There is epidemic happening across the country and no one is safe. It’s occurring on crowded city sidewalks and spacious country walking trails. It doesn’t discriminate based on race, age, or economic status.
Innocent dogs and their owners are being terrorized, chased down the street, pinned into corners by…other dog owners.
But, you ask, don’t all dogs like to meet, greet, and play with other dogs, even unfamiliar ones? How rude of them not to greet me and my dog! Not so, kindhearted dog lovers, not so at all.
In every city, town, and suburb, loving, law abiding families share their lives with dogs that, for a variety of reasons, cannot or would rather not, socialize with other dogs.
Today I call on all dog lovers to take a stand on behalf of dogs that walk in public while they simultaneously cope with one or more of the following:
service or working dogs
injuries and painful physical conditions
intolerance of other animals
recovery from surgery
fearful of unfamiliar or rowdy dogs
aging and el
learning self control around other dogs
are owned by people that want to be left alone
To keep it simple, these dogs and their owners shall be known as Dogs in Need of Space (DINOS)™
These DINOS have every right to walk the streets, using a standard 4-6 foot leash, without interacting with strangers, human or canine.
And yet…they are hounded, day after day, by cheery, well meaning dog owners who insist on meeting them.
Despite frantic efforts to cross the street or hiding between parked cars, DINOS are chased down by other people walking dogs, who refuse to believe that there is someone out there that does not want to meet them.
How do you spot these terrorists? You can recognize these people by their battle cry, “My dog is friendly!”
Henceforth known as My Dog is Friendly (MDIF).
Pick any corner of any town in America and you’re likely to see a scene similar to this one:
A DINOS is working on his manners, let’s say it’s leash reactivity. He has some issues with strange dogs, but is in training so that he can learn to stay calm in their presence. The DINOS owner spots another dog coming and, like their trainer instructed them, they create some distance and do a sit-stay with eye contact. The goal: to keep cool while the other dog passes.
But they didn’t realize they were being stalked by an eager MDIF.
Look! There’s they are now, crossing the street, speed walking in a beeline right towards the seated DINOS, their own dog straining at the collar.
The DINOS owner steps further away, trying again to create distance. Any anthropologist (or kindergartner) can read the clear body language in play from the DINOS team. Observe: no eye contact or smiling, they are facing away from MDIF, glancing frantically around, looking for an escape.
MDIF is impervious to body language and insists on coming closer.
The signals from the DINOS owner become escalated, and like a dog losing its patience with a rude puppy, the DINOS owner issues a quiet, but firm warning, “My dog doesn’t like other dogs.”
Unable to understand their native language, MDIF continues their advances until DINOS is trapped and begins to lose his ability to stay cool. See: lunging and barking, coupled with awkward struggles to get away. Now, like a dog that’s being humped relentlessly by a teenage dog with no manners, the DINOS owner snaps, so the message is clear, “Stop! Don’t come any closer!”
And, without fail, MDIF calls out their cheerful battle cry, “My dog is friendly!” Their plea is received by the back of the DINOS team as they jog away.
Then, with a hurt look, the MDIF mutters, “What’s your dog’s problem?”
The DINOS owner, shaken, wonders why they are working so hard on improving their dog’s manners when the humans around them have the social skills of, well, a dog with no social skills.
A brief interlude from the author:
Quickly, let’s turn to the similar epidemic of off leash dogs that are not under voice control. It’s the law: Put your dog on a leash. No one but ME gets to decide who my dog interacts with. Not you, with the “friendly” dog who just wants to say “hi” or you, with the dog who “knows” not to leave your property, but charges me up my porch steps. I, and I alone, will decide if my dog will be interacting with your dog and when you let your dog run loose you are ROBBING ME of my right to choose whether or not we want to interact with your dog. Not cool.
And now back to our Public Service Announcement:
Dogs In Need Of Space are good dogs. They may not want to socialize with your dog, but they have the right to walk with their owners, on leash, without harassment from strangers who insist on a forced greeting. Their owners do not want to cause a scene or yell, in a panic, at strangers. They don’t want their dog to act inappropriately, get injured, backslide on their training, or frighten anyone. Please, dog lovers of the world, allow these dogs and their people some space and, if they are walking or turning away from you, keep your dog close by and pass them without comment.
All they want is to walk their dogs in peace, without having to hide under a park bench in order to escape the relentless pursuit of dogs owners calling out…
“My dog is friendly!”
If your dogs are DINOS, join the movement on Facebook!
You can also:
Take the online class!
Read the book!
Sign up for DINOS-related emails!
DINOS™ and DINOS: Dogs In Need of Space™
Copyright Jessica Dolce 2017
Wishing you safe, happy walking!
this is so awesome and so true. I keep good control over my dog but it can go either way when a MDIF is around. Why a lot of people do not understand this I will never now. My dog may be a DINO but he loves to play with dogs that have manners. Dogs with super high energy that are bigger then him cause him to get on guard. Dogs that approach slowly and with manners he loves to be around. There is a leash law for a reason people. And those flex leash all need to burn in a big pit. How are you keeping and eye out on your dog that is 20 yards away and got there without you noticing.
Glad you enjoyed it Lauren! We’ll take on those horrible flex-leads in another blog post. They shouldn’t be street legal, in our humble opinion!
It’s not the flexi lead that’s the problem, it’s the idiot using it. Some of us actually DO understand how to use the button that stops the lead from extending. What shouldn’t be street legal is idiocy.
I have never been able to trust those things since my dog was able to snap the lead after an unleashed Burmese Mountain Dog decide she wanted to pay with my dog while we where walking by in a local park. Even though guy was holding his dog she still managed to get her 80lb self out of his grip and chase my dog on his leash. He also lost his tags on that leash that day. I just like a regular trusty chain, leather, nylon leash, not a string.
A couple of helpful suggestions: A flexi lead is not for walking a dog on the street or confined space, it is too difficult to control the dog/keep it close. A flexi lead is for controlling a dog in an open space, for exercise while still obeying on-leash policies/laws/etiquette, and should not allow the dog to encounter DINOS. Also, very important, keep your dogs’ identification on a dedicated collar = do not attach a leash to this collar. That way, if the dog slips out of or breaks the leash collar, he still has his identification. 🙂 MDIFs are the most annoying “dog people”!! For one thing, they are looking at the wrong end of the dog while they are trying to make that determination. A dog wagging it’s tail is not necessarily a friendly dog!
AGREE AGREE AGREE !!!
Oh how true! As a pro trainer I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been “stalked” by people and their dogs at the end of a retractable leash. It also bears mentioning the well intentioned but foolish people that think that they can just come up and start petting your dog. All dogs must LOVE strangers sneaking up on them and touching them, right? Great post. Thanks for expressing what so many of us have wanted to say LOUDLY and sometimes rudely.
Thanks Lisa! I think a lot of us have been saying it loudly and, in a panic, rudely, for a long time, but MDIFs have selective hearing! We need to get even louder – hence the blog and Facebook page!
I have no problem saying it loudly or rudely. keep your hands off of my dog and kid.
An excellent article that every breathing human should read. This includes children. My dog may be the cutest thing on earth but he’s afraid of children. I resent having my dog on leash in the open space when some jerk and his/her off-leash dogs tells me not to get so uptight because his/her dog is friendly.
I’d like to make a deal. I’ll promise not to let my dog hurt anyone else’s dog or child if you just give us the courtesy of deciding who we want to interact with.
I think that’s a very fair deal! I’ve been teaching dog safety lesson for kids for a few years and think it should be mandatory for all children to learn how to politely and safely interact (or not) with dogs. Dogs and kids would both benefit from that kind of lesson!
As the technical advisor for the book ‘May I Pet Your Dog? (The How-To Guide For Kids Meeting Dogs And Dogs Meeting Kids)’, by Stephanie Calmenson, I highly recommend that publication for children. And I might add that it is a testimony to the “politically ‘correct’ “(!) times in which we are living that people and their children have such disrespect for others that this is a “new idea”! Fifty years ago, it wasn’t a new idea for a child to ask if he might handle something that belonged to someone else, including someone else’s dog. Today, this book, when published, was, shockingly, I thought, lauded as a “first of its kind”, offering(are you sitting?) a “revolutionary” approach (good manners)!
How can we, as an allegedly “politically correct” nation, have such bad manners?!
But dog owners also need to get less defensive their dogs, too! As in, I am a vet, and I am constantly insisting that my children need to ASK dog owners whether it is all right to pet their dogs, and to do so from a small distance, so that if it is NOT okay, they are not right in the dog’s space while they’re asking. And so many owners react badly to the idea that their dog might not be friendly. “Well, OF COURSE my dog is friendly!” Not exactly a great way to reinforce that my children should ask first….Just say, “Yes, it’s okay – thanks for asking first.” Or “No, my dog doesn’t really do well with kids” – whatever’s appropriate.
