Chix-A-Lot Friday: Dog preferences and Public Service Announcements

As some of you who follow our Facebooks may have seen yesterday, Doodlebug had a scary little incident on his morning walk with dad. They were walking along, minding their own business, when suddenly a fluffydog came barreling across the street directly at them, barking and carrying on, causing a big threatening stink.

Now, some of you know that Doodlebug is a recovering reactive dog (so am I). Around dogs he doesn’t know, he can be nervous and uncertain how to act. So for Dad and the ‘Bug, this incident was NOT welcome! But in the moment, their instincts kicked in — they took one look at each other and started running away, top speed. They BOTH wanted to get outta there! After a minute, the dog stopped chasing and Dad and the ‘Bug gave each other a high-five for making such good choices.

Us dogs run into these kinds of situations all the time — where we are confronted with something we are not too comfortable with, and asked to be polite. Sometimes you humans are able to get us out of the situation — like dad did with the ‘Bug yesterday morning — but sometimes us dogs have to try to just tolerate.

And sometimes, it’s you humans who put us in the uncomfortable situation to begin with!

Our pal Jess over at Dogs In Need of Space has put together some tremendous PSAs about dog etiquette, understanding dogs who need space, and all kinds of other wonders. Thanks to her — and many other advocates, trainers, writers, and dog lovers — the message is starting to get out: ALL dogs have preferences. ALL dogs are picky about something — often something that the average bystander wouldn’t realize.

So here’s us spilling the beans. We, too, need space. We’d love for you to spill the beans too — what would YOUR dog’s personal PSA say?

PSA dear doodlebug PSA sir chick

36 responses

  1. I know exactly how that feels. We’ve had that happen a few times and I just turn Fozzy around and head the other way. One time we had 4 at once come after him and it wasn’t pretty we didn’t get a chance to get away and he fought with one of the dogs good thing the owner finally showed up and took his dogs home but it made me very nervous for a while when walking him but now he knows when he sees another dog coming he crosses the street or turns the other way. It’s very scary when that happens though since Foz is dog reactive. Congrats to Dad and the Bug for getting out of that situation.

  2. Sir Chick, thanks for posting this very informative information, and I’m really glad your dad and brother got out of that scary situation safely yesterday! I have a question that might sound very silly to you that I don’t already know the answer to (or maybe I do and just don’t realize it), but what is it about direct eye contact that makes some dogs very nervous? Does it feel threatening? I have 2 very small dogs (chihuahuas) who don’t like unfamiliar people approaching them quickly and when we have guests over I have to remind them to let the dogs come to them at their own pace. Some people are better at honoring this request than others.

    • Hi Laurie, Simply put, direct eye contact is rude in the dog world. Many dogs tolerate it and even learn to interpret that eye contact from humans is a friendly thing, but in general, it is seen as a challenge — which can be pretty scary!

  3. Boy oh boy, what would Ray’s PSA say? Hmmm. Regarding humans, his would say, that he would rather initiate the greeting after checking you out for a bit and regarding other dogs, it might say “if you approach me, I will take that as in invitation to play…and by play I mean i will jump on your head.” 😉

  4. We heard about your scary experience ‘Bug! What a naughty dog (and owner) that was! That same thing has happened out our momma, with one of our foster brothers, who is a love-a-bull dog like you. Momma was so scared our foster brother would get blamed for the trouble that two dogs started when they ran out and across two streets to chase them down at the park. Where we live people still like to blame the love-a-bulls if possible. Maverick handled himself with grace, and he and our momma ran just like bug and your dad did. Momma says that was only a good experience because maverick was so good and listened to her completely and she was SO GLAD that she only had maverick and not all three of us.

