Dog walkers; a polite no means no.

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Sog, dogs. dog walkers, children scared  of dogs
This dog looks very friendly, but my daughters would find it terrifying (Just FYI, this dog has never met my children). Pic credit below.

Dogs, by and large, are lovely creatures. I grew up surrounded by the things. Unfortunately my children are scared of them. This is particularly the case with Helen, my eldest daughter, who had a few unpleasant experiences with dogs jumping up at her when she was a toddler.

As a result of this, we’re very big on the doggy stranger danger message. We tell our kids not to approach strange animals. It’s a message I consider to be common sense.

You never know what an animal’s temperament is like. Kids are usually inclined to see the best in any situation and won’t necessarily appreciate that dogs can sometimes be;

a) aggressive and nasty or
b) ridiculously friendly and refuse to leave you alone.

Whenever we’re out and I spot a dog that’s been let of its leash, I get the kids to stop what they’re doing and stand next to me. More often than not, the dog will run over, have a sniff and then run off again.

If I don’t do this, Helen will spot the dog herself and run off in the opposite direction screaming. This then sets off her youngest sister. The result? Two scared children are running across parkland, followed by me shouting at them to keep still (as running just makes the dog more curious). I, in turn, am being followed by a curious, barking, dog while the animal’s owner lumbers up behind calling after their quadruped.

You’re probably thinking we should have made efforts to teach our kids how to behave around dogs. The fact is we have. They’ll happily play with their grandmother’s dog and love to take him for walks. As I said at the beginning, it stems from when my eldest daughter was a toddler and strange, off the leash animals jumped up at her.

I find the attitude of some dog owners to be really irritating. When the above scenario takes place, we’ll usually be in a park or some form of wide open space. I have no option but to shout after the kids to warn them a dog is coming. They know the drill; a strange dog is in the area and so they run over to me.

As I’ve had to shout, the owner frequently hears what I’ve said. I can guarantee the resulting exchange will take place when they get close enough to speak to me;

“He / she is very friendly, they can come and say hello.”

“That’s very kind, but they’re both a bit scared of dogs.”

On hearing this, I would simply say “I understand” and move on. In my experience the majority of dog owners look at me like I’ve said something horrendously offensive and stand their ground.

“But he / she won’t hurt them. They can come over and have a stroke.”

“No thank you, they’re scared of dogs, they had a few bad experiences with strange animals jumping up at them when they were younger.”

”No, honestly, he / she is fine.”

I have to keep my cool, but at this point I want to lose it. I’ve explained that my children are scared of dogs. To illustrate the point, I usually have a child clinging on to each leg. In my opinion this should be enough to persuade the owner to move on but it rarely is.

To continue pushing the point makes no sense. It’s like taking Indiana Jones to the reptile house of the local zoo, like giving an arachnophobic a tarantula as a birthday present or arranging to take your claustrophobic lover for a dirty weekend on a submarine. I’ve said nothing rude about the animal, I haven’t criticised its behaviour, my children have an issue with dogs and I simply want the owner to go about their business.

“Thank you, but we’re trying to teach the children not to approach strange dogs.”

This usually persuades the owner to leave us in peace. They can look slightly offended but I’m really not bothered.

I had such an exchange yesterday. On this occasion the owner really pushed the point that her animal was harmless. She didn’t want to drop it and I found it so annoying as I had children hanging off me, both of them clearly frightened.

A polite “no” really does mean just that; “no”. It’s not a big deal and it makes absolute sense that a child would be scared of an animal two or three times their size. Please, just move on, walk you dog and leave us alone.

What’s your experience with dog walkers? Can you relate to the above. Maybe you have dogs and wish to respond. You’re very welcome to leave a comment below.

Pic credit; Cams. Sourced from Pixabay.com. Reproduced under Creative Commons agreement. For further information about Creative Commons pplease see my Disclosure page.

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20 thoughts on “Dog walkers; a polite no means no.”

  1. Fiona @ Free Range Chick

    I’m not a person that grew up surrounded by dogs. My mum really didn’t like them, and was always a bit anally retentive about dog mess. I have inherited her hatred for dog mess (to the point where I’ve blogged about it and rejoice when I find dog-free areas within parks).

    I don’t have a fear of dogs, but I don’t particularly like touching and stroking them (or vice versa) when I’m out and about. They’re animals, they’re a bit dirty (they like to lick each other’s backsides) and I’m frequently out, nowhere near soap and water, not to mention usually planning on some outdoor catering for my pre-school-aged children.

    Dog owners regularly come over, and my elder son has always been a little fearful of canines. We have a good friend who has taught him how to behave around dogs, and now Finley is cautious but not panicked.

    My younger son, however, keeps hitting dogs. He hit a dog the other day because I addressed the dog instead of him. This worries me, as one day a dog will retaliate. This shouldn’t be my problem. My children didn’t go up to your dog, your dog came to us. Train your dog to keep itself to itself, much the same as I tell me children to to stay with me.

    Life would be simpler that way. If we want an animal to pet, we’ll go to the farm, or buy a pet. We don’t want to interact with your dog. Thanks anyway.

  2. Personally I find it really unnerving if a dog approaches the kids when were in the park or wherever. As nice as most dogs are and I’m sure they are, I am not one of those people who can put my trust in an animal that ultimately could be dangerous no matter what the owner tells me. It’s a case of better to be safe and sorry for me. For some reason they always want to leave their muddy footprints all over me or stick their nose somewhere it’s not wanted- the dog that is, not the owner 😉

  3. My annoyance when walking Bob, he must be on a lead at all times, is other dog owners who approach with their dog to ‘socialise’ my dog is usually cowering behind me and I wish they’d just move on also. I end up dragging my dog away. When he is off lead it is the desert with other dogs and he has no issues with socializing off lead, the only people there are dog owners. Most evenings hubby and I walk to the local shops and children just approach us without their parents asking, I ask them not to and explain that in this heat I do not know how my dog will react.