I also blame the parents of small children who see me coming with my two dogs and just let the child start running towards my dogs. My one is very friendly, but not used to children. My male is leash reactive (working on it), and is not used to children. Sometimes I just say no – don’t come any closer which does nothing. I have to yell out to the parent that my dog is NOT friendly. Then the parent pulls in their child. When I am walking that dog, I can tell when he is going to bark and lunge. Most times I walk away from the person/dog approaching and make him sit and not bark. Seems to be easier with humans, but he is not good with most dogs. I’ve never had a dog react like this, so it has been both frustrating and a lot of work. But he is a sweet dog and I love him. I will continue to work with him and move out of the way of MDIFs!!!
Hi Pat, if you haven’t seen this page yet, here are some helpful resources for working with a reactive dog: http://dogsinneedofspace.com/suggested-reading/
I often tell my students “My dog is FRIENDLY” really means “my dog wouldn’t come when called if I fell down on the ground and turned into a prime rib.” Thanks for an excellent article I will be sharing on my DOGTRAIN FB page.
Ha!! Exactly!! And thank you for sharing – let’s make this message wide spread!
I love dogs. But I follow the no touch, talk, or eye contact rule with unknown dogs.
I’ve become friends with a few DINOs by following the above.
Very true. A lot of DINOS, mine included, need space and slowness in order to feel safe meeting new people (or dogs). We wish everyone was as smart as you!
Brilliant article – should be required reading for anyone with a dog. Love your list of reasons a dog may not want to be bothered by others – because it is not just those who don’t like other dogs. As you point out there are lots of reasons why DINOS should not be subjected to MDIFs. The bottom line is that it is just plain rude to invade someone’s space uninvited!
Thank you Janet! I personally have a leash reactive dog, but as a dog walker, I know that there are a million reasons why a dog might need extra space, like recent surgery or, my personal favorite…an owner that just doesn’t want to be bothered by anyone! ; )
Ultimately, I’d like to see other dog owners be more respectful of DINOS, both by giving them space and refraining from criticism. DINOS are GOOD dogs too!
Well stated, will add your blog to my small (quality) blogroll.
My Male Wemaraner wasnt good with larger dogs at all so most of the time stayed on a lead to prevent any dog or himself getting hurt so yes really did annoy me when other dogs owners feel its fine for their dog to run over to us despite my askinng can you stop your dog please & would get ” they’re friendly only want to play” (thats the polite version) I never said they werent but obviously my dog is leashed for a reason & thats cos he isnt so now call your dog away please due to the fact I also had 2 female weimys & believe me if he starts they will join in do you want yours to be hurt ??? Honestly some owners really dont have the brains or thought of this happening to their ever so friendly dog caused me so much worry incase of anything happening I stopped walking at normal daytime hours & would go 4am-ish or really late at night which isnt always safe for myself but couldnt stop the worry of how bad a dog might suffer if all my 3 set about them so I say to those dog owners just stop & think before you answer their friendly as this just pee’s us off !! I often use to feel like just unclipping his lead then but I wouldnt tho some might & dogs will hurt or kill so keep yours safe & away from those on leashes its ever so simple !!!!!!!!
People seem to think they have a right to invade our space, but as DINOS we are keeping our dogs leashed and in our control for their safety and yours…don’t you wish that wasn’t so hard for MDIFs to understand?!
DOG!!! I hope this “goes viral” and fosters a little more peace in the world.
Thanks! I’m working on it. Our new facebook page is blowing up – DINOS Unite!
UGH!! I live next to a dog wash. My yard is fenced. I have 3 dogs…..you would NOT (or perhaps you would) believe the number of people who try to bring their dogs over to the fence to say “Hi” to my dogs. UNREAL!! This is MY dogs space. MDIFs drive me absolutely crazy!
wow. that sounds like a nightmare!!
Sounds oh so familiar. Walking on the beach and my pup in a sit stay waiting for another walker & her dog to go by only to have her bring her dog directly to us because my dog needs to practice another dog approaching! Confused look when I signaled for them to keep going and then finally yelling for her to stay away! Or being chased twice by unleashed & 1 unattended dogs while trying for an early morning walk in our neighborhood. One dog dragged (on the ground) its owner toward us and the other bared its teeth and chased us for 5 minutes until a passerby drove his truck between us and the offending dog. We finally stopped trying to go for walks in our neighborhood. Sad because my fearfully aggressive pup was doing so much better.
You hit the MDIFs on the head – why do they insist on going out of their way and coming over to us?! And I’m sorry about the off leash dogs…Many of us are yard-bound for the same reason, which only perpetuates our dog’s lack of practice in social settings. Frustrating!
I’ve been chased by dogs when I wasn’t walking a dog. I also got told off by a lady when I suggested using a lead for her dogs, after they ran into the road and I narrowly avoided hitting two of them. No one seems to think the law applies to them. If they can avoid getting caught, then it’s ok to ignore it. The leash law applies in your front yard too folks, really. Dogs are territorial. It’s their job to protect their home. In any event, I quit walking dogs years ago. Now, we live in an area with primarily wooden fences and lots of dogs get loose. Then, there’s my pet peeve the electric fence, which may keep your dog in (or not, since I know of two killed recently that broke through), but it won’t keep other dogs or predators out. I’ll add you to my blog roll too. Thanks for trying to educate more people.
Oy. Those electric fences are so scary. When I moved from Philly to Maine, I got my first taste of dogs charging me through those fences – not only do they break through, but even if they don’t, it’ll make your heart stop watching a dog tear after you while you wonder if the “fence” will stop them!
I am spreading the word and sharing this on my Facebook. Great blog.
thanks so much!
My dog loves other dogs and behaves like a champ around other dogs on the street. But it still annoys me to no end when an owner lets their dog walk right up to her with the “He/she is friendly” justification. I don’t even care that my dog isn’t a DINOS – it makes it almost impossible for me to keep teaching and reinforcing the rules of polite interactions with strangers!
I have the same problem–we’re training a puppy and working on social etiquette. But she’s learned to jump on people because others 1) randomly approach her; 2) encourage it; 3) won’t listen if I politely tell them NOT to pet her until she sits and/or 4) ignore me if I tell them we’re training our little pup and to please leave her alone. She’s just not well mannered yet–she hasn’t had the chance to learn how to be. As someone else said: thinking a dog is cute or believing that you’re awesome with *all* dogs doesn’t give you free license to approach whatever dog you like. If the owner asks you not to, don’t. And as an introvert dog owner who “wants to be left alone” (loved that last reason!!!), the assumption that all dog owners are extroverts who just want to talk to everybody gets old really, really quickly.
I am going to respectfully disagree on a point. I think it’s unfair to expect people to recognize body language. If a person is that rude to begin with, and let’s not lump all dog owners into one group here because I rarely meet people who do this, don’t rely on body language. Speak up! Say it quickly and loudly. STOP. Do not come closer! Why in the world would a good owner not be the best advocate for their dog? If it takes being assertive and you come across as rude, so be it.
my mom does that all the time when she is walking my dog and apparently that is not enough because the still let there dog get extremely close. Well the dog isn’t on a leash so yea its very close.
Lori, I hear you and I promise that we’re also speaking up, waving arms, saying “stop!” too. This blog has a little humor in it, so of course I advocate speaking up and being clear. No need for others to be mind readers. But it is hard to understand why someone would approach another person that has gone out of their way to create distance from them, let’s say by walking off the sidewalk into the grass, when that person has given them no invitation to engage with them. If I saw a stranger look at me, turn the other way, and avoid eye contact, I wouldn’t insist on saying “hi!”. And yet, as a dog walker, I see this kind of obliviousness to body language all day every day.
My dog recently obtained his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) award. So he is fine with another polite dog. However, he still resents overly friendly or young unmannered dogs and I have to keep him in his comfort zone. It’s my responsibility. It would be easier if he were like my last dog (a lab, who considered every new person and every new dog a potential best friend), but he is not. It’s not because he hasn’t been socialized, he has been around other dogs since he was a pup. It’s not because he doesn’t like to play, he has doggie friends he will run and wrestle with. He just doesn’t tolerate bouncy happy dogs very well.
My dog is the same way and he’s 11 years old but has been that way for a while. I have learned how to help him in those situations, he is highly insecure. I can tell that he trust me to not get him into a bad situations so his reactions are easy to handel. It’s puppies that hes not sure about, he know that they mean no harm they just have no manners at all. My boyfriend’s family recently acquired a Black GDS and he was around 5 months when my dog first met him. At that age he was already bigger than my dog. His way of play, bound full force at my dog. My dog would just tuck down a wait for me to save him, which I did. Never once did he snap or growl at the pup. Now my cousins boxer on the other hand might get a growl. She loves to lick him in his face and he hates its. Most of the time he can get a way with a quick turn of the head. As long as your dog trust you it’s not as bad as it could be lol but there will always be some type of reaction.
