Dont grab my face

         Today I was out with my dogs as usual walking around at a local off leash park when I saw a guy from about 100 feet away.  As he looked at me and my dogs, who all walked calmly beside me, he seemed excited.  Well I was walking in the same direction and at one point we were approaching the water bowl when he started making high pitched sounds and began grabbing any dog he could reach.  I immediately said to myself "my dogs are not getting touched by this guy".  At one point he reached for a small dog that was obviously afraid and the owner said " he will bite you".  To this the guy responded "well I'm not a baby I can handle it if the dog does".  

       It seems to me that the fact that this is normal is frightening.  That a person will grab random dogs without knowing them and attempt to get a response from them just boggles my mind.  I understand why they do it, but I still m boggled in my mind.  From what I have seen in the dog world I just can't see things the same anymore.  When I see a dog now I think to myself "that is a domesticated predator, not a baby".  But we treat them like babies and we allow strangers to do whatever they want to them.  Someday when the dogs warning signs have been ignored for so long the owner doesn't even see them, the dog bites a person.  Sadly, it is always the dog that pays the price, and only sometimes the human.  

      Thats not to say that there are many dogs that will never bite a person no matter what the person does to them.  Thats not to say that we should never grab a dog we love or make a high pitched sound or squeeze their face.  Its just to say we need to be aware of what we are doing.  We need to be aware as individuals and as a society of what things we are normalizing.  Normalizing to the point that I choose to keep my dogs 10 feet away from a person like that.  Not because my dogs bite, but because I respect them and I love them.  I don't want to put them in a position where they cannot say "no".   To me, a person who is in auto pilot high intensity petting mode is a danger to me and my dogs.  This is the type of person who when I do say "my dog seems nervous", or "she is a little shy", or even "my dog bites".  My words are shrugged off and they say "I know dogs and this dog is not what you say it is". 

      The truth is no, this doesn't happen everytime, or even most times.  However, when I see the warning signs and feel that unease in my gut, I have already made up my mind.  This person will not touch my dogs.  It seems like a little thing and don't get me wrong I am a very friendly person.  If I was to walk around paranoid about everyone touching my dogs my dogs would be paranoid.  Often times I do find myself in the appropriate setting with the right person and my dogs do end up getting pet or met or "loved" by people.  For my dogs, it goes deeper than all this and I think thats what  I am really trying to get across.  When we feel those feelings and we ignore them, we approach anyways or let the "threat" in, our dogs can sense it.  Our dog knows that the leader has left the building.  They can see our worry and then our giving up our position to another being.  If you struggle with a fearful dog or a dog that is just getting used to being around people these little things are not little things.  

    So in the end don't walk around about to yell at anyone who touches your dog.  At the same time don't ever feel pressured to let someone touch your dog.  At the end of the day, its your dog and your possession and only you have the right to decide who can and cannot touch it.  Often times I meet people who are afraid to take their dog in public because they don't want to have someone think they are rude or mean by denying access to their pet.  The truth is, you are not being rude, you are being honest, and being especially considerate of your furry companion.  When you stand up for yourself and your dog, your dog can sense it.  If your dog struggles with knowing who the leader is, as many dogs do, this is a great way to gain their trust. At the same time by controlling access to humans you teach your dog to look to you to decide when to approach a person, when to leave your side, and when to let their guard down to someone you have deemed safe.  Like I tell people, if you can't even stop one person from petting your dog, how are you going to convince your dog that you can keep them safe from the entire world.

Eric StokellComment