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Posts tagged ‘MDIF’

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. 

The Vet’s Office: Waiting Room or Dog Park?

I love going to the doctor. It’s my absolute favorite place to meet new friends.

I especially like meeting new friends at the doctor’s when I feel really sick or have a painful injury. I like to shove the icky, hurty part of my body in stranger’s faces, so they’ll poke at it, while slapping me on the back.

Sometimes I’m just there for an annual check up and I feel fine physically, but I’m nervous. I’m worried that I’m going to sit in the waiting room all day and be late for work. I’m anxious that I’m going to get a mean doctor that will pinch me and talk to me about my BMI again.

When I’m really stressed, that’s when I like to look around to see if there are any people I can make friends with in the waiting room. And when I feel this way, there’s nothing I enjoy more than when other patients run up to me and ask me to do a few Zumba moves with them before it’s my turn to see the doctor.



Yep, I love being sick and nervous, in a tiny space, with no way out, and meeting new friends at the same time.

And see that quiet lady in the corner who’s nervously eating a 100 calorie pack of almonds and trying not to make eye contact with me? I asked her to arm wrestle while I was waiting to pay my bill, but she said “No thank you”.  The nerve!

So you know what I did? I turned to the receptionist and I said, in my best stage whisper, “Some people are so MEAN. I guess that patient’s not friendly, huh?”  I sure showed her how rude she was for telling me no.

SCRREEEEECH! Hold the phone. This is bananaballs, right? No one wants to do group aerobics in the waiting room at the doctor’s. No one goes to the doctor’s to meet a new BFF.

So why are so many people doing this with their dogs in the waiting room at the vet’s office?  If there’s ever a place where dogs need space from each other and the dog owners need to ask permission before their dog approaches another, it’s the vet’s office.

Seriously, why do I have to even explain this? But I do, because this happens constantly, every day, to DINOS owners at the vet.

Lots and lots of people seem to think that socializing at the vet is a good thing and dogs who can’t do that are “bad dogs”. Is it me, or do we have some totally out of whack expectations for dogs when they’re at the vet?

Dogs at the vet are sick, injured, anxious, stressed, or just plain don’t wanna play. Almost every dog at the vet is a DINOS (at least temporarily). It’s not the dog park. It’s a doctor’s office for dogs (and other small animals stuck in their carriers).



Next time you’re at the vet, keep in mind how much you would hate it if every time you went to the doctor’s office, you had to deal with a parade of “friendly” people who invaded your space, touching and poking at you, and talking non-stop. You would hate it and rightly so.

Common sense rules for the vet:

Keep your dog on leash when entering, leaving, waiting, and paying. That’s everything except the exam room.

Lock your flexi-leads. Don’t let dogs wander around, scaring cats and upsetting other dogs.

Ask permission before you allow your dog to approach another dog.

If they say “No”, just accept it.

Don’t call the other dog owner or the dog “mean”.

Don’t passive aggressively whisper about how “unfriendly” that other dog is.

News flash: When you do that, YOU’RE THE MEAN ONE. People go home and cry about how mean you were to them and their struggling dog.

To the staff at the vet’s office: please require and enforce the rule that all dogs must be on leash. Require that all small animals be secured in carriers. Stand up for your clients when other’s treat them badly by reminding everyone that the waiting room is not a dog park and there are sick, injured, and stressed pets in the room – they have a right to their personal space. It’s just safer that way.

And a final note to DINOS families: If you can, wait outside or in the car with your dogs. Ask the staff to let you know when a room is ready, then go directly into the exam room. Ask if there is a back entrance (there usually is) that you can use, so you can avoid the waiting room entirely. Let the staff know ahead of time that your dog needs space – there may be a particular time of the day when it’s slow and you’re less likely to run into crowds.

Fair enough, right? We can do it folks. Respect, compassion, manners – we’ve got that.

Pocket Sized DINOS™ Handouts

UPDATE  10/1/12: Cafe Press is stocking business cards again, so you can now purchase mini-handouts (if the whole DIY Flickr option isn’t your jammy jam).  Find the cards here.