One of my clients noted that when she tells people her Dal doesn’t like small dogs, the mdif’s respond “it’s okay, my dog plays with big dogs all the time.”
que??? there is NO logic left inna world.
I appreciate this post. I’m a MDIF and never thought about this. So thank you!
Judy, I could hug you and your friendly dog for reading this! I think we’ve all been guilty of being MDIFs sometimes…dogs are like furry magnets and it’s hard for us to resist saying “hi” to them. Thanks for reading and having a sense of humor about MDIFs and DINOS!
Fantastic article. Dogs have brains. And with that comes individual personality. It’s unreal when I see how many dog owners don’t realize not every dog is like their bouncy, all-loving pup. To say nothing of the point of contagious diseases. Sorry but the world does not revolve around just you or your happy go lucky fido.
My dog doesn’t care for dogs bouncing in his face. Worse yet, in the dog parks if there is a scuffle, “symbolic” fighting if you will, owners sit by thinking “dogs work these things out for themselves.” Well, yes and no. If you don’t come to break it up or stand in front of your dog, or stick up for him, that dog learns not to rely on you. Trust is not 100% on the part of the dog. Then that same owner wonders why his dog listens less and less to commands or requests? Gee! Why SHOULD he listen?
I do find it frustrating that dogs have a hard time in NYC where I live, finding ample space to run. You just don’t always know what sort of energy your dog will have until post-adoption, as it grows like a pup, etc. Leashes are great but dogs cannot be on them 24/7 in public and be truly happy in most cases. Not having a good outlet for energy, to run and play at true DOG speed, can actually increase that bounciness that annoys others so much, or worse, start aggression issues due to frustration. SOme of the dog parks are no bigger than a postage stamp and basically corral high energy dogs together, increasing the risk of a fight or flight situation, with no where to flee!
Dog runs need to be bigger or off lead areas need to be more numerous, with all owners paying a membership fee so they pay attention to the rules, and the understanding that other owners should be respected, that their dog needs to learn serious off lead manners, and that despite all of that, there are risks and we need to go back to a time when people knew nature was nature and accidents need to be dealt with calmly, peacefully, rationally.
Having been a dog walker in Philly for many years, I feel your pain about life in the city with DINOS. It’s very difficult to exercise your dogs without also being around many other, usually off leash, dogs. Some dog parks have instituted bandana rules: Red, yellow, and green, so people who want to come into the park know if they can proceed and how quickly. Reds are allowed to exit, before a new dog enters.
In general it seems like we’ve lost our common sense when it comes to dogs overall. They are indivduals, they sometimes bite, and they need management. These are risks we’re wiling to take, because we enjoy their company and we shouldn’t fault them for acting like dogs. Frankly, I’m surpised we don’t get bitten more often, the way we act!
I so totally agree with what you wrote here. I have one of those dogs that wants/needs his space and just got harrassed by a My Dog is Friendly type of person the other day (blogged about it too I was that infurirated). Glad to hear there is a movement like this out here to protect dogs like mine!Q
It really is so upsetting – I’m always left feeling shaken up after a run in with a MDIF. I hope this blog helps change a few minds : )
MDIF’s? LOL. It’s funny, because it’s true!!
I think the underlying root problem is that we’ve somehow fostered a society where a majority of our citizens are completely self-centered, narcissistic and unaware of anything but themselves. Look at how people behave with their cell phones in public: You almost seem abnormal if you’re walking around WITHOUT your hand attached to your head. And watch as these same people are completely oblivious to the world around them (and if they’re talking into their phone inordinately loud!)
These are your MDIFs: Completely unconcerned with anybody’s feelings or situation if it doesn’t cater to their own feelings and what they want to do.
I think you just need to carry a big ‘ol .45 in your waistband, with a light sweater on top of it. As they come running near you, just flash your pistol and watch them do a Scooby stop.
HaHaHa! if everyone had a handgun, manners would improve!!
Oh, my favorite are the MDIFs that are also on their cell phones, oblivious to their dogs lunging and barking. Tune in folks!
Don’t get me started…
I thought it was a uniquely American phenomena, but even when we were living in Bogota Colombia (granted… we were in a pretty good area, but still!) I was amazed to see people walking and talking on their cell phones at dusk.
I’ve always want to walk up behind them, slap them in the side of the head, and then walk the opposite direction, casually as if nothing happened. Since they weren’t paying attention– I figure they’re less inclined to know who did it. LOL.
And then there are the people who “don’t realize” that their dog just defecated on the lawn/walkway/park.
Like I said… don’t get me started…
Learn to be a DFWM (Don’t F*** With Me) dogwalker. You’re as entitled to your space as someone else is disrespecting you by violating it. If you’re hip to behavior, you’ll realize that this isn’t as “friendly” as it seems; it isn’t friendly; it’s *violating*. Learn to voice a convincing, commanding, “BACK OFF! MY DOG ISN’T FRIENDLY!”, as soon as you see them heading your way. Get it right and it works every time.
Of course it’s not really friendly (this blog is humorous). Honestly, I’ve gotten in near fist fights with people, called the cops, had things thrown at me, threatened by men twice my age and size. I am not afraid to speak up for myself! But It’s ridiculous that it has to get that far. If MDIFs were respectful of space and obeyed leash laws, I wouldn’t have to scream in their faces.
fanatastic article! i still suffer the effects of being accosted by those “friendly” dogs with my DINO dogs. we live in a great area for outdoor activities but because of the “dogs should be free” attitude of locals and visitors alike we cannot enjoy hikes or swimming. I work hard to be sure my dogs do not bother any or their dogs.
Anne, I used to live in a city, but now live in Maine and am often bummed that I can’t take my dogs to the beach or woods because all the dogs are off leash. We’ve talked to other local DINOS families and found a few hidden gems to visit that are quiet – we hope you can find some too!
Wonderfully, wonderfully written. Bravo! At 14+, my now deceased dog wasn’t up to getting jumped on, nose bumped, postured at or whatever the other dog might do. She was friendly and social but you hit the nail on the head…it’s MY choice.
I took to telling the person my dog is contagious so they should watch out for bloody diarrhea or Phew! I was worried she’d bite him. I like to think it got through the thick skulls but honestly, I see the same “offenders” in my neighborhood.
Thank you for posting this!
Wow, thank you for writing this! I used to be a MDIF when my dog was young. I couldn’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to interact with him. He’s become a little more dog-selective with age. And, I started doing some rescue work in the last couple years, and have a whole new appreciation for allowing and asking for space. Now I totally get the need for space, and understand that it’s not offensive (or at least it shouldn’t be) to say that I don’t want my dog to interact with somebody else’s. I’ll never forget walking a very dog-reactive rescue dog when a large dog on a flexi-lead coming the opposite way crossed the street to greet us while the owner said (from the other side of the street), “oh look, they want to play.” My dog was cowering and pulling on the leash, and I had to say that she doesn’t like other dogs. It was scary and very frustrating.
Thanks for sharing this, and thanks for patience with those of us who don’t get it at first!
Hi Joanne, I think a lot of us, myself included, have MDIF moments! I have discovered that until you live with a DINOS, it can be really hard to imagine why you shouldn’t just let your dog greet every other dog…It’s easy to think the DINOS are just being rude and dismiss them. So I hope this helps bridge the gap a bit! And thanks for reading!
I agree most MDIF (idiots) with or without flex lines should be hooked to a moving pick up truck – preferably in the opposite direction from my dogs. I have 5 chihuahua’s and one thinks she is a pit bull. I walk all 5 at once and I do use flex lines – 2 with double harness and I can reel them in like fish. I have practiced enough that if I see another dog I can have them locked at my side in 3 seconds flat. I have walked off the sidewalk into a strangers yard to get away and they just follow you. Luckily I have a drill sargents voice. Believe me the people a block over can hear me if I say SHE BITES. Funny that they hear.
