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Old 26.08.2019, 00:25
meloncollie meloncollie is offline
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Re: Can I pet people's dogs?

Always, always, always ask the owner first!

Keep at a sensible distance, stand still, and ask if you may greet the dog. I can't help you with the French, I hope someone fluent will come along soon. In German it is something like 'Darf ich grŁezi sagen? Or, 'Darf ich ihn bitte streicheln?'

If the answer is yes, ask the owner how the dog should be greeted. Even friendly dogs might be wary if your approach is too rough, too grabby, too in-your-face - or simply not what they are used to. Please listen to the owner, do as he or she says.

If the owner says no to your request, please respect that and move away. Don't try to have a conversation, don't try to convince the owner, just move on.

Sure, there are lots of happy-go-lucky well-balanced social dogs out there who would relish the attention. Enjoy your interaction with them. But make no assumptions - always ask!


By the way, owners might not want contact for a variety of reasons, even when the dog is friendly.

I am one of those owners who do not let strangers approach, let alone touch, my dogs.

Some of mine have a few screws loose, some are terrified of strangers, so while I am working on their rehabilitation I keep those dogs away from anyone I don't know well. No matter how good your intentions might be, the wrong kind of encounter could undo months - years - of rehab work. It's a matter of safety - theirs and yours.

But even with my friendly social dogs I do not allow contact with strangers, because my experience here in Switzerland has taught me that I cannot not trust anyone I do not know.

Back in the dark days after Oberglatt, a seemingly sweet old lady asked if she could pet my ancient wobbly sheltie. Since St. Swimbo was a perfect angel, I said yes, and asked Swimbo to sit, which she did, nicely. At which point the (insert expletive here) raised her wanderstock and started hitting my poor girl.

If you have run into dog haters out and about you will understand why some of us are skeptical of strangers. People have done terrible things to dogs out of a twisted sense of self-righteousness.

If an owner says that he or she does not want contact, please respect that. It's not about you, it's about what is best for these individual dogs.


I'm sure you will find plenty of owners who will be happy to let you interact with their dogs - but (broken record time) ask first!
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