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DINOS™: A Manifesto

It is our position that DINOS (Dogs in Need of Space)™ are good dogs with the right to enjoy walks in public without the harassment of other dogs and their people.

Therefore we demand the following from our fellow dog lovers:

  1. Obey Leash Laws: Outside of a dog park, or otherwise sanctioned off-leash area, you must leash your dogs. This is not our opinion, it’s the LAW.
  1. Ask Permission Before Approaching: Stop moving and ask, “Is your dog friendly?” or “Can my dog say hi?”
  1. Listen to our Response: Give us time to respond. And no means no.
  1. Respect Our Space: If we move to the side, so that you can pass, do not let your dog approach us. Please shorten their leash and continue walking. It’s not rude, promise.
  1. Do Not Give Chase: If we abruptly turn the other way or cross the street, we do not want to interact with you or your dogs. Yes, we saw you.  No we don’t want to say “hi”.
  1. Lock your Leashes: If you walk your dog on a retractable leash (aka a Flexi Lead), please retract and lock your leash, so that we may pass by without engaging with your dog. Better yet, skip the retractable and use a flat leash. Retractable leashes break.
  1. Zip it: Keep your judgments and nasty comments to yourself. One day, due to illness, trauma, or other circumstances, you too may find yourself the loving owner of a DINOS. Until you walk a (paranoid) mile in our shoes, we implore you: If you don’t have anything nice to say, just keep on walking.
  1. No Matter How Nice You Are, the Rules Still Apply: You may think that because you and your dogs are really nice and very dog savvy, that it’s ok for you to break these rules. Look, we believe you. You seem really nice and so does your dog. We wish we could meet you under other circumstances, but trust us, we know our dogs better than you do. We reserve the right not to interact with you, no matter how nice you are.

In return, the DINOS pledge to uphold the following standards:

  1. We will always leash our DINOS when out in public.
  2. We will muzzle our DINOS, if necessary.
  3. When it is possible, we will always create distance between your dog and our  DINOS, so that you too can pass us without incident.
  4. We will tell you our dogs are DINOS. No mind reading necessary.

Subsection 4A: Don’t Deny Your Dog is a DINOS.

DINOS Deniers are wide-spread. They refuse to believe that their dog is one of the following: inappropriate, rude, or aggressive.  They fool unsuspecting dog owners by saying their dogs are friendly, but in reality they are not. Typically, after an incident occurs, they admit it has happened before, as in: “I don’t know why, but my dog almost always bites when he’s at the dog park.” Stop denying the truth.  You have a DINOS and you owe it to your dog and everyone else’s dog to create safe interactions. If you own DINOS, you must be responsible for understanding your dogs.

DINOS, The Time to Take Back Our Space is Now!

DINOS Unite!

printer friendly pdf: DINOS Manifesto

Looking for a Kinder, Gentler Manifesto? If you’re a shelter, trainer, or just a really nice person, check out this less snarky version, with printable pdf!

photo credit: Ginger Monteleone Photography

Who’s who?

DINOS: Dogs in Need of Space™

MDIF: My Dog is Friendly™

OLDS: Off Leash Dogs™

ROARS: Rovers on a Retractables™

DINOS © Copyright Jessica Dolce 2012

DINOS Dogs In Need of Space© Copyright Jessica Dolce 2012

  1. Valerie #

    True. But hilarious.

    December 2, 2011
  2. We have to laugh or we’ll never survive this kind of craziness!

    December 2, 2011
  3. My DINOS dog doesn’t need space because he is aggressive – he needs it because he is WORKING!! He doesn’t need any distractions from anyone! Please don’t possibly jeopardize my health, safety or life by ignoring me when I say “NO!”. Please don’t assume that my dog IS NOT friendly just because we don’t want to interact with you. I REALLY don’t need the stress of your nasty comments nor does my dog need to worry about my health because my blood pressure is now rising!

    December 2, 2011
  4. No means No! When did people stop understanding that simple word? Those nasty comments really do get my blood boiling, no matter how hard I try not to let them get to me!

    December 2, 2011
  5. vonnie taylor #

    GOOD! And, BTW, EVERY SINGLE SERVICE DOG – especially guides for the blind are DINOS, whether they (and their owners) know it or not. When you distract or let your kids a working dog you interfere with its ability to do its job, to assist its owner!