My biggest gripe is I have a chain link fence around my front yard because I can’t fence my back yard. Who said MDIF’s are allowed to bring their dogs over to the fence to say hi. If I ask politely to please stay away I get – “I can walk on sidewalk where I want” Okay – you can but do not aggravate my dog PLEASE! especially as you don’t even live on my street.
ugh! we have 2 rescues – a heeler and a chiweenie. Heeler’s dont typically enjoy strangers or cuddling, my girl is social but doesn’t love being touched by strange men any more than you or i! But she’s ‘cute’ so we still get ambushed a lot, I’m very non-confrontational so and I’ve worked hard on a ‘say hi’ command to get through these scenarios quickly and peacefully- accept a 2 second pat and come back to my side for a treat. However we have to protect the chi all the time, especially with kids. I spend a lot of time socializing my dogs with friendly strangers and kids to avoid problems in unavoidable situations but I cant believe how often parents let their kids just run up on little dogs and try to pick them up, no wonder he’s afraid of kids! I’ve met lots of wonderful respectful kids but I try to use these no-good situations to do a little ‘community education’ with the kids while their parents are on the phone or whatever. I’ll have the more patient big girl come out and show them how to properly greet her and ask her to do a trick or something while the little one hides in my coat. On that same note whats with unattended small children in the dog park? We’ll call these the MKIFs- my kid is friendly- doesn’t mean they need any less supervision or guidance than my dog!
Oh, I can one-up you all here. How about riding aboard a young, green hot-blooded horse who has just as much right to be out on a public bridle path as the dog walkers, and having the dog(s) bolt in your direction while the MDIF shouts, “He’s really friendly … he’s just never seen a live horse up close before!” Yes, that’s oh, so very reassuring. Meanwhile your dog keeps barreling toward us, barking it’s brains out and my 800+ pound horse is gearing up to explode. These idiots have no idea what a dog can do to the under side of a horse or the damage a horse can do to a dog’s head. Not to mention where I’ll end up in this mess. In many states equines have few places they can be ridden anymore. Sadly, we have to share the trails with canines, hikers and bikers and an assortment of other fools, but nobody seems to understand trail etiquette and that ALL are supposed to yield to the equine. It’s not that we think we are superior, it’s a size/unpredictability thing folks. Get a clue!!!
whoa. that does sound really hard. mental note: never, ever be an MDIF to a horse!
How far away from a horse and rider should a dog walker stay?
Fabulous blog! I really appreciate it because I work daily with my dogs to help them cope with life and other dogs in a non-aggressive way and sometimes their space simply gets invaded and they get upset.
Excellent! Bravo! Well done! CLICK!
Well written! I am sharing this with everyone. I can’t wait on the blog about flexi leashes.
Are you sure you don’t live in my neighborhood? We have leash laws, punishable by a $500 fine, that no one seems to observe except for me. My dogs are very reactive when on a leash so I try to make sure that stay at least 20 feet away from other dogs. Of course, these dogs that are off leash make it almost impossible to maintain a safe distance. Of course, I’m the schmuck when me dogs react to another dog running up to them at full speed.
This is great! I also am amazed how many times when I’m at the vet, that people just let their dogs wander around or run up to my dogs to “visit”! I don’t know what’s wrong with their dogs, and they sure don’t know what’s wrong with mine! And when I calmly say “I don’t let my dogs visit others at the vet” it makes it sound like MY dogs are anti-social. I just am appauled at the lack of boundaries, and common sense!
Unfortunately almost all of these so-called “friendly” dogs are not, in fact, friendly. They are exhibiting aggression–which is why most other dogs don’t like them or want them rushing up. Their owners mistake their stiff, wagging tails and forward ears and eye contact as friendliness but in dog language this is a threat–pure and simple. Suzanne Clothier wrote an excellent article on this many years ago. It used to be on the web, don’t know if it is still out there or not.
I wouldn’t say agression, more of dominance. A dog with aggression wouldn’t even try to sniff just out right im gonna get you
While walking my 11 year old, recently had major surgery Irish Setter in my neighborhood, I noticed a dog walking across the street towards us from its usually gated front yard. The owner was watching from the driveway. The dog was walking slowly, stiffly and since the owner was right there, I expected he’d call it off, but I pulled my dog closer and said “No!” loudly anyway. Didn’t help. The other dog attacked. I screamed language i didn’t know i was capable of and the owner came and got his dog. He had the nerve to say he hadn’t noticed the dog was out of the yard. I said “You were right there!” Left it at that because all I wanted to do was get my dog away from there. He now reacts nervously when we pass that corner and I’m furious this guy subjected him to this anxiety. I’ve seen him once or twice since and he has the nerve to glare at me as if I’m the one who was at fault. BTW, I now carry pepper spray and won’t hesitate to use it, on dog OR owner.
I’m always shocked at how often owners stand by and watch their dogs acting aggressively towards another dog or person, and do nothing. It happen more than you’d guess and it makes me bananas! Glad everyone made it out of that tussle in one piece.
My dog was approached years ago by a so called “friendly dog” who in turn snapped at my dog and bit her leg. Since then, when my dog sees another dog, it’s like, hackles go up, the growl starts, etc. She will not go after another dog, but she is warning them to stay away. So, when a so called friendly dog approaches, I tell the owner, please keep away, for my dog’s sake as you never know how friendly the other dog may be. All because of this incident, she has become very “dog selective”
what about MDIFs near exercise paths? Ok my dog IS friendly but if i’m on a bike or skateboard with her heeling on leash having an MDIF run onto the path can be a total catastrophy! This happens all the time down near the Venice beach/boardwalk/bike path area. If I’m the one in a park with people on bikes/skateboards doesn’t matter how great my dog’s recall is i’m still holding the leash for everyone’s safety
Oh, my, what an excellent article. And you could group in those people who MUST rub and hug your dog without invitation (one of my pack of rescues was severely abused as a young dog and has a natural – and well-learned – hesitancy around humans. If you ask and approach in the right way, she will love to greet you, but someone rushing right at her is NOT the right approach).
Great post ,and I did bookmark you, I have had only one dog with serious ( as in “I will gut your dog “) issues. Spent my life training for military, police and S&R, This guy was a first for me, at 4 month’s he made his first gut attack and I wanted to put him down, because it was brutal and this was going to be a large dog.. My husband over rode my decision and we began 8 years of very controlled dog life. We both loved the dog so much and he was devoted to us, but he would kill any other animal that got near him. The MDIF crowd were hell. Here I have a dog that stays in the heel position, is not leash reactive (no warning friend ) never barks at strangers, but is capable of tremendous harm. One, you never admit to some idiot that your dog is deadly, that will not make you friends in court, but the muzzle always gets a question……… I was blessed with 3 friends who walked with us every day, he enjoyed walking and human companionship , so I was not going to doom him to the back yard.
He put on his big boy muzzle ( really, that was associated with walks so he didn’t mind ) and having him cross leashed with a point man and a rear guard we walked him every day.. He also enjoyed obedience classes because the other dogs couldn’t harrass him. The trainer laughing always said he would be the first CDX wearing muzzle. I am not fond of MDIF folks. He lived to be 8 and we lost him to cancer, I always resented the confinement we had to put on him so others could be stupid. BTW, we now have 2 Newfies ( water rescue ) and people really like to let the little guys climb up on them. I now say, Contain your Dog in a firm voice and hold up the pepper spray.
I think part of the issue with MDIFs is that they love their dogs like everyone else. The issue comes when they think that you must love their dog as much as they do. You must want to get to know their dog and wonder at the miracle of how awesome their dog is. One of my standard responses to MDIF is “mine isn’t”. It may or may not be true but hopefully is makes them think.
The other day a huge bulldog jumped out of a moving van, bounced on the pavement and came at us. The owner got out of his truck and got the dog and I told him he should roll the window up higher and he called me every name in the book and I, to my dismay, called him a few names too. A year ago a lady had a pit bull and it was on a leash but got away from her and attacked us. I just stood there and screamed while my dog twirled around to avoid getting bitten and some man from nowhere came and grabbed the pit bull’s leash and pulled him away. All this time the woman just stood there and kept saying she was sorry but did nothing to help. There were two other incidents over the years and my whippet is terrified of any dog running loose. Also what gets me going is small children walking dogs. I had one drag the child across the street as it ran towards us. They were almost hit by a car.
Excellent and timely post! Just this past week I had a client near tears because she and her fearful dog were accosted for the third time by the same neighbor that sees them coming, DROPS her leash while yelling, “Don’t worry, my dog is friendly!”. Thank your for giving them a voice too!
Thank you so much for posting this! As an owner of a DINOS myself, it’s really a pain when encountering an MDIF. “Yes, we know your dog is friendly–but mine is trying to decide if your dog isn’t actually a squirrel in disguise…”
The biggest issue is that the MDIF then feels attacked because our dog didn’t respond with the ‘expected’ playful posture… Yeah, we tried to warn you when we gave you the sidewalk in order to PASS. *sigh*
They do seem to take it personally, don’t they? Sigh.
Interesting article, but extremely difficult to read. Is there some way you can make the text darker? Reading gray text on white background is all but impossible.
Thank you for the PSA… as an owner of two DINOs I felt like you were telling my story above!
