“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” ~Josh Billings   


Photo courtesy of Brittany Graham Photography

It’s a beautiful day in the park and you and your pup are enjoying a nice leisurely walk. Then, all of a sudden, a little girl with pig tails, popsicle residue all over her mouth and crazy eyes sees your dog. It’s love at first sight, or crazy obsession at first sight. You see her start to run for your dog and your pup sees it to. You make eye contact with your dog and all you can see is him saying “please, please save me. I won’t chew any more of your shoes… for a day… I promise”. What do you do?

I will love you to death!!!!!

I will love you to death!!!!!

So, it’s not always this dramatic. But, you’ve more than likely been asked if a stranger can pet your dog before. Social cues make us feel like we must be inclined to say yes, otherwise we’re deemed as “rude” or your dog as “aggressive”. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. You’re responsible for your dog, which means you get to make the decision and either way it’s right.

Take into consideration your dog’s personality, including your dog’s personality that specific day. If usually your pup is mellow and could care less go for it. However, if that day he’s been rambunctious and a little irritable, it may be best to say no.

How to Say No

Easiest way is to politely say “no, right now we’re focusing on our walk” or “Fido’s working right now, so no I’m sorry”. However, “no” is not always well accepted. Feel free to add some body language to your phrasing.

Place your body in between the individual and your dog. You can do this by putting your leg in front, or using your entire body. Stand up straight and with confidence. This not only lets the other individual know that your dog is off limits, but it also communicates to your dog that you are handling the situation. Most individuals will accept the answer, especially once you add the body language. If they are persistent (like 5 year olds can be) feel free to take a small step forward emphasizing the space between the individual and your dog. Dog’s aren’t the only ones that react to body language. We do as well on a daily basis. So use what you have!

Photo courtesy of Brittany Graham Photography

Photo courtesy of Brittany Graham Photography

When you are able to walk by the situation, try and keep your body between your dog and the individual still. You’re letting your dog know that you are protecting him and he can trust you in these situations. Each time you and your pup get through one of these scenarios together alive, the more trust he’ll have in you and the more money in your Piloting bank.

Go with Your Gut

Trust your instincts. If you feel that your dog is not in the mood to deal with sticky fingers, then don’t let him. Don’t force your dog into an uncomfortable position. You’re his Pilot, which means you have to make sure you’re looking out for him. You’re a team after all.

If you’re not in the mood to deal with anyone, that’s fine too. Trust me, I understand the need to just be outside with you and your dog. No distractions, no small talk, just walking and bonding.

Just remember, quick answer, strong body language and move on.



Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>