    December 2, 2011
  6. lili #

    Hi Jessica,
    Thank you!!!! I linked to your blog –

    December 3, 2011
    • lili this is amazing – thank you!! I’d really like to talk to you about your art work (and that we both have DINOS named Boogie)! If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at jessdolce at gmail dot com

      December 3, 2011
  7. This is truly wonderful. Thanks for writing. I plan to share far and wide (with full credit of course.)

    December 3, 2011
  8. I have another acronym for you to consider adding to your list. I made it up and have been using it for at least 7 years.

    SPO. (© Cheryl Zovich 2004) It means Stupid Pet Owner. It’s a broad spectrum term meant to describe anything from the idiot who tosses their dog outside and lets it bark (or howl) non-stop all day (or night) to the folks who let their intact pet(s) roam freely and reproduce and/or raise hell with anything that lives in a 5-mile radius. SPO is a wonderfully generic term that covers a lot of blatant pet ignorance and helps me keep my sense of humor. Hey, sometimes you just can’t fix stupid! 😉

    December 3, 2011
  9. Well done!

    December 4, 2011
  10. You need to add to the DINOS pledge: “I will invest the time and effort necessary to help my dog deal with any issues he may have.” I had to, and it was good for both of us.

    December 4, 2011
    • Hi George, You read my mind! I actually did have something like that in there, but took it out, after a lot of thought, because there are so many DINOS that do not have any issues that require training/modification. For instance: service dogs, elderly dogs, working dogs, blind or deaf dogs, or dogs that are social and are being trained to be polite and calm in public. For that reason, I didn’t “require” DINOS to commit to training. However, my own dog is leash reactive and I do believe all families with DINOS that are struggling with behavior problems should committ to working on them. I’ve seen many, many DINOS improve with some effort. Thanks for reading!

      December 4, 2011
  11. K #

    Thank you so much for your blog! Jada, my first dog, doesn’t know what to expect from strange dogs (especially when she’s on the leash) and reacts poorly so we don’t let them near her. She is great with dogs she does know and has passed her CGC (very obedient). Thank you for saying she’s not a bad dog for needing her space! I’ve heard the opposite so many times I was beginning to believe it.

    December 4, 2011
    • Aw, this made me so happy. I live and work with DINOS that I love and I know how wonderful they are…they just need some space! Congrats on Jada’s CGC. She’s a good girl!

      December 4, 2011
  12. L #

    This, and your earlier post, explains everything that I wish I had the presence of mind to say when confronted with a MDIF. My DINOS and I are working on his fear/reactivity issues, and every negative experience with an OLD/MDIF/ROAR sets him back juuuuuuuust that much. If dog owners decided to follow your guidelines, I think we’d have a lot more comfortable DINOS.

    December 4, 2011
  13. Momto3grreatgoldens #

    My neighbor’s dog attacked my late golden retriever “Bailey” twice while we were walking up our street…… both bites required a vet visit. The first incident occurred when this dog jumped it’s own fence on me an my unsuspecting LEASHED dog….the second incident occurred when the attacking dog was an OLD. The owners had the NERVE to say to me “Oh, he just doesn’t like golden retrievers. He is friendly to everyone else…” What the?? How about get out of denial and accept that your dog isnt friendly and possibly a DINOS and you need to protect him and other dogs in the neighborhood!!!!

    December 4, 2011
  14. All you DINOS owners might want to check out a product from our friends at The Pawsitive Dog: The letters on this vest are large enough to be read from a distance! As a trainer, I often hear horror stories from my students about all the ignorant people who can’t seem to get it through their heads that not every dog is as friendly as theirs. In reality, most DINOS are just frustrated or fearful when on leashes, and not truly aggressive (some of them actually do play nicely with others when they are off leash), but some are aggressive enough to bite if “cornered” and it’s not worth the risk for you to let your dog invade a DINOS space to find out. It’s imperative to teach your own dog a proper recall before you ever let it off leash, and it’s also imperative to obey leash laws and only allow your dog off leash in designated areas, dog parks, or on your private property. Oh, and a note about dog parks…they are NOT a place to do remedial socialization on your dog. If your dog has a problem with other dogs, you don’t belong there using other people’s dogs as guinea pigs! Contact a trainer or behaviorist instead.
    Anne Springer
    Make a Tail Wag!

    December 5, 2011
  15. Bob #

    Dysfunctional owners w/ dysfunctional dogs. walking a dog would not require a manifesto if many dogs were not so dysfunctional. dogs are supposed to be free and happy and enjoy engaging. people who believe otherwise should move to Schaumburg and be happy.