But is it too much to ask for the human to make eye contact, smile, say something like, “cute dog you have – gotta go – have an appointment!” (even if the appointment is with your own front door)? Why make out the friendly people & dogs as the ones at fault?
Bev, not at all! You seem very sensible, so I doubt you fall under the MDIF umbrella. Those MDIF folks keep coming, even when we clearly and politely say, “My dog is not friendly”. If we could walk away, we would, but sometimes we get stuck, and for some reason, our warnings to give us some space don’t work. So, that’s why I wrote this humorous blog post – after being chased back and forth across the same block 3x by a woman who, despite my requests for space, kept chasing us and shouting, “my dog is friendly!”
Nope, not the blog police. But it’s interesting to see how you’ve taken what was obviously an unusually strange encounter with a nutty lady and turned it into social and moral cry of indignation against anyone who wants to interact with your dog in pubic. You want tolerance and understanding for YOUR situation but you’re calling for little to none for “them.” Pretty odd, that.
This has been happening to me on a regular basis for ten years, but that last encounter is what prompted the blog. There’s nothing unusual about it, judging by the 20,000 people who have read this post and the 2,000 people on Facebook that are sharing their similar experiences. And I recall you complaining about MDIFs letting their dogs get near your “green” horse because you thought it was unsafe for your horse and the dogs…Aren’t those the same SPOs (your term for pet owners you think are stupid) that you have no tolerance for? Or have you changed your mind and now it’s ok for those people to approach your horse, because it’s finger pointing to ask them to be more aware of your horse’s “problems”? Applying your logic, it sounds like you shouldn’t be riding a horse in public if it’s going to have problems with the dogs it is bound to encounter. And with that…I’m out of this “conversation”. If you don’t like my personal blog, please don’t read it.
My problem with loose dogs meeting horses on that trail are that 1. It could become a potentially life threatening situation for dog, horse and rider, and 2. It’s against the LAW to have your dog loose on the public trail where I ride. Still, I take full responsibility for my actions and the safety of my horse regardless of what the SPO does. It’s not really even a matter of tolerance, it’s just doing the smart thing. Do I wish dog walkers would comply with the law? You bet, but if they don’t then I’m ready and willing to take evasive action. It’s called being proactive. You might want to try it.
Rontuaru, So if I’m the manners police, would that make you my blog police? I feel honored to be getting so much attention from you!
gee, i don’t remember any where in the CGC test where the dog has to endure being sniffed inappropriately or jumped on by another dog, accosted by screaming children, or allow a stranger to get so close to it’s face it goes cross-eyed. http://www.akc.org/events/cgc/training_testing.cfm I have been lucky to have dogs that could handle those things but i never put them in that position intentionally. yes, we train our dogs to react appropriately when these things happen but i don’t think any of us or our dogs actually enjoy the encounters. if you compete in any sport with your dogs you usually prepare your dogs for the unexpected. many people are completely unaware that they and their dog are being rude when the dog is trolling at the end of its lead and we can’t get by. many people don’t realize or believe that their dog could ever be dangerous. do you like everyone you meet? do you enjoy being forced to be taken advantage of by strangers? do you appreciate it when people respect your personal space? what makes you think your dog doesn’t feel the same way? Some of us have been blessed with reactive dogs. We work hard to help them deal with their fears and insecurities so that they and we can enjoy as normal a life as possible. Some will progress to the point of being able to walk in public. Some will not. Are we bad owners because our dogs have fears? of course not. do we know why some dogs are reactive? sometimes we don’t but believe it or not, some dogs become reactive to other dogs because of the less than pleasant encounters they have had with those friendly and not so friendly dogs! have you ever had to deal with a reactive dog? a dog that you love with all your heart, that has so much potential, that is the perfect dog when it is just you and them but who cannot make it in the outside world? a dog that you spent years working with in every way you knew how. a dog that you walked with a leather harness, a lead and a muzzle – with tons of food, on pedestrian free roads just so you could have some special time. do you know what it feels like to get to the point where your dog feels safe enough to look at you when a bicycle goes by and how those comments about your dog not being trained, sting? do you know what it’s like to have to bury that dog because you know that the only true release for that dog from its fears is a final release? and do you know how many years it will take you to stop feeling the panic – that desperate desire to turn and run home crying – when you are walking down the street alone and you see one of those friendly dog and owner teams approaching you? have you ever tried to enjoy a walk down a quiet dirt road while you work on training some behaviors with your friendly dog only to be circled by two aggressively snapping dogs with no collars, no leashes and an owner with no voice control who said her dogs were friendly – and then be told it was a shame my dog wasn’t allowed to have fun? or how about the two dogs chained together by their collars, hackles up challenging another of my dogs while the owners saw no problem with it at all? do you think its fair to let your friendly dogs approach people who really are terrified of dogs just because your dog is friendly? i don’t go out for a walk with my dog with the intention of causing trouble. i walk my dogs on lead and interact with them. i am pleasant to other walkers and i give them space. i may appear to be rude because i am paying attention to my dog but my dog, not the other people is what is my main responsibility. it pays off – my dogs are recognized in the neighborhood and no one is afraid to approach us because they know my dogs are under control. I don’t think any of us begrudge the friendly dogs. all i’m asking for is the same amount of respect that i try to show the MDIFs.
Hilarious and so true!!!
Here are a couple of examples from a veterinary perspective (rontuaru here is the safety aspect!) Client rushed into the clinic after his dog had been “savagely attacked” by a Rottweiler. The owner was understandably upset his dog had been injured, and he was going to report to the council. On hearing the whole story, both I and the council agreed, it was our clients dog that provoked the attack – you see our client was walking his dog (a long haired German shepherd), off lead, when it spotted the Rottweiler being walked, on lead with its owner. The German Shepherd sprinted as fast as it could towards the Rottweiler, whom had no means of escape as it was on lead, so it defended itself from what it thought was an unprovoked attack upon itself. Picture if you will, huge hairy dog, mouth open flying at you, wouldn’t you be scared you were being attacked, and yet we seem to expect dogs not to react. The owner of the Rottweiler was incensed by both the decision by council not to proceed with an investigation and my agreement with council because as he said: “my dog was just being friendly”
And in the veterinary clinic, dog owners will INSIST on letting their dogs off the leash the minute they walk in the door, or at least let them have a long leash, allowing them to approach other patients and clients, saying “oh look it wants to be friends” then getting the shock of their lives when the patient they have approached reacts aggressively. Common sense would expect these people to recognise the veterinary clinic even at the best of times is a very stressful place, let alone the possibility something might be serious sick or hurt.
It isn’t about apportioning blame; it’s about using common sense, and even trying to look at things from the animal’s perspective. Instead of judgement, we need to think, how would we feel in this situation? Would we be happy to have a perfect stranger approach, touch or smell us – probably not? And yet we expect dogs to immediately accept every situation we put them in. I have a DINOS and I also have a friendly, on many occasions I have had to put my friendly up as a distraction, so I can get my dinos out of the way. My DINOS is on lead for his protection, my friendly I allow a bit more freedom, but I am forever scanning the horizon for other dogs & people, a) to protect my DINOS and b) to respect that other people, whether they have a dog with them or not, may not be comfortable with a dog in their personal space (and that space could be any size!). As an owner of a gentle large breed that is considered powerful (and usually misrepresented by media) I am very much aware that some people simply don’t like my breed or even worse are frightened of dogs in general. I am more than happy for people to ask me if they can approach and likewise I will give them the same respect.
Thanks so much or offering a different perspective (the vet’s) Gillian! You’re absolutely right: this is about respect and safety. p.s. I got your email about hanging the posters in your vet clinic and I’ll send you the link for downloading them today. I’m thrilled the message has spread to your corner of Australia! Stay in touch, Jessica
Gillian: There’s really no common sense anymore, as you (and several other here, including myself) have pointed out. And you can’t fix stupid. So all the public service announcements in the world really won’t change this situation. I carry pepper spray. and I’m willing to use it (if need be) to defend myself or my animals. I also do my best not to let my reactive dog get involved in a situation I can’t control, which means I try very hard not to take him places where the possibility of running into an SPO might happen. Including the vet. When we go to the vet I go in without the dog and wait until the vet is ready, then make sure there are no dogs in our way that might interfere with our passage into the office, then repeat the procedure when we are ready to leave. I never expect or ask my DINO to accept the presence of strange dogs because it’s totally beyond his ability to cope. I understand that fully. But by the same token I don’t expect other people to understand, empathize or work with me on this issue because most pet owners simply don’t have the skills. They’ve never had to live with a reactive dog on a daily basis like I do. It’s almost beyond their comprehension. I’ve raised multiple dogs over 40 years and I never had a dog who was anything like this until now. Before him, I was clueless about this sort of temperament flaw too. Unfortunately, the risk of owning/keeping a dog like him is that there is always going to be the chance that something extreme might happen. Hey I love my dog as much as the next person, but I’m able to see that he’s flawed and his issues are NOT the norm. So I go out of my way to minimize the possibility that something bad might happen, but that’s the responsibility I took when I decided to live with him. Sadly, in your case I seriously doubt that trying to educate the owner of the GDS was ever going to work. Sorry about that. And FWIW, my vet’s office is horribly designed. They recently did a revamp and didn’t think a whit about their animal clients and traffic flow, which puts dogs and cats in the position of constantly having to be in close proximity upon entering and leaving the clinic. That’s why I never take my dog in or out until the coast is 100% clear …. and if they have to wait for me? Oh well! 😉
So funny, but true! This is perfect and I can’t tell you how many times this has happened while out trying to train my male who is very dog-reactive. What I’ve also found with my female who doesn’t have any “dog issues” is that often these moron’s who claim their “dog is friendly” really don’t have a friendly dog, but a socially retarded dog who is not friendly at all and cannot read other dog’s signals!
