German Shepherds Forum banner

"Does your dog bite? Can I pet your dog?"

2967 Views 23 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  RubyTuesday
I often take Tessa out to ball games, parks, ect and get the question asked. "Does your dog bite? Can I pet your dog?"

My question is, "What is the appropriate way to introduce a dog to a stranger?" Tessa is great with all people she meets. I just want to make sure she is being socialized properly for when she becomes a grown up. Usually when people ask to pet her I just say ok, and the petting begins.

Tessa and nephew Carter.
See less See more
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
I made a tough decision awhile back and decided the answer is always no. I even talked with the neighborhood kids and asked them not to come over anymore to pet the dogs. Call me paranoid but I just can't take any chances with my dogs. They are my life and if it means no contact with strangers than so be it. I have friends come over which they enjoy but my dogs are mine and I won't chance their future just so someone can pet the dog. I know I've had to cut back on thier socalization but thats a decison I can live with.
I hate getting the question, "Does your dog bite", because any dog can bite if the situation is right.

I get "Can I pet your dog" a lot. I usually just say "yes" and let people come up and pet her, because anything else seems to be just a moot point with most people. If I'm very motivated, I will explain how to meet a dog before petting first ("hold out your hand first so she can sniff you") and tell people how to pet properly ("don't reach over her head. Most dogs don't like that. It's best to pet on the neck or side.")

If I can tell Abby is getting fed up with all the attention, I usually tell people, "I'm sorry, right now isn't a good time. She's been getting petted by a lot of people and would like to take a little break."
Tessa is a very beautiful beautifull GSD!

We are in the same boat as you. Bogart just turned 5 months. He loves all people, loves to give kiss's. I just tell them to pet him from the front not the back because it could spook him, and let the dog make the first move.. You want your dog to be comfortable.

I am sure you will get all kinds of opinions on this site.

Bogarts Dad
See less See more
Nope. Rocky's terrified of children and Cash still has a little mouthing issue, so no petting for them!
I really haven't been in that situation
if its one kid I just tell him/her don't run up to him and no fast movements.
I agree with Bogarts dad
It makes me nervouse when a child w/o a parent approaches and asks. I ususally respond that they would need to have their mom or dad's permission before. An adult, I generally say yes.
Nobody will believe this, but-- I have always had a strong phobia of children. (I am nearly blind and was mainstreamed.. the sound of kids feet running, kids voices getting loud, always meant I would be trampled, bumped hard, shoved onto the ground, all by accident, but..) As an adult, kids still think I can see them. To me, kids have been 45lb vertical missiles with heads like concrete.

All the kids in my last neighborhood in USA wanted to come running up to pet Grimm. They all did-- feet slapping HARD on pavement, screeeeching in delight "Kin I pet 'im? Kin I pet 'im?!!" After a zillion times, I learned kids are not so bad. Talk about the dog socializing the owner LOL!!
When I get that question from adults, my response is usually "Not yet" and sometimes add "all dogs are capable of biting." and go from there. If people take it as snippy so be it, move on. With children I will usually say thank you for asking-you should always ask before approaching someone's pet. And allow the interaction between the kids and Kayla, usually with a little instruction and encouragement for them to use sit or down commands before petting.

At the off leash parks and shows, we don't hear the "does she bite question" as most folks are more dog savvy. Still get the petting one and tend to allow while watching Kayla's reation with the people as they approach or move to pet. I won't hesitate to stop the interaction or pull her back if I sense any unease on her part-which fortunately hasn't happen yet.
wow, i've had a comment to almost all of the replies you've gotten so far. first off it seems like your question is more of how to go about letting people meet your dog, rather than if you should or shouldnt right?

i think what you're doing is okay, just adding on that you should always let the dog approach the person. if its a situation that makes you cautious or nervous, then play it safe and say no because dogs can sense our tension.

i wanted to ask shiloh's mom if maybe she takes that stand because her dogs are rescues? (i'm not sure if they are or arent). both of mine are and i feel as comfortable with them as i have with dogs that i raised from puppyhood... just thought i'd ask.

that said, 9 times out of 10 i allow my dogs to be petted. the only times i dont is if i have both out at the same time and its hard for me to control them* OR if gia is way too excited and going bonkers. she adores kids (kids = toys) but will easily step on a foot or give the kid a nose to the eye or something, so i'm a little more cautious.

i always thank people for asking (because i appreciate it and also to validate them) and i always let my dog approach them by saying "is that your friend" or "go say hi". if i dont say one or the other, i expect them to remain at my side.

*quick story of how brainless some folks are - i was walking up to my house with both dogs on leash in one hand, groceries in another hand, and balancing my cell phone on my shoulder (no, i'm no the brainless one that i speak of, lol) and a woman came up to me with two kids about 2 and 5 asking if they could pet the dogs. i was so surprised that she asked i couldnt help but be a touch rude and asked "are you kidding right now?". she seemed a little embarassed and just sort of walked away saying "ya i thought maybe it wasnt a good time". i'm still shocked and would like an answer!!!!!
See less See more
Tessa is just a lovely puppy, she has such a beautiful dark face.