Remember that time when you were walking your DINOS and you noticed a woman and her dog walking straight at you? Remember how you looked around, wondering if there was someone behind you, but there wasn’t, so you realized she was coming for YOU? Remember how she had a big smile on her face as her goofy dog dragged her towards you at an alarmingly fast pace?

And how you had to scramble to get out of the way, but she kept calling “Wait, my dog is friendly!” and “My dog just wants to say hi!” as she chased you across the park? And then, sick of hiding behind trees, you turned around and said, “My dog needs space. Here’s a card that explains everything. See ya!” and then you skipped home smiling because, for once, you didn’t waste any time trying to explain your DINOS to a stranger? Remember that time?

Now those cards exist!

I whipped up a teeny tiny, business card size version of the DINOS Manifesto.  It’s available to all of you to download for free and print at home. Yippee!

All you have to do is go to the new Team DINOS Flickr page and you’ll see two images: DINOS Cards Front and DINOS Cards Back.

Download both images (choose “original” size), then print them out (double-sided style) on a regular sheet of paper or, better yet, business card paper. Viola! You have a pocket-size handout to give out to MDIFs you meet on your walks.

(p.s. If you’re like me and, while you’re with your DINOS, you can’t get close enough to a strange dog to hand these to the other person, feel free to stick them in mail boxes or leave a bunch at the local park.)

Here’s the text on the back:

(note: The text might look blurry here, but when you print it out, the words are clear)

If you live in an area without leash laws or if you use the term “lead” instead of “leash”, here’s a version for you.

And here’s the logo on the front:

Nifty, eh?

I know there’s much more we’d all like to say, but that’s all I could cram onto a business card in a regular size font!  If you’d like to share the full length version, check out the DINOS handouts.

I hope you find these helpful as you spread the word that DINOS are GOOD dogs, they just need space!

(And special thanks to Team DINOS member Nadia B. for giving me the loving push I needed to finally get these suckers out into the world!)

You Might Be a MDIF If…

If you’ve recently read My Dog is Friendly!, it may have left you wondering: I have a friendly dog. Am I a MDIF? 

Or maybe the PSA made you kind of mad. You read it and thought, “Hey! I have a friendly dog. Don’t make me the bad guy here!”

Kind readers, allow me to explain. Just because you have a friendly dog, doesn’t mean you’re a MDIF. If you have a friendly dog and you are a thoughtful, responsible guardian – you obeys leash laws and do not permit your dog to act rudely towards others in public – then you’re probably not a MDIF.

Most MDIFs are well meaning people, totally unaware of how their actions impact others. And they don’t actually realize they’re MDIFs!  So in an effort to spread self-awareness across the land, to keep DINOS and dogs of all kinds safe and stress-free, I’d like to present this MDIF self test.

And just in case you think, “Boy, this lady sure has met some odd people! I’m sure this doesn’t happen to everyone!”, I’ll share a real life MDIF scenario from a different DINOS family to illustrate each test item.

Got your pens ready? You might be a MDIF if…

  • You have actively pursued someone walking their dog, calling out to them, “My Dog is Friendly!”  I don’t mean passing another person on a sidewalk and making this remark. That’s normal. I mean chasing another human, typically one who is hiding or speed walking away from you. If you’ve ever made a u-turn or crossed the street to follow someone, so that your dogs can meet each other, you might be a MDIF.

Real Life MDIF spotted by Kathryn H. “I had someone follow me across the street and then back to the other side of the street again. When I turned around to walk the other way, because the person was obviously not getting it, they called “Wait up! My dog wants to say hi to yours!”


leash sign

  • You allow your dogs to run off leash, in a designated on-leash area. You let them approach strange dogs, without asking the owner’s permission. You are too far away from your dogs to catch them and you do not have voice control over them. If you’ve ever stood by and watched your dog follow or chase an on-leash dog, you might be a MDIF.

Real Life MDIF spotted by Renee K. “I  had two off leash dogs running towards me, crossing streets, while I’m yelling at their owner to get her dogs. She was walking slow and yelling how her dogs were friendly, while I’m yelling “Mine isn’t!” The dogs were fast and caught up with us quickly, so I had to pick up my 45 pound pit bull, while the two small dogs are jumping up my legs and the owner is taking her time coming to get them. When she finally got there I told her, again, to leash her dogs and I felt like she looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!”