On 12/2 I had written a comment here and aside from thanking you again, wanted to follow up. I write for Examiner.com and everyone I have spoken to about this topic has been overwhelmingly appreciative of your posts. So far I’ve written 2 articles about D.I.N.O.S (I’m required to keep them ridiculously short…) and plan to follow up with a third. Just wanted to share the links with you…
I don’t expect to change the world in a day but with education and social pressure, it’s amazing how people can adapt. Keep up the good work!
Kirsten Hrobsky, CPDT
Hi Kirsten, thanks for letting me know about your DINOS coverage! You did a great job showcasing the variety of DINOS in the second article. I’m hoping that if we share the various types of DINOS that are out there, it’ll be more difficult for the general public to dismiss this as just a complaint from owners of “bad” dogs. This is really a movement about respect, compassion, and polite manners – thanks for helping to spread the word!
I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently. I’m quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!
Great article! I would also like to say that I’m a non dog owner that would occasionally like to be left alone. I like dogs, but I’m not always in the mood for a large drooling dog to maul me in excitement. Sorry, I guess you could say I’m a HINO? Human in Need of Space.
We took our Akita / Husky mix to several different trainers and were told we had done all we could. It was his temperament to not want to socially interact w/ most other dogs. There were a select few that he liked… One that really made us laugh was a miniature Greyhound he just loved and would allow to sleep under his fluffy, warm tail on cold winter days in NE. Most other dogs, however, he simply would not tolerate. When we would take him in public, on a leash, he was fine unless or until another dog owner would insist on allowing their dogs to get too close, even after being warned both by us and his body language. The worst was unleashed dogs. And the owners would always have negative things to say about us as his owner. Like we never tried to socialize him or it was somehow our fault. Thank you so much for this! People need to be made aware of this very serious issue!
People with allergies don’t appreciate the MDIFs either. I’ve been jumped on by dogs with the owner insisting, “Don’t worry, he’s friendly.” Umm, that’s not really the problem. The problem is, he slobbered on me and now my eyes are going to swell up and be itchy for the next two hours.
Thanks so much for this important PSA. I have totally given up on taking my dogs to off leash parks after one too many assaults by cracker dogs.
I have a fantasy of running up to their owners and sticking my face in theirs and shouting “I’M FRIENDLY! I JUST WANT TO PLAY!”
I’ve got a 204 pound mastiff who is reactive when on leash. I am mindful of where and when I walk him and will always duck up the nearest driveway and put him in a sit / stay when somebody approaches. Even with that, I have experienced people walking their dogs who actually start to come up the driveway to say “hi!” Sheesh! Get a clue.
Sadly, the open fields where it would be nice to walk him are frequently populated by (illegal) off leash dogs and there have been some near misses so I just stick to our immediate neighborhood.
My favorite are the intact, off-leash male dogs that are NOT under voice control. There’s a Samoyed in the local ON-leash park. The guy tells me his dog is friendly. As the dog is standing there stiff-legged, with his whole body drawn up as high as he can make himself.
Then when my pit reacts by barking at the dog, the guy gets really wide-eyed as if my dog is going to eat his.
He’s “explained” to me in the past that his dog “doesn’t listen”. Great!!
As a trainer AND a K9 Behavioural Consultant, I see many DINOs *and* MDIFs in my classes and private consulting. LOVE the article …. I have been both teaching AND preaching this stuff for years. In fact, I am one of the few people I know that advise AGAINST any handlers entering the hell of a “leash free park” … not that being “leash free” only happens in such designated parks. As a result of the idiocy of handlers who are TOTALLY clueless and unaware of the environment they live in – thereby transferring this to their own dogs – I teach a session in my Beginner Group Obedience class that discusses HOW to protect oneself and their dog from the “onslaught” of rushing and off leash dog(s) as one tries to mind their own business and have a pleasant leash walk with their dog. Sadly, this part of my obedience class has been VERY popular and has been very helpful subsequently – according to feedback from students that have moved on …..
And yes, flexi leashes ARE totally useless regardless of the “stop” botton they have. The very principle of the flexi leash – to permit a dog to be 10-20 feet ahead of a human – reverses the handler/dog relationship. Not to mention that they are USELESS in terms of allowing a handler to issue any kind of leash correction. The street scenarios with flexi leashes remind me of what I once heard (or read). Assume Martians land on Earth and observe a dog 20 feet ahead of a human who is holding a flexi leash. Occasionally, the human is pleading with his/her dog who, dutifully, ignores the call. Also occasionally, the dog ahead will defecate and the human will, also dutifully, bend over and pick up the poop and often hold onto it while the dog – head up, nose up in the air – pulls the human and once again resumes the walk. WHO WOULD THE MARTIANS THINK THE LEADER IN THIS PICTURE WAS?
Excellent blog! We are also pro trainers and have a “pack” of usually 16, very well socialized retrievers who hang out well together. We are always amazed at the lack of understanding of others though. We were at a property of about 100 acres, at the back of the property airing all of the dogs in one area, isolated and by ourselves. In swoops a car from some ways back, this man clearly wants to let his young lab (about 5 months old) out with our dogs. Are you kidding me?? This is NOT the way to socialize your dog, moron. You are going to get him hurt. We were able to very quickly get our dogs all loaded up and out of the way. This guy ended up getting mad and swearing at us….not the first time.
Oh, don’t get me started on off leash parks….. Eeek! Jim, I like the aspect you teach your beginner group.
I am in the middle of preparing policies/procedures for dog visits at our Hospice House that is opening this summer. One of these includes that visiting dogs do NOT socialize with other dogs in the facility, including our therapy dogs, as well as a 4 foot leash rule (no flexi leads). There will be a lot of teaching of staff and written material regarding behaviors, stressor signs, etc. and I’ll be sure to add points discussed here. We are going from a “dog friendly” (read: bring your dog, but you don’t necessarily need to bring your dog sense or understanding…oops, snarky?) out patient office to a combined inpatient/outpatient facility. Certain people think I’m being over the top with rules being put into place, but I know how necessary this is.
I’m a little late to this post but as I sat here reading it I started to cry. As a mom to a reactive fur-kid in training it is so heartening to know that I’m not crazy for protecting my dog nor is my dog any less worthy of walking unmolested by MDIF’s and their ignorant owners. Not all dogs are dog park divas and not all dogs do well in fast-moving situations. With Max’s 3rd gotcha day coming and a mountain of progress made, he’s still a DINOS and a fluffy wiggling work in progress. Thank you for this blog and support.
hi Ashley, I’m really glad you found the blog and hope you know you’re really not alone! Take a look at some of the more recent posts and join us over on Facebook, if you’d like. We have a really caring, supportive community for DINOS families over there. Happy Gotcha Day Max!
I just found this and THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I have two pit bulls who are sweet as pie, but sometimes reactive when on the leash. Training is a process that goes great some days and not so great on others, Some dog people totally get it, and then there are the people who give us the looks. Thank you for this blog!
glad you found us Barb!
Just found this blog & what a great post! Our rescue pit bull is a DINOS. He loves other dogs but he needs to meet & greet in a calm & controlled manner. We’re working with him on his leash reactivity & some days are definitely better than others.
Most people in our neighborhood are pretty good about personal space but there are a few that could care less. I’m amazed at how many people walk their dog off leash & just let them run up to other people/kids/dogs.
I’ve added your blog to my favorites & look forward to reading more posts!
Thanks Niki! I hope you have fun poking around the blog – you might like the ‘All Things DINOS’ page (up at the top)!
I love this! So true and well said
Friend of mine linked me this a few weeks ago – I have one definite DINOS and one sporadic DINOS. Both rescued dogs. Both with issues that we are working.
