. He showed no signs of being beaten or other, so. Law enforcement couldn’t do a thing….

        • b-rock January 21, 2016, 2:12 pm

          That’s awful, how sad! My other response in this thread was meant to be a response to Devin, by the way. Yours had not yet posted when I typed it this morning.

          That is just tragic. I had so many great experiences with ours growing up, we had several of them over the years (7 puppies and a momma at one point!) and they were always such wonderful dogs.

      • b-rock January 20, 2016, 11:51 pm

        Well, yes. But she was in a city. She had to be taken out. And she wasn’t aggressive unless someone approached her head (and rarely even then). After several incidents of stupid people attempting to pet her despite warning (during which time she never once snapped at or bit anyone) my mother started muzzling her for walks, which was really unfair to the dog, but again, because of people who think they are special for some reason was the responsible thing to do. My point was more that people shouldn’t pet strange dogs, and especially not large dogs when owners have specifically told them that she bites. But the special snowflakes out there seem to think the rules don’t apply to them, so there you have it.

  • lakey January 20, 2016, 12:59 pm

    You did exactly what you should have, told him he should ask first. Most people, including children now know to ask before petting a dog. There will always be a few people who don’t do what they should. As long as you make a reasonable statement without yelling or swearing, you’re okay.

    I have a beagle from rescue and she is similar to other rescue dogs mentioned here. She is friendly and loving, but can be timid around strangers and other dogs and duck if approached too quickly. The best thing I see now, is that all of the children I run into when I’m walking her ask first about petting. A lot of them even know to hold their hand out and let her sniff it before petting her.

  • MissJagger January 20, 2016, 1:04 pm

    I think you handled the situation as well as could be expected. Did this man expect you to snatch the dog up while warning him to stay back? I thought it was common knowledge that one asks the owner before petting his or her dog and respects the wishes of said owner. That being said, I have a story to share as well. My dog resembles a big adorable teddy bear (proud dog mom here, no judgements please!), albeit a 110 pound bear. However, he is very skittish around new people. One day on a walk a husband and wife approached us and attempted to pet him, as they got close I warned them that he is very nervous and they should not touch him. They argued that they love dogs and he would like them. I continued to caution them as I tried to calmly lead Grizzly away but they continued to persue, growing more insistant that they should pet him. Finally he had enough and let out a loud warning bark while cowering behind me. This prompted the couple to berate me for having such an out of control and unfriendly dog and to tell me that I should never let him out of my yard again. The shouted this as Grizzly and I quietly walked away to contiue our outing without further incident. What can you do? Some people are just strange.

  • Annie January 20, 2016, 1:17 pm

    I have pet rats, and when my cousin was and his 3 year old son was staying with us, the 3 year really wanted to see them. I explained to him that he could not to poke his finger through the cage. They are only used to having food shoved in their face, so they will definitely bite a finger that comes through the cage. No malice, but it would hurt just the same.

    The 3 year old had no trouble following the instructions. His dad did, though….and almost got bit. I wasn’t apologetic at all.

    • Ergala January 21, 2016, 2:51 pm

      We have pet rats as well…..and we had two that were biters. Down to one now and she is absolutely aggressive. I took her in as a foster. We have friends who bring their kids over (we have two kids of our own as well) and the children will open the cage and stick their hands in or face in. The cage is huge, it’s a ferret cage pretty much. On wheels on the floor and goes halfway up the wall. Out of the 4 remaining rats one is the biter and she will act all sweet and sociable…until you get close. She knows better than to bite me but everyone else is fair game. I tell everyone to please please not put their hands in, near or on the cage. I always get “Oh I don’t mind a nibble!” in return or “I’ll be careful!” as they open the door anyways. NO! Rats can chew through cement. That cage is just for show….if they wanted out they’d be out. Do not mess with my aggressive girl. The only reason I still have her is because she is such a liability to rehome. My kids know better than to get near her.

  • The Other Elizabeth January 20, 2016, 1:24 pm

    Unless a dog specifically comes up to me showing all the signs of happy interest (wagging tail, doggie smile, and either full eye contact or the slightly downcast head of a more submissive dog [hard to describe, but you recognize it when it happens]), I always ask before trying to approach a dog, and even then I stick my hand out for them to sniff before trying to touch them. It’s a good gauge to determine whether they are wary or skittish, and it’s polite. If the dog isn’t interested, I leave it be. Sometimes the dog will get used to me sitting on its couch and talking to its owner and become affectionate.

    Even with happy dogs you should ask first. That was drilled into me early in childhood NEVER to approach a strange dog unless the owner is right there and says in exact language that it is okay to pet the animal. It’s common sense. Or at least it is to any person who knows the slightest thing about animals.

  • AveMaria January 20, 2016, 2:12 pm

    We have a 90 pound, 18-month old black lab mix that we adopted a little over a year ago. He loves people, other dogs, not so much.

    We get the rogue petters on almost every walk. I walk him so I’m between my dog and people going the other way, and when they try to pet without permission, I step off the path to put distance between us and tell them he’s very excitable, and I can’t risk them getting hurt.

    But my other pet peeve with people is what I call “little dog syndrome.” “Oh it’s ok, my dog is little, he just wants to play with your dog!” “It’s ok, my dog is little, he doesn’t need to be on a leash.” NO, it’s NOT ok. I say so in no uncertain terms, and add “If it were my dog chasing YOUR dog, growling and with bared teeth, you’d be calling the cops. If I let my dog run around off-leash, and he charged you and your dog, you’d be calling the cops.”

    • NostalgicGal January 20, 2016, 7:07 pm

      The one big burg we lived in had some dog run parks. ‘airlock’ double gated passages, and stuff to pick up after your critter, and plenty of space, even a few track lanes along the outside edge of the fence if you wanted to jog with your dog. They could be unleashed fully inside the park.

