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!”
- 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!