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Living in a high-rise apartment building in a city, I bring my dog out on public walks and to the dog park out of necessity -- there's just no other way to properly exercise my dog. Georgie is only about one year old and an extremely cute little 25-pound terrier. I know, I know, everyone thinks their dog is really cute, but seriously, he's got one floppy ear, big liquid brown almond-shaped eyes and a curlicue little tail -- he's pretty cute, and it draws a lot of people to him. The problem is, Georgie came to us a nervous wreck because of mistreatment in his past. We don't know exactly what happened to him, he'd been in a shelter at 7 months and then taken by a rescue group, but we do know that he gets very fear-aggressive with people, especially when approached on-leash and indoors. So we're working with a trainer who does positive-reinforcement training to get him less anxious and aggressive, and so far it's been working well. It involves carrying around a big ol' fanny pack full of a lot of treats (the treat amount and administration is a common point of contention between my bf and I) and a clicker, but we've seen vast improvements over the past few months, and we do try to get healthy treats, give him a lot of exercise, and make sure he's getting a balanced diet.

And so the story would end, except that people just don't believe Georgie is a nervous, fear-aggressive dog, and feel totally free to saunter up to me -- perfect strangers! -- and tell me I don't understand my own dog, I'm training him wrong, I'm going to get him fat, I'm causing his aggression, and other sanctimonious doggy poo, OR they feel perfectly fine ignoring me completely and sticking their hands in Georgie's face without asking. Because he's a small dog, a puppy, and tends to stare at people (WARNING - a dog staring at you does NOT automatically mean he wants to meet you, it might mean the exact opposite!), people just feel free to manhandle him despite all my protestations and gentle warnings. And I'm sick of it! Dogs are NOT stuffed animals, they're not toys, they have teeth and can be aggressive, even the little ones, even the puppies! If people want to ignore me and mess with my dog, they are free to help pay for our $1000 dog training. No? Yeah, I didn't think so.

The following incidents have happened as I've walked Georgie in our apartment building and on the street:

- Georgie starts staring at a young woman who is walking on the same block as us. At this point, I know that staring usually means he's scared and will turn aggressive. I move Georgie along and do my click-treating and distractions and we eventually come to an intersection and stop. The young woman comes up behind us and says, "I think he wants to say hi!" and squats down and sticks out her hand. Georgie goes ballistic barking at her. The young woman, mortified, moves on. I am still frozen with shock that this, albeit well-meaning, pushy young woman finds it totally okay to approach my dog without even so much as a "hi, cute dog, can I pet him?", and now am left to manage my reacting dog.

- A man approaches Georgie and I warn him not to stick his hand in his face, as Georgie may bite. The man says in an annoyed voice, "He's not going to bite me!" and does it anyway. Georgie doesn't bite him, thank god, but wtf??? I'm the owner of this dog, respect my wishes so you don't put yourself at risk and trigger a reaction in my dog!

- Georgie keeps staring at a man walking along the same hallway as we are in my apartment building. I do my click-treating and keep Georgie moving so that he doesn't end up barking (which is the usual escalation from the stares). We get to the elevator bank and the man follows. The man asks about my clicker training, and I say it's to distract Georgie when he gets anxious. The man then asks, "Isn't all that treating going to make him fat?" I say that is a valid concern, but the treating is helping Georgie not become crazy around people. He says, "I don't see him being crazy!" (This while I'm shoving a tube full of soft dog food in Georgie's mouth, because if I don't the sights and sounds of a man facing him and talking in his direction will make him bark and lunge aggressively). Sir, you've known this dog for, at most, 60 seconds of observation. Let me give you Georgie for a week and have you manage his aggression towards children, men in groups, people coming out of the elevator, people in hallways, people coming outside onto the street in front of him, people on bikes, motorcycles, scooters, and skateboards, and then you can tell me about my dog. MMMKAYYYY??!!??

