As a Pet Owner, you can probably identify with this scenario. You’re taking your pup for a morning stroll when all of a sudden, usually at the most inopportune time like when you’re bending over to clean up after a potty break, some strangers approach with hand outstretched, ready to pet your pup without permission.
And, of course, there are good intentions here. After all, the dog lovers of the world are an excited bunch. They’re likely eager to connect with your pup and tell you a heart-warming story about their own doggo.
However, not all dogs are so happy to have a stranger’s hand in their face. Beyond that, not are all of those outstretched hands so gentle. This is especially so when it comes to excited children who aren’t aware of how rough they can be.
Of course, receiving attention from strangers is an important part of socialisation for your doggo. However, is there a way to go about stranger interactions that is comfortable for your pet, safe for your pup’s new friends, and stress-relieving for you?
Here are some tips for letting people pet your dog!
Tip #1: Make sure you can anticipate meetings with strangers
Do you have a pooch who is still learning how to behave around new people? If so, it’s going to be really helpful to control their environment as much as possible. To meet this goal, you or your Dog Walker should walk your pup in the early morning when you know there will be fewer people on the sidewalk. Another option is to walk them during the day in an uncrowded area. By doing so, you’ll be able to focus all of your attention on each interaction.
Tip #2: When introducing your dog to strangers, be proactive
When someone tries to approach your pooch, make it clear that you’re in training. Once you’ve established this, give the strangers clear instructions on how to pet your dog. It doesn’t matter if your dog is 2 months old or 12 years old; a stranger should respect the clear boundaries that you set. Here’s something friendly you might say:
“Good morning! This is Spark. He’s friendly but we’re also working on politeness training. Would you like to pet him?”
From here, you can clearly state what you’d like the stranger to do, whether it’s approaching with an upturned palm or standing in one place and waiting for your dog to approach them.
Tip #3: Relax and be patient
It can be a bit annoying to have people walking up to your pet without your permission. Unfortunately, your doggo may interpret your annoyance as: “This person is an enemy. I must defend.”
Whether we like it or not, dog lovers are going to be drawn to our gorgeous pups. With this in mind, it’s important that we set the tone of the interaction. As much as you can, try to remain calm, neutral, and even friendly.
And hey, sometimes it’s okay to tell people no. If you’re not able to give your full attention or your doggo hasn’t been behaving well on your walk, you can say something like: “Hi there! I’m really sorry but we’re still training and my pup just isn’t doing a good job at being friendly today. Maybe you can pet them another time.”
After hearing that friendly voice, your pooch will remain calm, the strangers won’t take offence, and you’ll feel more in control of the whole situation.
Tip #4: Give plenty of praise
With every successful meeting, you should treat your pup like the best doggo in the whole world. That’s going to ensure that your dog learns what a positive interaction with strangers looks like. This will encourage them to make even more friends in the future.
These tips will help you to create calm, safe interactions between your dog and those dog-loving strangers. So keep with it, and give plenty of treats and verbal encouragement. Soon, your pup will be the most popular pooch on the block!