My dog Morgan lives with 3 preschoolers so she's a Kid Expert. When we're out at the park or the playground, she's also a Kid Magnet. Sometimes my oldest son (nearly 5) educates other kids about how to approach a dog. If he doesn't start talking about it, I do.

I always keep my dog on a very short leash when meeting new people.

I DO NOT let anyone touch Morgan before she's sniffed their hand.

If a child tries to touch her without asking first, I always pull her away and educate the child that my dog won't bite her but some other dog might.

I DO NOT let a crowd of kids swarm all over her, no more than 2 at a time.

If a kid just touches her head without asking, I've been known to reach out, rub the child's head and ask how much they liked it. LOL, that gets quite a reaction.

Yes I get Does Your Dog Bite? I always say, all dogs bite.
See less See more
When I get that question I have to watch sarge, his body language will dictate who gets to pet. Women and kids are no problem, men on the other hand are iffy at best. Before any petting I tell sarge as I scratch his ear, its ok buddy in a calm voice and he loves the attention. He knows by me saying that and giving him a little scratch that pets are comming so he doesnt get afraid.
I get "Can I pet him" everywhere we go and we socialize Chevy a lot-walks, parks, car shows, pet stores, etc. He is very good with interacting with people and children and I do tell them that yes, they can pet him and majority of the time, they hold their hand out for Chevy to sniff them first. If they don't, I let them know that he likes to sniff everyones hand first before petting. If a small child without a parent asks though, I will usually respond with a smile and "No, not right now" and continue walking.
See less See more
Shilo has never been agressive towards a stranger but she really does not like them and would perfer that they just stay away from her. If someone approachs us, she just sits the and watches them but honestly does not like to be touched by anyone outside her "pack". So our answer is no.
Hi Camerafodder,
Actually my dogs aren't rescues and I know where they've been every day of their lifes. The kids use to come by to pet the dogs and for the longest time I thought this was good for them. One day Shiloh, my oldest, was a wee bit too pushy with the kids-the kids didn't realize this but I did. That night I decided to no longer allow strangers to pet my dogs. I just can't take any chances. My dogs are all I've got and if there is a risk in something happening I just can't take it. I realize this decision is good for me but it might not be the right decision for everyone. I should note that they are exposed to the kids all the time. We play in the front yard everynight and usually theres kids playing in the street.
In friendship,
is 'yes, she does. please, go ahead and pet her' the wrong answer?

luc can be pet by anyone....WHOO! they love him!!!!!!!!

teagan, i have to be more careful with, though we've worked on it and she knows that showing aggression (baring her teeth, i never let it get further) towards somebody petting her is a big no-no.

that said, i don't encourage strangers to pet them. often, i try to incorporate socialization into it - the woman who went past in her electric wheelchair - yes, they'd never seen that before - cop in patrol car with flashing lights - yes.
See less See more
I get those questions a lot. A few months ago, a woman just came out of the blue while I was talking to someone at a bus stop and started petting Inga as if she knew her. Inga growled and the woman went off. She said, "You shouldn't walk a mean dog like that without a muzzle." We went back and forth for a while and the lady scurried off but I learned my lesson.

I usually say, "of course my dog bites" and "no, she is undergoing training right now and it's better not to pet her while she is on training time".

My dog is pretty aloof towards strangers and does not like to be pet for no reason. Much less children yelling and standing right in her face. I just don't take the chance with strangers. If we know the kids, I have certain rules for them to follow, like no yelling, no pulling on ears or tail, no trying to kiss her nose.
There is no one correct answer to your question. It depends on the dog. For my two, they have no fear issues whatsoever and are not in the least bit "sharp" so I have no issues with people petting my dogs provided they ask. Also, the more kids the better. I want them to be surrounded by 12 kids petting them at once if possible (has happened to both dogs before). If I get the "do they bite?" question my answer is always "only when they are supposed to!". The only thing I watch for is children under 5 with Diesel. I have almost broken him of gooming. He was a grooming machine when I first got him, and he is exciteable as all get out. People that did not understand dog behavior got really freaked out about it and would amp him up even more. He's 99% done with that with adults, but young children make such erratic movements that he gets worked up. We're working on it.
inspector clousseau: (sees dog laying on floor of hotel lobby) "does your dog bite?"

hotel clerk: "no."

clousseau: (bends down to pet dog, says "nice dog" and dog proceeds to bite him) says "i thought you said your dog did not bite."

hotel clerk: "that is not my dog."
I have taken Apollo everywhere with us since we got him. I socialize, socialize, socialize like crazy! Kids always flock to him, and they always ask to pet him, I of course keep a close eye on him. I will continue to socialize him and keep him close to me. But he is a favorite at our park!
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.