- I'm on the street trying to train Georgie in loose-leash walking. Georgie is determined to eat a piece of garbage in the gutter and I am trying to get him to walk away from it. Out of nowhere a man comes right up and pats my dog on the top of the head, saying, "Oh it's not your fault, little doggie!" and as I'm saying, "Don't--!!!" Georgie barks at him. Man strolls away without a word of apology. Thanks a lot, *#($)*#($)#. Can I bill you for my dog's training, now that you'd proven that he needs to bark aggressively to get people to back off? Thanks.

- A woman walking her dog comes up to Georgie and me on the street. Georgie is friendly with other dogs, so I let them meet. I nicely warn the woman that Georgie is nervous around people so she shouldn't approach. She says, "Oh but he came up to me! He must smell my dog on me, so isn't afraid!" OK, debatable, but whatever, maybe she's right. Then she says, "Oh your dog has something in his mouth!" and REACHES FOR MY DOG'S MOUTH. Georgie snarls and she backs off. Perfectly well-intentioned lady, but are you serious?!?!?! You just reached into the mouth of a random dog on the street?! How about I never talk to you ever again.

Long rant, sorry. I just needed to get it off my chest!

tl;dr -- please don't assume that just because a dog is small and a puppy, that the dog is friendly and his/her owner doesn't know what they're talking about. Give the dog and owner a break and just respect the boundaries of both person and canine, it's the right thing to do!
 

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I have a smallish cute fluffy dog that hates being touched by strangers too so I feel your pain :/. Then ppl are like "what's wrong with her?" When I say she doesn't want to be petted. Huh? I ask them if they like being touched inappropriately by a stranger ... No? Then why in the heck would you think a dog would ???
 

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Oh I feel you. Except for not behavior problems, just when I take my service dogs in training out and all people see is PLEASE PET ME AND MAKE ME JUMP ON YOU AND THEN CHASTISE ME FOR BEING A CRAP OWNER WHEN I TELL THEM HE CANT DO THAT.

yes, yes. I dont completely understand, but.. I understand.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Ugh, I feel so bad for people training service dogs! These dogs are getting super-expensive, specific training to help save lives and that somehow inspires people to just stroll right up, ignoring big ol' signs saying, DOG IN TRAINING, DO NOT PET?? Seriously, we need to start billing people for what they cost us in training. We just can get Square for our phones and swipe their credit cards.

(edit) Oh, and ... good for you for training service dogs, Rescued :) I have a friend whose pre-school-aged daughter was just diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes and they're thinking about getting a Diabetic Alert Dog, because the poor child's blood sugar is all over the map every day. I did a little research and am so amazed by what these dogs can do. RESPECT.
 

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I feel for you. My Leo is very nervous with people and it baffles me how many people will approach a dog even when you tell them DONT TOUCH MY DOG he might bite! and they "oh he wont bite he is friendly! " Leo has worked past it into straight ignoring people and does great, acts like they are not even there even if they defy my wishes and touch him he just turns his back. but it took awhile to get to this point with him. I used his fav toy to divert his attention when he was nervous or sat him down and focused his attentions.
People annoy me >.< I agree with your rant! The other day Leo and I walked by a huge loud TRAIN ! and he was so good and calm . before he would have gone so bonkers I wouldnt have been able to control him.
 

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Sometimes you have to go bats*** on some people.
Stupid gets what it deserves. Fight fire with fire.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the encouragement everyone! It just helps so much to talk to people who understand the situation and the frustration. The guy in the elevator bank incident just happened today and I just snapped -- I wanted to throw open my windows and let out a primal scream!

I am working on my "back the eff off" authoritative voice, it's really been a learning process for me as to exactly how ridiculous people are around dogs. Even fellow dog owners! That dog owner lady who reached into Georgie's mouth really astonished me. I mean, that is just remarkably stupid.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think also I just need to get used to the idea of body language -- holding up a hand to say "STOP", body-blocking people who really insist on getting in Georgie's face, making eye contact and shaking my head. I think it's just that instinctively I don't want to get CLOSER to the offending person, because then Georgie's leash will be that much more slack and they'll be able to reach him more easily. But honestly, these people usually are coming in like a guided missile anyway, I don't think my getting in close will matter too much :p
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I have a smallish cute fluffy dog that hates being touched by strangers too so I feel your pain :/. Then ppl are like "what's wrong with her?" When I say she doesn't want to be petted. Huh? I ask them if they like being touched inappropriately by a stranger ... No? Then why in the heck would you think a dog would ???
Exactly! Where do people get the idea that dogs are all fluffy little toys? They don't like being groped, any more than people do!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Get a do not pet leash tag and use that or make your own. I have one for my dog. Here's the link to it, the lady is on vacation so you'll have to wait till she returns if you decide to get one

