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10 Signs The Other Person’s Just Not That Into You (or Your Dog)

It’s Dog Bite Prevention Week again and lots of good lessons about understanding dog body language are being shared. We all need to learn dog body language.  Life would be grand if everyone understood and respected what dogs are trying to tell us.

But have you noticed that some humans pretty much stink at understanding human body language…or even spoken language (aka “language-language”)? Maybe we’re expecting a lot of  those folks to ask that they become fluent in dog body language. For them, we might need to start with some same-species tips. This one is for them:

Hello humans. Many of you love meeting new dogs and people while you’re out walking the dog. That’s neat!

But here’s the thing: some people just aren’t that into meeting you or your dog. It really doesn’t have anything to do with you. You’re awesome. It’s just that some of us prefer solo time when we’re out walking. Not every dog can socialize on walks. Some dogs need a little space to stay safe and healthy and don’t want to be approached.

In other words: there are people who don’t want to say hi, even if you and your dogs are super friendly.

But how will you know who’s down for a jam session with you and your pup? All you have to do is pay attention to the person holding the leash. They’ll let you know.

Here are 10 clues that the other person’s just not that into you or your dog:

Clue #1:  A furrowed brow (also known as the “11”) in between the eyebrows. This indicates annoyance. Or that your brights are on.

Bonus Clue: There are some people who can’t warn you off this way because of Botox. Tricky, right?

Photo credit: Emery Co Photo (Some rights reserved: Share Alike, Attribution)

Clue #2: Eyes that are wide open are a sign of fear or shock. The only time a person is shocked in a good way is when they find money. Are you a bag o’ cash? Then keep on going.

Also, notice the open mouth.

Are words coming out? If so, listen to them. They may be saying something important such as, “Please stop. My dog needs space.”

Photo credit: Chapendra (some rights reserved: attribution, non-commercial)

Clue #3: If you heard words, but are still not sure what they mean, look at their face again. People who are horrified that you’re not listening to them may look like they accidentally got wet cat litter in their mouths.

If you think this expression means, “Let’s get a man-pedi on Friday after work!” you are mistaken.

Photo credit: Sean Dreilinger (Some rights reserved: share alike, attribution, non-commercial)

Clue #4: Nope. Still not psyched to see you and your dog.

Photo credit: CapturingJenna (some rights reserved: share alike, attribution, non-commercial)

Clue #5: Words spoken at a normal volume are often misinterpreted. Is that other person making a joke? Is it Opposite Day? No. 

If ignored, many humans will shout. Do you see the fillings in their back molars? This is a sign to retreat. You may compliment them on their dental work, but only from a distance.

Buster Benson:

Photo credit: Buster Benson (some rights reserved: share alike, attribution)


Clue #6: Still not sure if they want to hang out or not? That’s when a good detective of human body language looks at the person’s hands. 

When a person’s requests are ignored and they feel trapped, some humans may go nuts and start to pull out their hair. Or punch you in the crotch.

Photo Credit: B. Cymet (some rights reserved: attribution, non-commercial)

Clue #7: Wait, there’s more! Keep looking at their hands. Do you see a palm? If the other person raises their hands, showing a flat open palm, it means “Stop!”

It does not mean “How long is my life line?”

Photo credit: Steven Snodgrass (some rights reserved: attribution)

Clue #8: Finally, if you’re looking at the back of a person they are now ignoring you. They can still hear you. They aren’t turning around because they don’t wanna. 

If you see a person’s back while they are running away, do not follow them no matter how friendly you and your dog may be. 

Accept that this fleeing human is not your new BFF.

Photo Credit: StarMama (some rights reserved: attribution)

Clue #9: Let’s put it all together now. This person’s body language says, “Leave me and my dog alone!”

Or possibly, “Do you know who got eliminated on The Voice last night? I’m rooting for Team Shakira!”


Photo Credit: Bo47 (Some rights reserved: share alike, attribution, non-commercial)

Clue #10: Don’t worry nice folks with dogs! There are plenty of people that want to hang with you and your dogs. Like these dudes. This is the loose body language of people who want you to know that they give out free hugs. So bring it on in, nice and close. These are your people.

Photo credit: PJ Baldes (some rights reserved: attribution, non-commercial)

Want some real thoughts on how to prevent dog bites and make our communities safe and enjoyable for everyone? Check out my real PSA: Ask First! and learn more about how being respectful and responsible is super cool. Really, all the cool kids are being polite these days.

p.s. If you’d like a little help telling the world that your dog needs space, there are all kinds of nifty items to check out here. 

  1. katwayp #

    Great post! The photos are awesome and help explain. It’s amazing how many people can’t read human or dog body language.

    May 22, 2013
  2. Reblogged this on Zerobites Dog Training.

    May 23, 2013
  3. Reblogged this on oh melvin (and yo jake) and commented:
    I could write a new post today, but it wouldn’t be as awesome as this one! Love, love, love it! Check it out…

    May 23, 2013
  4. Lynn #

    Walked my two rescues at the park at 10:00 at night a few weeks ago, while a baseball game was going on. Some guy took his snarling little furry darling off of the bleachers and put her directly in the middle of the path we were following to force a meet. I tried to avoid and then I simply had to say “We don’t need to meet.” I’m disappointed in myself that I ended up blaming it on my rescues — who have abuse issues — but really it was his darn unfriendly dog and his insistence that they all meet ‘on-leash.” Who doesn’t know that’s just a recipe for disaster?