There is one off leash dog park in my area that is not well known, and generally empty, which is a godsend for my two. We went there today for lunch – they had a great run around, played with the kids jumped around on the agility equipment and generally had a doggy good time. We’d been there around an hour, when another dog turned up, so knowing how our two react , we rounded them up and put them on the leads. This particular *insert swear word here* could see them getting worked up and rather than waiting until we’d leashed them and taken them away, kept on barging right on it. At that point in hind sight, I should have said to him firmly “They aren’t friendly”. I was more concerned about getting my two out of harms way. We took them back to our table and started packing up to go, when his dog wandered straight over to ours, while he sat on the other side of the park and watched. Our two went nuts, so of course his dog reacted as you would imagine. He’s still sitting on the bench watching. My husband ended up with our most reactive dog snarling in his arms, balanced on one foot, with the other foot keeping the loose dog as far away as possible.
Finally at _this_ point the guy scurries over and screams at my husband for ‘kicking his dog’!!!
People are so ********* stupid!!
Ah! Where has this website been my whole life?! I have been plagued with MDIF for as long as I can remember, and nearly EVERY MDIF that encounters my dogs has actually instigated a fight. These dogs have no manners to speak of, making a bee-line head on towards my dogs, tail and hackles up, and the owners cheerily sing-song “my dog is friendly!” as the fight breaks out… and yep, MY dogs always get the blame!
I currently own one leash reactive dog (towards small dogs) and one fear-aggressive dog (towards both people and dogs). We are making slow but sure progress with positive-reinforcement training, but my dogs are in DEFINITE need of space on walks. Oddly enough, I seem to have more difficulties with people than other dogs. Just the other day I was walking my fear-aggressive dog when we were rudely approached by a woman in a large floppy hat (which totally freaked my dog out, as she is afraid of everything). The woman walked straight at us, despite my gesturing and my dog starting to lose control. After she asked if my dog bites and I explained about fear-based aggression, the woman passed by, about a foot away, and shouted repeatedly at my dog while leaning over her, systematically undoing much of the training we had sworked so hard to achieve. I am glad to say the children in my area have more sense, as they always ask before petting and now know which of my two dogs they are allowed to pet.
As for retractable leashes, I have a permanent scar on one leg from a friend’s dog, and had a barking dog jump into my car window at the vets office… both were on retractable leashes. There’s simply no way to control your dog on one, and I avoid dogs who are being walked on them at all costs.
I have Alaskan Malamutes. I used, a flex-lead. Once. 25 years ago. My 8mo. Mal at the time saw a rabbit, hit the end of that stupid lead, broke everything and kept on going. Came back when I called her, no thanks to the flexi-lead. Never used one since. To be blunt they are for lazy dog owners and basically teach dogs bad habits.
I can’t believe I found a page with people that feel the same way! I have a VERY elderly dog and a dog that was attacked twice by MDIF dogs.
There is a leash law here yet it’s ok for some dogs to be off leash because they are…let’s say it everybody; FRIENDLY! Well mine are not and I don’t know what they would do if a dog came up to them. My youngest gets so upset, he vomits. Why do I have to stop going to the park because some idiot might be there? Oh yeah! I could get sued if someone was bit! Why can’t people obey the law and leave us alone??
Yep, my dog needs space, freedom to move around and play , sniff, pee and poo, happy freindly, playfull, enegretic, healthy both physically and mentally. A wonderfull dog, enjoying her life in every sense of the word.. Dogs need to be social with their own kind. If you are so put out by dogs walking free, taking up your space ( its not yours, you dont own that space, nor do i or my dog) its free space and it is everyones space, so keep your dogs at home, if you are not willing or able to let your dog lead a life.!
Ok, I’ll tell service dogs, elderly dogs, injured dogs, and every other kind of dog that wants to be left alone for safety, health, or other reasons that selfish people like you get to do whatever they want, even if it hurts or scares others who just want to take a peaceful walk. And then I’m gonna run up and hug you, slap your ass, and yell in your face. If you’re not cool with me invading your personal space, stay home!
Haha, like your answer!
I am a dog lover and a people lover I take pride with all i do and my dog is absolutley fine off the lead, even though the park that i live on is teeming with dogs.. Some are on the lead, most are off the lead. In all my time there has been one complaint and that had been about a dog walker failing to clean up after their dog. ( Now thats a subject worthy of a blog)
Beleive me, the ages and the health of all the dogs differ here, as do their charachters. Owners idem dito.. How come we dont have the problem you are talking about? I have discussed this with all i met on the park today, The overwhelming answer was, “They should be put on a lead themselves” OMG Not quite the reaction i was hoping for.
In this community, where there are a lot of dog walkers, we all frequent thie same park every day, We all get along as do the dogs. There are Now and then, newcomers on the park who have their dog on a lead. We have been asked,,( without reason or any circumstance), to put our dogs on a lead? They were under the misconception that that was the law. However, she was told that this park is not listed as a park where one had to keep their dogs on a lead. We redirected the person to another park, where all dogs must be on a lead at all times and in all areas of that park. This was
not meant to be rude or otherwise. Clearly this lady would rather be in a place where all dogs were on a lead. Thats fine, there are parks where that is a rule. Perhaps there should be more parks allocated in that way, where if one prefers, the dogs are on a lead. I still beleive that space belongs to no one, therefore there is no invasion. If someone finds it too much for themselves and their dog, then look for places to go that suit your habbits. If i had to go to a park where dogs have to be on a lead, then on the lead she goes, however i avoid these, because i like her to be free and she loves the company of other dogs and people.
No i am not a selfish person, careless or otherwise. There are dogs that spend most of their time on a lead or in the home, backyard, garden or whatever. To have a dog is to look after it in everysense of the word, not just food and water, a walk in the park or round the block. If an animal is sick, why would you take it where other dogs are having a run around, take it somewhere quiet for a walk. If your dog isnt social, take it to a place where its quiet, .
Dont call dog owners stupid or otherwise, we all love our dogs. Be
sensetive to its personal needs. There are plenty of places for everyone
and every type of dog.
We’re not going to off leash areas. We avoid them. This blog is about respecting the personal space of other people and dogs – while our dogs are on lead.
Exactly! I have an elderly dog and a dog that was ripped apart by an off lead ‘MDIF’ and is now aggressive towards other dogs. I am disabled and can’t drive but have a wonderful walking path and park across the street. Should I barricade myself in the home because people like me who own dogs like this should find somewhere else to walk? That is why we don’t go to the dog park. There is a leash law and it applies to every park, street, sidewalk….EVERYWHERE where I live.
Everyone is entitled to their space. We can voice that and our dogs are able to in their own way. We should not have to watch out for people that don’t feel they should follow rules. And if being off lead is allowed, people and dogs still are allowed their space. It should not be a free for all because your dog can go loose
Just like some people don’t like to socialize, some dogs don’t either. It’s not a dog law that they all love one another and have to get along and play.
After what happened to my dogs, I have every right to be mad when my space is invaded by someone/dog without asking! All we want to do is walk and be with each other.
You never know what someones story or reasoning is.
so next time you pass someone walking (with or withouit a dog) on the same strech of space as you and your dog,they are invading YOUR SPACE? Dont think so, IT IS NOT YOUR OR YOUR DOGS SPACE< IT iS EVERYONES SPACE! (Personal space is self space while general space is the space that a group of people share in a place) .
Of course, some people and some animals may not like to socialise,, but to put yourself and your dog in a public space, well, you can hardly avoid other encounters. If you dont like being social, go where there are no people or dogs, on or off the lead. Also, it is a well known fact that dogs that are on leads are more likley to feel open to irritation, since thay cannot react in a normal doggy fashion, when encountering other dogs that are on or off the lead. Also not to forget your own body launguage, which is often without you being aware of it, cause for concern in your own dog when they are on the lead. They will always protect you, if you are irritated nervous or otherwise, so is your dog. Ninwe out of ten this is the case, The OWNER, not the dog itself, gives off the wrong signals when others are approaching, be it dogs or people.
Yes there are leash laws, you can find them at your local gov site, they will tell you when and where people have to have their dogs on a lead. Also you can find out quite easily, what the law says about Dogs that walk off the lead and what constitutes a danger. The interpritation of Personal Space is quite simple and the intrision of space is also set out in law.!
Thank you! You’ve been so helpful.
The article is about the freedom to walk your dog anywhere such as your neighborhood with being mauled by another dog, leashed or not. Not just dog parks.
Awesome blog! I can sooo identify with this! I’m tempted to leave copies of this on the windshields of people at my park. My dog is a DINO, and the biggest problem I have is the folks who insist, “It’s ok. My dog is friendly!”
