The problem: More and more people have dogs that they treat like children and take everywhere. They also expect that everyone they encounter loves their “babies” as much as they do and wants to interact with them. I don’t like dogs. I don’t like them jumping on me, licking me or snarling at me. I don’t want to coo over them or excuse their behavior. Mostly, I try to ignore and avoid them. But what do I do when the pet owner pushes a dog into an interaction with me?

Low road: Growl, then bark loudly, right in that insensitive owner’s face.

High road: You’re right that the world is going to the dogs. There’s four-legged Fiona or Frankie, lying at the feet of its owners enjoying brunch alfresco. Or traipsing through a hardware store, or hoping to get lucky with a dropped hot dog at a sporting event, or traveling in airplane coach. Then, of course, there are the many dogs you likely pass every day on the sidewalk.

Forcing a dog on someone is unacceptable and could lead to bites or trauma. A responsible owner sees any interaction with other humans like approaching a stoplight. It’s always red first, with the leash closely held and an assessment made. Those who don’t want to interact can quickly pass. On the other end, green-lighters will quickly leap in with, “Can I pet your dog?” And “yellow-lighters” are somewhere in between; they likely want to pet the dog, but do so cautiously.

Dog lovers shouldn’t take any of this personally. And you, doggonit, owe nobody an apology for your lack of love here. If you’re cornered, be tactful, but firm. Put up your hand and say, “Oh, I only trust myself with adult humans, and even that’s about 50-50. Enjoy your walk!”


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