What do you tell people? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 133 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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What do you tell people?

When you have an aggressive/fearful dog, or one that you don't want pet/doesn't want or like to be pet and people are interested in interacting?

Reading a few threads recently I realized that there are a lot more nippy/aggressive/fearful dogs owned here than I thought with great owners managing them.

So when you're out in public with your dog that you don't want pet for whatever reason, what do you tell people? Do you not care and just sound rude? Do you try to explain it? Lie?

As most of you know, Frag has had weird aggression issues in the past, none involving lunging/snapping/biting, and only growling, but still not something I would ever let get to the point, so when we're out in public I do not let strangers pet him. I'm finding it more difficult to convey my reasoning to them, and it's getting on my last nerve. If I don't reason, they don't listen. I don't want to come off as a complete witch before they do anything wrong, but they will do something wrong if I don't have a great reason and I don't want that happening. Just don't want to put Frag in the situation, even if he appears absolutely fantastic with strange people now.

Usually conversations in public go something like this...

Them: "Oh, pretty dog, what's his name?"
Me: "Frag" (apparently this is permission for them to pet my dog..)
Them: *reaches to pet*
Me: Please don't pet my dog. *body blocking/moving*
Them: "Why not?"

Then I either say he doesn't like to be pet and they freak out saying he's aggressive (which I don't want people to think), or I'll say that he has allergies and can't be pet and they condescendingly question it while I want to punch them in their face.

I don't put myself in the position to be approached by many, usually I walk away when I see their interest, but when I do it's so annoying and frustrating. I'd prefer not to be a witch about it, but it's hard to find the right way not to.

So what's everyone else's line?

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post #2 of 133 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 11:47 PM
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When in public I tend to be over protective of my dog and keep my distance and try to put myself between her and people. If someone says oh how cute what's her name, I tell them jasmine and keep myself between them or I have her on a short Leash. If they try to pet or get too close and she barks I just tell them she's afraid and not to get close or look her in the eye. Which she is, isn't by a lie, as she is a fear barker. Then I tend to walk away. It might come off as rude but I don't take any chances.
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post #3 of 133 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 11:49 PM
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Our last GSD was as you describe. It was a very worrisome situation to be in. We found ourselves saying "Thanks for not petting her, she is hand shy". It sounded a little "nicer" IMO

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post #4 of 133 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 11:58 PM
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Aiden isn't HA or DA but I am still not comfortable with people or strange animals hovering over my dog. He clearly doesn't enjoy it, so I just avoid it when I feel needed.

If I see another dog in an aisle at a store, we will maintain a very lengthy distance and wait. Aiden doesn't even acknowledge the existence of any other humans, so people don't usually feel the need to pet him because he's not excited to see them. In the event that someone asks to pet, I usually tell people he is not to be distracted because he is training. Usually they can just respect that and walk away without thinking I'm rude. When that doesn't work, I tend to just completely ignore and walk away. If someone in a pet store just walks behind me and pets him or something, it usually ends with loudly yelling, "Well thank you for asking!" This doesn't typically happen because when in stores, I walk him on a 3 ft traffic lead and he stays very close to me.

Out on walks, we will make wide maneuvers around other walkers/dog owners to avoid confrontation. And those who ask about him or ask if the dog can "say hi" to his dog, they get the same "training" explanation as said before.

We do not go to dog parks so we can avoid other irresponsible people, accompanied by their off leash, untrained dogs.

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post #5 of 133 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 11:58 PM
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This has always been a hard situation for me as well because I have two very friendly, trustworthy dogs that are very "socially savvy" with both humans and other animals (i.e not overbearing or rude but polite and sweet). When I adopted my third dog, Scarlett, at about 4 months old I knew right off the bat she had some weird snarky issues. The first day I had her she tried to take a chunk out of my training friends chin after cuddling on her lap and being sweet. Not a "puppy lunge" either. That was four years ago and since then my social life has changed drastically with my dogs, because of her initially and then with our GSD. I'm lucky in that she's extremely responsive and tuned in to me like a typical Cattle Dog so she easier to manage than our GSD (who also isn't a fan of strangers) but none the less I've made some people pretty upset.

I've tried using excuses and trying to get them to love on my friendly dogs but Scarlett is gorgeous and I swear she never lost her luscious puppy coat so they gravitate towards her first I've finally just accepted that I have to tell people "I'm sorry but she's not friendly." Luckily my other two dogs buffer the sting a bit and they usually just move on. But after having a few close calls with people who swear that all dogs just adore them as they try to smother Scarlett, I've accepted that I have an unfriendly dog. People can deal with their disappointment with their faces intact....
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post #6 of 133 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 11:59 PM
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Riley is iffy with some people but mostly with other dogs. If someone wants to let their dog meet him, I am very blunt about it. He flat out does not like other dogs. He tolerates dogs that are in our house or wherever we take him that would have other dogs but its because he knows he has to behave. He's fine with dogs he knows but still known to get testy. Same case with strangers outside the house. He's perfect with kids but not so thrilled with adults. Just be very blunt about it. He doesnt get buddy buddy with those he doesnt know and they're not welcome to touch him without your permission. All else fails, say he's in training and socializing would detract from the training so thanks but no thanks and move on.

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post #7 of 133 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 12:13 AM
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I have a 3.5 month old that is very friendly but I don't like strangers touching her either. I got her a harness with patches that says DO NOT PET. That way if I come off as rude the warning was right there in plain sight. If they don't like that then tuff!
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post #8 of 133 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 12:24 AM
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Dax doesn't have any problem with people outside of the house or on walks, but with *some* people who try to be in his face in our home he might growl or bark. I am very blunt with them and say "Please ignore him until he calms down" (as if it were his fault that they are bent over him at 90 degrees, grabbing his face with both hands and squeezing, and looking directly into his eyes).

I think the most important part of what you do is the body block! Whatever you say, many people are rude and will not listen. I have also heard suggestions that you should toss something to them (a dog toy or treat) before they get close. If it is part of the training you are doing you can have them toss the treat to your dog. This would probably backfire if you want them to ignore your dog. I would probably just body block, politely excuse myself, and then do a u-turn if you want to avoid any interaction.
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post #9 of 133 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 12:26 AM
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Sasha is not typically aggressive (anymore) but she doesn't like people she doesn't know to touch her. She's not aggressive about it; she just tries to move away as it makes her uncomfortable. She'd rather be able to smell them, then watch them, then smell them again, then maybe some more watching and then maybe let them pet her. So I just tell people, "Don't pet her. She's not mean, but she doesn't care for strangers." If they don't listen *cough* People who claim all animals love them *cough* I make sure they don't pet her. I really don't care what people think of me when I do this; that's my girl and I won't have her be uncomfortable unnecessarily.

~Sasha~{GSD}~ 3ish~Gotcha day January, 29, 2011
~Monte~{Golden Retriever}~ (RIP)~ 1997-2009

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post #10 of 133 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 12:28 AM
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Originally Posted by DJEtzel View Post
Them: "Oh, pretty dog, what's his name?"
Me: "Frag" (apparently this is permission for them to pet my dog..)
Them: *reaches to pet*
I hate this. It's dangerous and I don't appreciate the idea of being held responsible for someone else's ignorance should something bad come from it.

~Sasha~{GSD}~ 3ish~Gotcha day January, 29, 2011
~Monte~{Golden Retriever}~ (RIP)~ 1997-2009

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