My greyhound is friendly, but I don’t appreciate other “MDIF” people with off leash, unruly and energetic dogs that come running over, full speed towards my leashed dog. Shelly was adopted, and used to be a DINOS. She was TERRIFIED of any other dog, and spent 8 months of being terrorized by other neighborhood dogs running over to us in the middle of the street while I’m trying to teach her manners and that other dogs aren’t scary. The people that bothered me the most were owners of little dogs on extendy leashes, that thought it was funny how scared my large dog was of their 5 pound dog. Being a young person people didn’t take me seriously and thought I was afraid of their dogs lol. Now Shelly is an amazing, confident dog that I can take anywhere.
So true, not only in the US, but in Europe, too!
I just had an experience like that with our dog. Our dog is a rescue, and though he seems to be fine with dogs he knows well (at least he had no problem sharing a kennel with them in the rescue), he feels uncomfortable when unknown dogs approach him with too much energy. He’ll get tense and if they don’t back away, growl at them. We obviously don’t want to make this behavious worse, so we try to keep our distances, and have other dogs approach respectfully. He’s quite good at ignoring them if they don’t come straight at him.
Today we were on our morning walk, and on our way back we walked by a place where 2 German Shepherds live. Every time we see them, it’s clear they’re the leaders of their pack, not the humans. They don’t really respect their owners, and the owners are quite unable to control them.
So one of the dogs was off-leash on the street, and I was already prepared for him coming at us, which he did. He bolted at my dog, so to keep him off, I body-blocked him and tried to keep him away (I believe that – especially when he is on leash – it is my responsibility as his pack leader to keep such nuisances away from my dog), just when the owner showed up. It distracted me enough to give the German Shepherd time to jump on top of my dog, who then growled, obviously. I would have, too. The owner did pull his dog back then (about time), and said (well, what would he possibly say?): “Oh, but he’s just playing!”.
I told him my dog was uncomfortable with other dogs getting too close to him, and he was like “but that’s part of socialization!” (while he had to phisically restrain his dog so he wouldn’t go for us again). I said: “Really? Cause that looks a lot more like dominance behaviour to me and it’s very disrespectful.” And the guy answered “Well yeah… there’s some dominance behaviour, too, but you know, that’s part of it!” Right, whatever…
We just went on, my dog very nervous, me pretty annoyed.
I would very much love to socialize my dog. I would love him to tolerate and even play with other dogs. But dogs like that who just invade his space like that and jump on him won’t help for sure. And the owner is the one who really annoys me, as he clearly has no control over his dog and no respect for DINOS either.
What a fantastic article – and SO true! But even beyond some of your reasons listed out, I can add one. We have a pit who we rescued literally from the streets of Harrisburg. While she’s fabulous with our kids, friends, family and even dogs we bring into the house, I’m never 100% sure how she’ll react to other dogs on the street. Well, heck, even other people! She has a very protective nature (don’t get between her and her kids) and there’s always a concern that she’ll lash out in a protective way and end up harming someone because of her sheer strength.
We had a woman ask the other day if she could pet her – we were on a very busy street. Penelope is great, so I said yes, as the woman seemed to be very calm. This woman, whom we have never seen before, jumps down and gets RIGHT in Pen’s face. I instantly saw Pen’s ears go back and she took a very nervous stance. I had to ask the woman 5 times to get out of Pen’s face before she finally did. Who does that? I don’t care if she is a pit bull or a shih-tzu…you don’t just climb in a dog’s face.
So my dog needs space, too!
I have a beagle who loves her flex leash and behaves very well. I pull her in when I see dogs approaching. It is true that she doesn’t want to meet every dog. She is afraid of large dogs but will remain friendly to almost everyone. One time I was walking my dog and this other dog was running free and kept trying to hump my dog. The people thought it was funny and were too stupid to keep their dog away. Most people at my park will keep their dog away if they want to be left alone. Others will let their dog walk up to mine. I don’t mind sometimes but my dogs vet has cautioned against certain coughs etc. they can pick up from each other so I am cautious.
I just found your page and am reading through it all and I’m sure you hear this all the time, but this EXACTLY explains my situation with my dog! In fact, the scenario you describe above just happened on our morning walk, prompting me to come in, frustrated and upset, again, and do some reading. My dog is a good boy with issues. He’s a rescue and he spent the first five years of his life in a fenced-in yard. He has never been socialized with other dogs and we are working diligently on leash reactivity and tolerance of other dogs when out on walks–especially little dogs. He realllllllly doesn’t do well with them. He will lunge and yelp and whine and spin around and otherwise make a scene, which obviously scares people (he’s a big boy) and makes me feel terrible. We take him to classes every weekend where he is around at least 20 other dogs in a controlled environment and man, he has shown a lot of improvement! But out on walks is another story. People have those extender leashes, their “friendly” dogs are off leash, they want to say hi…etc. etc. It is so stressful. This morning I had him in an open space near our house doing some distraction work (sit, look, down, stay, etc.) trying to get him to not pay attention to squirrels, trucks and passersby with dogs or without. He was doing great, and then here comes a lady with her little dog on a little pink extender leash, making a beeline right for us. He starts to lose concentration, I start to motion her away, she continues straight for us. EXACTLY like you described above! Then she says, “Is your dog in training or something?!” just as he decides to totally show her how much he’s in training (sidenote, she actually said it with some attitude, which was also strange, isn’t it GOOD to train your dog?). Commence the yelping, lunging, the whole thing. Lovely. I replied “Yes, thank you” as I frantically tried to get him to sit, relax and stop freaking out. She basically ran away with her “friendly” dog muttering about us. Sigh, just another morning walk. Anyway, I am thrilled to find your site, I know you’ve probably heard these stories a thousand times over, but it is so reassuring to see others experience the same thing. I would love to just print out your material and post it all over my neighborhood! Thank you thank you. Love, Eliza and our wonderful boy Regalo. 😉
Love how you coined and trademarked that term “DINOS” its brilliant and love your writing. Kept me reading all the way through. Been searching for some dog related blogs and just bookmarked your sites. Thanks for sharing.
So well articulated, thank you, this was perfect. All I want is to do is take my dog for a walk and between the people, unsupervised kids, other dogs, “friendly” dogs, and “well trained” dogs (who never seem to pay attention when I’m around) it makes the simple walk such a hassle. I used to love long walks with my dogs, but now they’re filled with trepidation and stress, it’s sad.
Unfortunately I’ve also had to resort to carrying pepper spray, they’re attached to all my leashes. I hope that I never need to use it, but we’ve been charged by way too many loose dogs recently.
This article needs to be stapled to the forehead of ever MDIF. For some unfathomable reason, these people seem to think that just because THEIR dog is ”friendly”, everyone else’s must be too ( and I put friendly in quotations, because some owners don’t have the foggiest clue about their own dog’s body language and think their dog is friendly until one day it ends up biting someone or attacking another dog the other person says it’s okay or comes up to you first. A lot less dog bites would happen if people would just follow this rule, which is really just (now un) common sense and etiquitte.
unless the other person says it’s okay or goes up to you first. I bet a lot less dog bites would happen if people would folow that rule, which is really just common sense and etiquette anyways
Lol just noticed how butchered and chopped up my comment was. I’m on mobile and my phone does all sorts of random stuff when I’m trying to type just to annoy me
Anyway, what I was trying to say was that nobody should approach another person’s dog with their own ( or even by themself) without asking first.
I hope this blog is still getting the attention it deserves. I was a dog-walker back in 2007; quit a job I really enjoyed because of this issue. Now I own a five pound Pom that hates being around other canine no matter what size or mentality because she was once “playfully” charged by a huge german shepard that bounded upon us off-leash. We were innocently “potting” on leash when out of nowhere this “pup” comes upon us. Needless to say, both our lives have been effected by this mindless trend people insist on. We now reside in a rural compound protected by stout fencing just to keep our sanity.
All I can say is “Hallelujah!” This article says it all, and says it perfectly. Thank you!
I love this article! I love this Blog…I’m so glad I found it…I am a first time solo dog owner to a lovely rescue Boston Terrier, who is SO dog\people\wind\garbage can obsessed I have a hard time getting her to calm down and walk. She spent the first 7 months of her life in a crate at a puppy mill. I want to get her an “I’m in training do not disturb” vest, but most people so far would not take the time to read it instead the usually end up yelling at us from down the street, there is nothing worse than trying to walk your under socialized over excited dog and have someone yell from across the street “OMG WHAT A CUTE PUPPY” I realize a cute dog is sometimes hard to resist…but a little common sense is appreciated…I’m going to print off some of your amazing DINO hand outs and ask if I can put them around my building!
Thank you so much!!
Please consider trying the following when confronted by an overeager MDIF:
Put you hand up to stop them, then say “We’re in training” (or some variation).
Somehow people respect this and it works every time for me.