      One woman brought in what looked like a husky mix, and he’d latch onto another dog and it wasn’t light play. The other dog would be screaming and the other owner would be over there chasing the dog off and claiming theirs. This happened several times in a row, some people were now holding their dogs and asking her to remove her dog. “oh but he’s just playing’.

      A few more dogs got chased off, some put the leash on their dog and took them out of the park, then it got ahold of someone’s miniature poodle. The owner waded in there and started nailing the other dog with her purse and kicked it once to get it to let go of her dog, and that dog got pretty tore up. Police arrived about then, someone had finally called and she was still going ‘oh but he was just PLAYING!’ Out of the ones of us still there were 17 complaints filed plus the poodle owner. She had her dog destroyed by court order and she had to pay the full vet bill for that poodle. (we figured at least half of those that could have filed complaints had left already and we told the police so)

      Most anyone else after one or two screaming dogs should have the sense to know that wasn’t dog play and needed to take control of her dog. So same thing on sidewalk or dog park, not all dogs take to others easily (human, dog, cat) and some not all the time.

      • EchoGirl January 21, 2016, 7:26 pm

        A close friend of mine was injured in a similar situation, trying to rescue her Border Collie puppy from a German Shepherd that badly scratched up her arms in the fight. The owner actually ran off with his dog before anyone could stop him and was never caught or forced to make any restitution for the medical bills for my friend or her puppy (who thankfully survived with no permanent injury, but has hated the dog park ever since).

        • NostalgicGal January 23, 2016, 6:06 pm

          They finally had to put a park employee at that one park, who had walkie-talkie straight to the police, and after about another six months they closed it (removed the fence and everything) and put in the paper that due to complaints, injured dogs and owners and others that were irresponsible for the actions of their pets, that the park was being demolished. We had already long before quit even trying to go to that one.

          And for lordy sake, neuter or spay your pet! I guess some of the injuries had been over a female in heat being taken in there and the unneutered males fighting over her.

  • Kai Lowell January 20, 2016, 2:58 pm

    You were fine, OP. I think you handled it well.

    I’d love to ask “who DOES that??” about the idiot man, but unfortunately, it seems like far too many people do…

  • Ergala January 20, 2016, 3:02 pm

    I have the opposite issue. We have a purebred Chihuahua rescue. He came from an absolutely horrible situation way down south and was abused. He’s 5 years old and we just got him this past fall. For all that he is incredibly friendly and honestly just wants every single person he meets to pet him and love on him and pick him up. Not exactly normal for the breed. People assume he will be nippy and angry and become very nervous around him. Before they even get to know him they make comments about Chi’s being vicious little rat dogs. Um he isn’t…..and the way his tail is going 200 mph back and forth and he is shaking from pure joy at your presence should show that.

    When we first adopted him we got a special vest though that said he was a rescue and that he was timid. It worked wonders. People were cautious and those who just want to pick up small dogs without asking asked first. We no longer need the vest and we use a regular harness. People forget that cats and dogs are living beings and deserve space and respect.

  • Heather January 20, 2016, 3:15 pm

    First of all… well done on taking in the dog. When so many people want dogs as accessories, I’ve always said that the best dog to have is the dog that needs a home. Growing up, my family always had dogs. I have dogs. Right now, I have two big dogs, both rescues. I am very comfortable around dogs and always have been. But I would never attempt to touch an unfamiliar dog. Just because I know I’m nice, doesn’t mean the dog knows. I’m not a stranger to myself… but I am to them. And of course, some dogs have special issues or are performing special services. I always… always… always ask. I think you responded as best you could. But remember: no matter if the person is an idiot… if anything were to happen, they would get the benefit of the doubt. There are quite a few suggestions here that seem like good ones. Good luck.

  • essie January 20, 2016, 3:55 pm

    “If you know your dog is like that, you should have pulled her away!”

    Dude, what’s your problem? Like any other gentle lady, she told you “Don’t touch me!” and removed herself as far as possible from your vicinity. If you’d lunged at ME with your hands out to touch, I’d have popped you one.

    If you don’t like ladies treating you like a pervert, stop acting like one!

  • Tara January 20, 2016, 4:10 pm

    If you pet a strange dog without asking the owner, you should be aware that you might get bit. He has no one to blame but himself.

  • Cat January 20, 2016, 4:25 pm

    If only people were as trainable as dogs are! All I can think of is what has already been suggested, put yourself between the stranger and the dog.
    I had a cat who insisted on being walked on a leash at odd hours. We were walking down the sidewalk around midnight when a car pulled into a driveway and a lady and a very drunken gentleman got out of the car. (She was driving.)
    He said, “Ooooh! A kitty!” and plopped down on the sidewalk to pet the cat. Kitty did not like the alcohol aroma and promptly walked off. I was glad that the man was unable to follow us and his wife hauled him into the house.

  • Cat2 January 20, 2016, 4:27 pm

    Frankly, I’m impressed that you got yourself together to respond as well as you did. The only thing that would have made your response better would be to add “If I’d had any idea you were going to, I WOULD have pulled her away. Small animals are like small kids. You startle them and they get scared.”

  • AC January 20, 2016, 4:27 pm

    I am one of those people who love to say hello to dogs I come across. I make a point of asking permission and the dog’s name before greeting him. I do not have a dog of my own, but I sometimes take dogs belonging to friends or family members out for a walk. When they want to greet fellow canines I ask the owner if it is okay if both of us say hello before we get too close.

    It isn’t a question of etiquette, it is common sense regarding the safety of the dogs and people involved.