    May 23, 2013
  5. It never fails to amaze me that people will ignore the obvious and plow ahead anyway. The pictures really drive your point home.

    May 23, 2013
  6. I have never re-blogged anything! This is spectacular!!!

    May 23, 2013
  7. Lindsay #

    Love it! Could you add, “when my six month old twins are both melting down I need to keep moving so no I really can’t stop and chat right now and answer all your questions!” 🙂

    May 23, 2013
  8. Jennifer #

    I have a reactive dog. Well he wasn’t at first but became that way after we were jumped from behind by two 50 lb Boxer dogs off leash (and no collars either). The owner opened the front door and stepped out with his two dogs with intentions of them jumping into his truck. The Boxer’s saw us and all we felt was a big “whoosh” of air from behind and then the fight was on. These dogs were punching the crap out of me and then biting my pup. All the owner could do at that point was scream at them and kick them to get away. And just a note of caution for anyone out walking their dogs~if you call 911 they will not send out officers unless your are injured and need an ambulance. Eventually Animal Control will come depending on whether they have enough officers or not. Carry a boat horn, some pepper spray, a walking stick, treats or if you have a hoodie on take it off and fling it and then try to find safety when out with your dog in a neighborhood or park. It’s a shame that some dog owners let their dogs stand outside and bark at joggers, dog walkers, children, or car’s through the fence. It just makes the dog’s aggressive b/c after all a dog’s innate instinct is to guard their territory and some dogs will climb or jump the fence to get at that target. And please for the neighbor who brings her 5 yr old grandson to the chain link fence to pet the doggy or the parent’s of young children at the park who say “go ahead it’s alright you can pet the puppy” without even consulting the owner…STOP IT!! You are invading HIS/HER space. There are signs and signals that a dog gives(since they don’t speak human they have great body language). I finally bought a yellow harness that has the DINOS (Dogs In Need of Space) saying on it. Now they just look at us both with rolling eyes and I know what they are thinking….”Oh Look…she has a vicious dog”…No, just a “reactive” one 🙂

    May 23, 2013
  9. One might think that #8 is common sense, but I’ve had people try to follow me as I tried to get away from them. and I wasn’t just walking away, I was zig zagging, ducking behind buildings, hiding in bushes, etc.. they just kept coming.. Aaargh!!!

    To on lady, I screamed “Go Away!” several times. She continued to pursue while apologizing. As i rushed to my car, I had visions of her hanging off my mirror as I sped away. She finally broke pursuit when I made it to my vehicle though…

    May 23, 2013
  10. Ugh. So true. We were at a park a few evenings ago with our DINOS on leashed hooked to the picnic table when a local resident and his off-leash German shepherd came to the park so the dog could potty.

    I could tell in an instant the GS was going to come running over to us as soon as he was done. And of course he did, with Mr. Oblivious paying no attention despite seeing my walking to a point between him and us and giving off really unfriendly body language.

    We hollered at the guy to leash his dog and got an angry refusal because “he’s not going to hurt you!”

    Well, dude, that’s not the problem! My dog is gonna hurt him!!! People need to understand that leash laws protect their dog from my dog… The guy was so indignant. Very frustrating.

    Fortunately, after a brief snarf from our dog, our dog settled down and the guy finally hollered loud enough that the GS listened and went to him and they went home.

    I guess it’s no wonder we have trouble reading canine body language when, as a species, we can’t even read our own.

    May 23, 2013
    • Therese #

      He’s not going to hurt you…

      Great, then he won’t mind when I pepper spray him.

      I’ve got zero tolerance for jerks who think their dog can just run amok. These sort of self-centered individuals can not imagine that everyone in the world did not wake up this morning anticipating interacting with their dog. How do they move among us with such an overinflated ego. For those of us who have dogs with age and medical issues, that we’re trying to squeak out a few more quality weeks or months – the rude dog with the clueless owner is more than an annoyance – they can be life endangering. My leashed dog has a right to her unmolested time on the sidewalk or in the park.

      May 24, 2013
      • Great, then he won’t mind when I pepper spray him….

        Dang! Wish I’d thought of that line! 🙂

        May 24, 2013
  11. As an owner of two leash reactive dogs and a dog trainer myself, this is absolutely fantastic! I am passing this on to dog trainer/behavior consultants and dog book authors I have worked with. I am also going to include a link to your post in an upcoming post of mine So rarely do people pay attention to dog owners or their dogs when out for a walk. I absolutely love the humor. Reactive dogs are not bad dogs nor does it mean they have been abused or suffer a terrible past. Just like humans, not everyone loves strangers in our space. Hugs anyone?

    Get absolutely fabulous information on how to read a dog’s body language, teaching people how to properly meet a dog, and more here. (This is my colleague’s website).

    May 23, 2013
  12. littlemissjackie #

    Mom and I luv this post very much, Miss Jessica! (Although I am usually so loud and rude to other doggies that their moms and dads get the message, BOL!)

    May 24, 2013
  13. Sophia Yin has done some incredible materials that explain in a way that anyone can understand WHY dogs don’t like to be run at, chased, grabbed, etc.

    May 24, 2013
  14. Can I translate it in french ? I absolutely love this. This is awesome !

    May 26, 2013
  15. A reblogué ceci sur Le Grand Câlin and commented:
    Un autre excellent (et très drôle) article de “Notes from a dog walker” (créateurs des DINOS). Sera traduit (si j’obtient la permission). Bonne lecture !

    May 26, 2013

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