  • You are adamant that your dog should meet all dogs, regardless of the other dog’s comfort level. If you’ve ever insisted, despite protests from the other party, that your dogs should meet and be friends, you might be a MDIF.

Real Life MDIF spotted by Jennifer S. “I have a dog reactive, territorial German Shepherd Dog. She is especially reactive to small dogs and to other female dogs. One day, I had her out in our fenced back yard…While I did some gardening, I heard her start to go ballistic – charging the fence, growling, and barking. When I ran over to see what was wrong, I saw our sweet, but clueless neighbor holding up her Rat Terrier mix to the fence. I pointed out that Frieda was dog-reactive and given enough incentive could probably clear our six-foot fence, so she should leave. She continued to hold her dog up to the fence and told me, “It’s okay – my dog is friendly. Everyone loves my dog, and I just want them to be friends.”


  • You believe that dogs can and should sort out problems on their own. You feel that, if need be, our dogs will teach your dogs a lesson. If you’ve ever disregarded a stranger’s plea to keep your dogs away and said, “It’s ok. My dog needs to learn” you might a MDIF.

Real Life MDIF spotted by Rachel M. “I was getting into the car with my 40 pound dog when a large off-leash Akita and his owner came strolling down the street. She said “My dog is friendly!” as he advanced, and I said “My dog is not!” She replied, “Then my dog will learn”, right as my dog lunged. In response, the Akita immediately went after my dog. I managed to kick him away and shove mine in the car. I wondered, what did she expect her dog to learn?”


  • You think that if other people knew the correct way to introduce dogs to each other, all dogs would get along. You feel obligated to show them how it should be done, regardless of their protests. If you’ve ever grabbed a stranger’s leash or physically interfered with another person’s dog, you might be a MDIF.

Real life MDIF spotted by Briana K. “A man came around a blind corner with a Golden and surprised Dexter and me. Dex snapped a bit. We were trapped on a crowded sidewalk waiting for a light, so I turned Dexter around. I kid you not, this man pulls his dog around and sticks the dog’s rump in Dexter’s face, saying, “It’s important that they have a positive interaction.” Luckily, Dexter was so confused by this that I had another moment to turn him around, yet again, and tell the guy it wouldn’t end up being positive if he kept forcing his dog on mine.”

  • You think that because your dog is wonderful, all dogs will like him. You believe other people are wrong when they tell you their dogs don’t like your dog. You think they will be happily surprised by your dog’s magic friend-making skills.  If you’ve ever ignored someone’s attempts to avoid your dog, calling out “It’s ok! Everyone likes Buster!” you might be a MDIF.

Real life MDIF spotted by Heather M. “My neighbors, who are nice, but clueless, used to let their dog, Sammy, out loose while I was walking my dogs, Iggy and Priscilla. I would say to my neighbors, “No, no! They don’t like Sammy!”  My neighbor would look at me like I had three heads and say, “But everyone likes Sammy!”


  • You get personally offended when someone does not greet your dogs. If you’ve ever spoken in a stage whisper to your dog, so that the other person can hear how offended you are, you might be a (passive aggressive) MDIF.

Real life MDIF spotted by Jenn G. “I walk many DINOS-by-design for my SPCA (they are DINOS  because they are shelter dogs and volunteers are required, while walking them, to keep them away from other dogs and the public due to a variety of reasons, like vaccinations and stress. This policy is to protect both the shelter dogs and the public’s dogs). Once, I was walking a lovely Rottie-cross shelter dog, minding my own business when a black Lab came flying toward us, with the owner not far behind. I called out “Could you do me a favor…and please leash your dog? I have an SPCA dog here”. After arguing in vain with him for a few minutes (from him: “Don’t worry, my dog is friendly” and “Oh, he needs to be socialized, that’s all”), the man stormed away. But later our paths crossed several times on the same set of trails. Every time we passed he would lean into his dog and say to the dog in an extra loud voice, so as to be sure that everyone nearby was listening, “No dear you can’t go and see THAT dog. THAT dog thinks he is really, really special because he lives in a shelter. THAT dog is too good to say hi to you…I know you’re disappointed sweetie. Let’s go now!”. I’m not joking – he did this three times!