    December 6, 2011
    • Actually, Bob, you have a point. That said, there is empirical proof that some dogs are born weak-nerved, which can set them up for a lifetime of fearful, overly reactive or as you succinctly said, dysfunctional behavior in “normal” situations. I suggest you might read Patricia McConnell’s For The Love Of A Dog. I do think the enormously large number of overly reactive dogs today is an indication of several things, such as bad breeding, poor training, canine overpopulation and the fact that we have succeeded in transposing our own human neurosis to our canine companions. I’ve owned multiple dogs for over 40 years. Twenty years ago a canine in emotional “crisis” was almost literally unheard of and when it occurred we didn’t buy books, DVDs, attend special handling classes or anything of that nature to accommodate them. We simply kept them out of mainstream circulation and culled them from breeding practices. Imagine that!

      December 7, 2011
    • Oh Bob, so quick to judge! Would you call Search and Rescue Dogs dysfunctional? Or a teenage dog learning polite leash manners? What about a blind dog? Or one with an injury? How aout a Service Dog working with their disabled person? Have a little compassion – one day your “perfect” dog may too become a DINOS and then you’ll wish others would respect your right to space.

      December 7, 2011
      • I lived with a blind dog for 10 years. He was not a foo-foo pushover, he was a cattle dog. One of my current Cattle Dogs IS dog-reactive … which can be very typical of herding dogs. (Things that make you go “Hmm”) I’m not Bob, but I seriously doubt he was referring to the examples you cited. He makes a valid point. I honestly believe a lot of “reactivity” is self-created by people who …. probably unintentionally … teach their dogs to over-react in certain situations. I know that because I personally had to own some of the crap I created with my dog-reactive dog. Some of it is due to his weak nerves, but some of it is MY fault for over-reacting to his reaction. If you attend special classes for dog reactive dogs you’ll soon learn that the handler’s body language often feeds the dog’s negative reaction process. Often, the human doesn’t even know this and worse, has no idea how to stop it. You’ll never get everyone to respect your dog’s personal space so ideally, the ticket is to try to reprogram you and your dog’s behavior, or take the dog out of mainstream activities. (I’ve done both) Obviously, I’m NOT talking about service dogs etc, etc, etc., but Instead of people boo-hooing about everyone else (which is reactive behavior) owners should start looking for resources to help them cope with their reactive pet. (Proactive behavior) I listed a good resource … why don’t you try to encourage readers (who’ve had success helping their dogs) to share their training methods? I know from personal experience that there are many ways to work on this issue.

        December 7, 2011
  16. HI Rontuaru, That’s kind of the point: you don’t know why a dog might need it’s space (service dog, puppy in training, reactive), so it’s best to exhibit polite manners and ask permission before you allow your dog to interact with a stranger’s dog. This is simply a call for better manners which will lead to safer interactions. It’s the same stuff I teach kids in my dog safety lessons: Common sense, polite manners, respecting each other’s individual needs.

    I have a reactive dog, I’ve assisted in reactive dog training, and I absolutely agree with you about our own body language and our personal responsibility. I encourage those with reactive DINOS to go to training classes (the Facebook page is filled with shared resources), however: no matter how well trained you or your dog may be, when a strange, unwelcome dog is allowed to jump/rush/chase you, it isn’t fair and should not be tolerated. Yes, keep working on your DINOS. No, you don’t have to accept rude behavior from strangers. Will the world become an ideal place for walking DINOS? Of course not, but we can at least try to educate and judging by the emails I’m getting, the message is spreading.

    This is a proactive call for humans to be respectful of each other and to remember their manners while out in public. This little blog post has generated an international discussion about dog etiquette. Vets, dog trainers, and DINOS families are all meeting on the Facebook page, born out of this blog, and they are finding support, resources, and a place to share their stories. They are relieved to discover they are not alone. They are thrilled to find the handouts. Trainers are adding this topic into their classes. There is nothing “boo hoo” about this. It’s all WOO HOO! : )