https://www.etsy.com/listing/165705880/one-1-careful-im-blind-leash-sleeve-snap?ref=listing-shop-header-4
Ooh thanks for the suggestion! I do have a giant CAUTION leash that I used to use, but the thing is ... you can't really walk up to a dog park with that because then people think your dog is dog-aggressive :p The do-not-pet leash and vest look much more direct and might work better for us. Thanks!
 

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Ooh thanks for the suggestion! I do have a giant CAUTION leash that I used to use, but the thing is ... you can't really walk up to a dog park with that because then people think your dog is dog-aggressive :p The do-not-pet leash and vest look much more direct and might work better for us. Thanks!
You're welcome. Don't be afraid to tell people to back off. I haven't gotten to that point and people here are pretty good about asking before approaching and petting, but I always have to say no.
 

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People have done that to me, Eko is male dog aggressive and sometimes female dog aggressive, but he doesn't make a sound. He pulls toward the dog very stiffly, with a wagging tail so people think he is being social and let their dogs get close and I have to tell them "No! He will bite!" But the say he looks friendly and get offended when I drag him away. I don't even take him out in public anymore because of it, but since our vet office is inside of a petsmart we still have incidents there. It's gotten so bad I have to muzzle him, that seems to have gotten the point across. It just makes me sad I had to resort to that to make people realize I am serious.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
People have done that to me, Eko is male dog aggressive and sometimes female dog aggressive, but he doesn't make a sound. He pulls toward the dog very stiffly, with a wagging tail so people think he is being social and let their dogs get close and I have to tell them "No! He will bite!" But the say he looks friendly and get offended when I drag him away. I don't even take him out in public anymore because of it, but since our vet office is inside of a petsmart we still have incidents there. It's gotten so bad I have to muzzle him, that seems to have gotten the point across. It just makes me sad I had to resort to that to make people realize I am serious.
Oh man, I am so glad that Georgie is not dog-aggressive, because that would be a whole OTHER world of difficulty. I feel for you, truly ... we haven't had to muzzle Georgie in public, but at the vet it's necessary and it makes me so sad. I could muzzle Georgie out in public to get people to back off, but again it wouldn't be good to bring him to the dog park that way :p

And who are these people who say your dog "looks friendly"??? Umm, I would trust the dog owner really, who wants their dog to get attacked just because they thought the other dog "looks friendly" despite the protests of the person who OWNS the dog? Here in Manhattan it's easy to see which dogs are aggressive, the streets are so crowded and there's really no crossing the street on a whim, so owners pull the dog aside and whisper "leave it, leave it," or body block the dog, or hold their collars tight. And you know what? I'm going to trust the owners because they know their dogs best. Anybody who thinks they "know better" than the owner is deluding themselves. All you're trying to do is protect other dogs, despite their owners' best efforts to get them attacked!

I think some people think they're Dr. Dolittle and have a "way with dogs" and won't take no for an answer. It's obnoxious. At the dog park there was this lady who tried to approach Georgie when my back was turned, despite all my warnings about how he didn't like being approached, then totally pretended she wasn't doing it when I asked her.
 

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Oh man, I am so glad that Georgie is not dog-aggressive, because that would be a whole OTHER world of difficulty. I feel for you, truly ... we haven't had to muzzle Georgie in public, but at the vet it's necessary and it makes me so sad. I could muzzle Georgie out in public to get people to back off, but again it wouldn't be good to bring him to the dog park that way :p

And who are these people who say your dog "looks friendly"??? Umm, I would trust the dog owner really, who wants their dog to get attacked just because they thought the other dog "looks friendly" despite the protests of the person who OWNS the dog? Here in Manhattan it's easy to see which dogs are aggressive, the streets are so crowded and there's really no crossing the street on a whim, so owners pull the dog aside and whisper "leave it, leave it," or body block the dog, or hold their collars tight. And you know what? I'm going to trust the owners because they know their dogs best. Anybody who thinks they "know better" than the owner is deluding themselves. All you're trying to do is protect other dogs, despite their owners' best efforts to get them attacked!