  • You understand that some dogs need space, but because you love dogs, you think this doesn’t apply to you. If you’ve ever been told that a dog is afraid of strangers, but you insist it’s ok for you to pet them because you’re really good with dogs, you might be a MDIF (Tricky, eh? You didn’t even have a dog with you here!).

Real life MDIF spotted by Kelly S. “I was in the parking lots of the vet’s office with my dog who is scared of new people. This woman came walking over asking to pet him, but I told her, “No thank you, my dog is afaid of strangers.”  Instead of respecting my wishes, she just kept coming, saying, “It’s ok, all dogs love me!” and proceed to try to pet him over his head, while he ducked away from her hand. I had to stand in front of him to body block her from further attempts.


  •  You know that leash laws and “no dogs allowed” rules exist, but you don’t think they apply to you because your dogs are so friendly. If you’ve ever let your dogs run loose in  pharmacy, a pet store, or any other place where they’re not allowed or are required to be leashed, you might be a MDIF.

Real life MDIF spotted by Rebecca A. “Our local Home Depot is dog friendly, so we often bring in our people-loving pittie and American Bulldog when we shop there for a little Nosework practice. This weekend, a couple was there with two Rhodesian Ridgebacks off leash and not under good voice control. What were they thinking? I got the usual response from the couple when I asked them to call their dogs back – “They’re just being friendly!”


  • You believe it’s rude not to let dogs meet each other. You think it’s unfriendly when someone pulls their dog to the side and puts them in a sit-stay, so your dogs can’t meet. You think all dogs should be able and willing to meet other dogs and if not, something is wrong with them and their owners. If you’ve ever called someone a nasty name, criticized their dog, shouted at them for being rude, or stormed off in a huff, simply because they do not want to meet you, you might be a MDIF.

Real life MDIF spotted by Gato L. “A woman let her off leash dog approach the dog I was walking, a shy puppy. The off leash dog was approaching in a pretty aggressive manner- hackles up, ears and tail forward, all that. I can’t recall what I said at the time, as I was too busy trying to keep her dog away and mine from freaking out. But I recall her saying, “Is your dog EVIL? Dogs should be allowed to meet! Look, he wants to say hi! It’s natural! It’s not fair to keep them from greeting!”  It took all the treats I had to get the “evil”, cowering puppy back home.


  • You allow your children to chase, touch (without permission), or shout at other people’s dogs. If you’ve ever stood by while your child runs up to a strange dog and shouted, “It’s ok, he loves dogs!”, you might be a MDIF (Another tricky one! But it doesn’t matter if it’s your dogs or your kids that are friendly – same rules apply).

Real life MDIF spotted by Jackie D. “I was walking along a country lane, with my needs-space-from-everything rescue dog. A little way ahead was my friend with her not-keen-on-children rescue dog. A family was approaching. Both of us took our dogs up onto the verge and put them into a sit. The two small children ran away from their parents and flung their arms around my friend’s dog. My friend yelled, “Call your children away, my dog doesn’t like children!” Guess what the parents said? “That’s all right, they don’t mind.”  Yes, we yelled at the parents – they were very lucky they picked my friend’s dog to hug, not mine.”


If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, you may be a MDIF. But fear not! Knowing is half the battle. Many of us are former MDIFs, but have learned from our mistakes.

As Oprah always says, “When you know better, you do better” and I’m absolutely sure she was talking about MDIFs.

Now that you know about DINOS, you understand that they have valid reasons for needing space from other dogs (and sometimes people), so you can change your approach. It’s simple, really. Obey leash laws, ask permission before approaching, and respect personal boundaries. Before you know it, you’ll have left the MDIF category and can live, acronym free, as a responsible owner of a friendly dog!

DINOS™ Handouts are Here!

Want to spread the DINOS message? Check out these pdfs of your favorite blog posts!

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