    1. In the interests of fairness, I have to say you raise a very valid point. Some parents do not teach their kids not to approach strange dogs. This must be a huge issue for dog owners and you have my sympathy. It can’t be easy to deal with.

      1. Whether a child approaches a dog or a dog approaches a child, if it bites, it gets put down and that’s why I’m not a big fan of allowing kids to approach my dog without notice and warning. i am happy to allow children to pet him but with my guidance. he is a very friendly dog, but like I said in this heat, you just never know how he’d react.

  4. John, I really think it would be worthwhile you doing something with the girls to address their fears. I understand the dog owner’s reaction a little as my mum has a lovely friendly Staffie & gets very upset when grown adults cross the road to avoid them. Most owners know the potential dangers & are responsible enough to realise this but I believe stories in the media & other things make this more of a hysterical issue than it needs to be. Certainly you might find your walks less stressful all round if you took Helen somewhere to help her deal with it. Dogs Trust do safety packages for schools that teach children & owners how to do this. It might be worth you contacting them to see how they might be able to help.

    1. Thanks Sue, it’s not quite so black and white. The kids will play with their grandmother’s dog. They have no fear of him. It’s when strange dogs chase them or jump up at them the problems start. Although dog owners may have the best intentions, putting my kids on the spot and insisiting their animal is just being friendly does not help. I don’t want my kids encouraged to approach strange animals.

  5. I would have felt exactly the same as you, until we got a dog that is. I really hope that I’ve not become one of the dog owners that you describe! My middle child was always terrified of dogs, which is why we got one and now she has no fear at all of either him or other 4-legged creatures. I think I *might* have suggested at some time or another that acting a little hesitant, or suggesting a dog might not be friendly, isn’t best practice with a child who is scared – it will just encourage it. But having said that, your advice is common sense and an important one for over-zealous kids to learn. Not all dogs are friendly! Perhaps encouraging your child to stroke a lovely calm one might help? I guess all dog owners just want to help really.

    1. Well Suzanne, it’s a bit chicken and egg. Both kids will happily play with Granny’s Jack Russel terrier. They’ll walk it and get on the floor and roll around with it and everything. I don’t want them to be scared of dogs, but I do want them to treat animals with respect and undersatnd the boundaries. Strange dogs will approach them and they’ve been told many a time how to handle the situation (stand still, let the dog sniff you). Alas, they just had too many dogs jump up at them and it has frightened them. I’m afraid some dog owners don’t help by insisting their dogs are safe to handle. I don’t wish to encourage that as the kids will simply try stroking any dog and that will just lead to trouble.

  6. I had a dog and she really was the softest dog ever, but if something like the scenario above had happened I wouldn’t have tried to force a strangers kids to touch her. Apart from the fact its inappropriate, what’s the point? Why would a dog owner try to force someone to pet their dog – who exactly gains from the situation?
    Anyway, I was a responsible dog owner so she would have been on a lead! #effitfriday

    1. You’ve got to grips with my objection completely. We are teaching the kids how ot behave around dogs but, for good reason, we don’t want them approaching strange animals. Yes, unfortunately the eldest is scared of them. Insisting your strange animal is safe to approach is not helpful. Helen will get over her gfear eventually, of this I am confident, but making her approach strange animals….not on in my opinion.

  7. You raise mAny valid points. I am not (shock horror) a massive dog lover. To be honest it’s the smell.

    To be honest I like when owners tell me their strange dog is friendly, it alleviates my fear but honestly? I’d rather not be approached in the first place. And I think with the volatile nature of kids and dogs in kid populated areas that dogs should be on a lead.

    Thanks for linking up with #effitfriday

    1. Thanks for co-hosting. I’m also part of the “just don’t approach me” camp. I simply don’t understand the offence people take when I explain my kids don’t like strange animals. It was because people let their dogs off the leash they got scared in the first place!

  8. I hate dog owners (not dogs) more and more as I age, the amount that just let their dogs do as they please and damn everyone else is simply shocking, and then the lack of apologies when the dogs bark, jump run at you etc. Arrrggghhhh!

    1. I will refrain from saying too much, but I have considerable sympathy with your arguments Ashley!

  9. Love From Clueless Mum

    I have a very large over friendly dog. He loves children. But he doesn’t understand that not everyone will like him, so I always make sure I put him on the lead around children who don’t know him and make sure he stays close to me. I often find myself surprised by the stupidity of parents and other dog owners who let their children and dogs run over to dogs on leads before asking whether they are friendly. I’ve had similar encounters asking dog owners to call their dog away from mine to be told that it’s ok because their dog is harmless. If I had the same response when a dog was approaching my child I would be furious. And even though my daughter will grow up around friendly dogs, I will be teaching her not to approach strange dogs (or run away screaming!). Everyone has the right to enjoy spaces like parks whether they like dogs or not, and it’s a shame that some dog owners let their pets go wherever they want with no respect for others. #effitfriday

    1. You’re quite right, parents can be just as irresponsible as some dog owners. Even so, I just don’t get the indignation some dogm owners express when told a young child is scared of an animal. It makes no sense. Thanks for commenting.

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