I think some people think they're Dr. Dolittle and have a "way with dogs" and won't take no for an answer. It's obnoxious. At the dog park there was this lady who tried to approach Georgie when my back was turned, despite all my warnings about how he didn't like being approached, then totally pretended she wasn't doing it when I asked her.
It's because his tail is wagging and he doesn't growl or bark until he is within biting distance, I think. But that means nothing, he will absolutely attack as soon as he can reach the other dog. No actual bites yet, but VERY close calls where he lunges and snaps and it takes all my strength to pull him back. He has also tried to bite with the muzzle on but thankfully it has kept him from doing any real damage.

I don't understand it either, if someone walking a nearly 100 lb GSD or any dog told me not to pet him or let their dog come up to him to sniff, I sure as h*ll would listen. I've been bitten by a dog before, it's no picnic and I will go out of my way to avoid it. People are just ignorant. I had a woman stick her weenie dog in my pit mix's face, it growled at her and lucky for the dog Xena is not DA at all, if she was, that dog would be dead, and Xena would have been blamed.
 

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I've resorted to I SAID DON'T TOUCH HIM.
This :p

Stella is so much better then when I first ogt her, but if any man talks loud, walks to close or god forbid stops to talk to me while I'm walking her she hides behind me and pee's herself :(
So, While i'm generally not a rude person, if i say not to come near me and my dog. I'm going to make it very clear to anyone that doesn't listen the first time.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I feel for you. My Leo is very nervous with people and it baffles me how many people will approach a dog even when you tell them DONT TOUCH MY DOG he might bite! and they "oh he wont bite he is friendly! " Leo has worked past it into straight ignoring people and does great, acts like they are not even there even if they defy my wishes and touch him he just turns his back. but it took awhile to get to this point with him. I used his fav toy to divert his attention when he was nervous or sat him down and focused his attentions.
People annoy me >.< I agree with your rant! The other day Leo and I walked by a huge loud TRAIN ! and he was so good and calm . before he would have gone so bonkers I wouldnt have been able to control him.
I would LOVE for Georgie to just walk away or turn his back. So far if I keep him moving and do my "let's go" command he's often able to get over the shock of being suddenly approached and walk with me away from the person, but I have to be really quick on my feet and sometimes there's nowhere for us to escape :p Honestly I'd prefer to manage his reactions rather than unload on people, because my yelling at people might trigger an aggressive reaction in him -- he's very sensitive to raised voices. Also it's just less emotionally draining. I can't control every person, so being able to control myself and my dog feels more empowering. Because for every kind person who understands, there will always be another random person who doesn't, and is annoying and in my face about it.

So glad to hear that your Leo has improved -- and what a big beautiful guy! I love huskies, their blue eyes are just stunning.
 

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People suck, generally speaking.

I was visiting a friend during the summer and another friend came by and brought her dog. This dog happens to be fearful of men, and was barking at my friend's bf as soon as the dog came in the door. She was also wearing a gentle leader which our friend said she was still getting used to.

Shortly after that we were getting ready to go out, and the bf decides to grab the dog and put her gentle leader on himself (didn't ask the dog's owner or anything). I froze and nearly had a heart attack when I saw him doing it.

Sigh.

We have dogs at the shelter that volunteers aren't allowed to handle for various reasons. (no temperament test yet, injury, not used to being on leash, very fearful, etc etc) I don't flipping take it upon myself to handle them because I think I know better. Even if I DO think the dog would be fine, I don't act on it for the sake of the dog. If they injured me because I did something stupid the dog would be the one paying the price, it's not worth it.

I've heard there's a volunteer who will regularly handle dogs we're not supposed to, even with signs posted. Sigh.
 
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