    December 7, 2011
  17. Disclaimer: This response is largely in reference to dog-reactive dogs, not blind, service or working dogs of any sort. I’m not trying to be sarcastic here, but good luck with that plan! Are the people who are responding to this topic saying, “Wow. I never realized how totally rude I was!” No. Why? Because MDIFs don’t think being “friendly” is rude, even when you tell them it is … as readers have pointed out over and over again in their stories in this blog. The people who are ‘getting’ the message are the people with the problem. They are finding camaraderie here, which is very nice, but that’s not helping them learn how to be proactive or change their situation. You can’t control how other people will act or react in any situation. So short of yelling, “NO!” at the top of your lungs … which by the way, will ratchet up your dog’s nerves immediately … you’re hedging your bets on the good graces of the MDIFs to change their behavior whenever they meet ANY dog because now they’re going to be so enlightened? Let me know how that works out for everyone because it’s been my experience (as someone who lives with a dog-reactive dog) that dog owners are the most belligerent, stubborn people on the planet and will go to great lengths to insist and even try to prove they are right and YOU are wrong. Trust me, I’ve gone toe-to-toe with plenty. Life isn’t fair … so what? If you choose to live with a dog-reactive dog then you need to learn how to cope with their behavior, not point fingers, which is basically what you’re doing. In effect, you’re saying: you’re the problem, not my dog. But it’s not their fault your dog goes nuts when another dog approaches and like Bob said (remember Bob?) most people think dogs are happy. Gee, what a novel thought! So I applaud your noble efforts to educate the public that some dogs are indeed land sharks, however, it seems to me that helping owners of DINOS find solutions that will put THEM in control of their DINOS instead of having to rely on educating the MDIFs would be a lot better (and a more reliable) use of their time. It’s kinda hard to educate someone after your dog has eaten theirs. 😉

    December 7, 2011
  18. I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that I think DINOS shouldn’t be trained and we should only rely on MDIFs to change their ways. And I’m not pointing fingers. I’m pointing out how we’re all responsible for our actions. DINOS families work on their dogs, MDIFs work on being polite. If both sides do their parts, we’d all be better off. And YES, I’ve had quite a few emails from MDIFs who didn’t realize what they were doing could be a problem. I’ve also heard from dog trainers that have begun talking to MDIFs in their classes, explaining why not all dogs want to be greeted. Seems to me that some MDIFs are getting the message. There are a million resources for DINOS to learn how to handle their reactive dogs, but apparently not enough resources for dog owners to learn how to be polite in public. My little blog won’t fix things all together, but it’s still worth a try!

    December 7, 2011
  19. Eve #

    I found you through a link from the Mutts Gone Nuts Facebook page (and Liked the DINOS page on FB). Thanks so much for addressing this topic. I have a DINOS dog who we love and it’s nice to read that we’re not the only ones, and to be reminded that we have rights, too!

    One thing I haven’t noticed you mention and I’m curious about your feelings on this: the electronic fences for dogs. My dog seems to be okay when we walk by a house with a dog out front (presumably controlled by an electronic fence) as long as the dog stays in its own yard, but personally I am a little freaked out because I don’t know for sure that the dog is controlled by the fence (can’t always see the collar) or if it’s even on. I know people have them for aesthetic reasons, but I kind of wish they’d put a little sign out front that says, “Dog is secured by an electronic fence,” for my peace of mind. I’ve only seem something like that when the dog is still in training.

    January 7, 2012
    • Thanks for reading Eve! I’m totally with you…Electric fences scare the begeezers out of me! I too wish that folks would leave the little flags or signs up, so we know a fence exits, but even that does little to stop my stomach from hitting my knees when I see an off leash dog running full speed towards me and the end of his property line. Also, as a former shelter worker, I can’t tell you how many dogs came in as strays, wearing those collars. The batteries died or there was something worth taking a shock for (maybe a squirrel) or the snow was high enough for them to get over the fence “line” and they got out. I get why people use them, but I’m not a fan of electric fences as a main form of containment…time to write a blog about them, I guess?! : )

      January 7, 2012
  20. I am a service dog. My need for space is for a different reason and. I may be working off lead. I wear a vest at work that says “Service Dog – On Duty”: Please, Don’t Touch Me.

    BTW Service dogs don’t wear muzzles…


    January 28, 2012
  21. I just found your blog and it’s great! I have a DINOS, she just doesn’t like off leash dogs coming near her and lets them know. It’s embarassing and I get stressed out because I don’t want to see another dog get hurt, I don’t want people to think she’s mean, she loves people, just not dogs. I’m glad I’m not the only one and of course we work with her all the time. She is fine if they are leashed and will walk on by with no reaction, it’s when they come up off their leash…..

    February 4, 2012

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