  5. Oh boy, Maple had a similar incident when she was about six-months old with a dog. We were loading her up in the car for a trip, and the neighbors dog came barreling out of her house and pounced on Maple. Maple had never been in a fight before, and we still had her on her leash and harness, so both dogs were getting tangled up. We finally pulled them apart and stuck Maple in the car. Neither of the dogs got hurt, but Maple was terrified and has had some leash reactivity ever since, especially toward dogs she isn’t given the opportunity to meet. I think Maple’s (impossible) PSA would be “Please let me meet your dog on a walk. I know it can be hard, but if I don’t get the chance to say hello, I get nervous that your dog is a threat and so I start to get loud to keep myself and my people safe. Going on walks makes me very nervous, but you can help by just letting me say hi and showing me that you are a friend.”

  6. Off leash dogs always make me nervous. Not just for my dog (who is reactive) but also because I’ve been chased and bitten by dogs who escaped their yard. Not fun! I look for the owners and always ask if the dog is friendly when they are approaching.

    Love the DINOS website and your PSAs 😀

    • Once I had an owner tell me his dog was friendly as he ran up to me and my two dogs so, I pulled my reactive dog back and the dog didn’t even stop to sniff just went straight for my Huskies throat. Scariest thing that has ever happened to us.luckily she has lots of fur and we pried the aggressor off quickly enough that she was bruised but not seriously physically hurt.

  7. Very good and informative blog post! Thank you for sharing this. I wish more people would adhere to this. I was bit by a dog once and it was not fun at all. Also, on a side note, I love love love how you have your dogs photographed. I am sure you tweaked the photo to have all white around them. If I send you some pics, is there anyway that you can do this to my photos too? i would love that so much! Let me know!

    • Actually, I shoot these on white background paper. If you don’t want to buy a roll, you can approximate these results with a white sheet, blanket, etc. Best of luck!

      Typed by my trained monkey. Please excuse tybos.

      • yup, I used photoshop, but it would be just as easy — or easier in powerpoint or any number of other applications, probably.

  8. Thanks so much for this post and for the link to DINOS. It is really refreshing to read about people who recognize leashing dogs as a means to ensure their safety and comfort while being walked.

    Over the last several years here in Portland, OR off leash dog walking has become rampant. Even with all of the legitimate off-leash dog parks here and countless doggie daycares for indoor socializing, the majority of dog owners continually walk their dogs off leash in the neighborhoods and in parks. Owners are extremely rude when your remind them of leash laws, ask them to leash their dogs, or don’t act excited and pleased when their dog runs over to “meet” your dog. Many owners hold a leash in their hands while walking their dog off leash as if that is in “compliance” with the law while they “choose” to walk their dogs off leash. My husband and I had to drive increasingly greater distances away from our home, usually to areas with heavy car traffic, to find safe places to walk our dog. I would estimate over 90% of dogs being walked in the streets and parks of my neighborhood are off a leash.

    • There are a few places here where dogs are not technically supposed to be off-leash, but it’s just the common practice. My pup has his adolescent bicker-britches on lately, so I just hang back when I see an off-leash dog and wait for the owner to realize that we’re being patient. They’ll either give us a stink eye, walk by without leashing their dog (but taking control/attention), or leash the dog and say hello as we sniff hellos and move on with our lives. It’s just not worth pointing out the negative – but I make sure to thank the ones who leash up!

  9. Off leash dogs scare me half to death because Boomer and Dottie don’t know a stranger and can get us into trouble trying to make friends with a dog we know nothing about.

    Boomer’s PSA: please don’t touch my feet or go around to my backside, I will growl and that should be enough of a warning for you to back off.

    Dottie’s PSA: please don’t be too loud, loud noises are scary and will send me scurrying under the bed.

  10. Sadie’s PSA would be: I know I’m very sweet and tolerant but please don’t take that for granted. I will usually walk away when I need space but I shouldn’t have to. Please keep your playful pups away when I stop playing. And when you meet me, please don’t bend down to my face – I may jump up to kiss you and accidentally head butt you (which hurts since I’m 100lbs – sorry)! I’m working on that….

  11. Once I was walking my deaf pittie Noelle, who is very dog aggressive with strange dogs (but fine with them after a slow introduction). A neighbor opened their front door and a little tiny fluffball came running straight for us. The neighbor yelled “don’t worry, he’s friendly” and I yelled “my dog ISN’T!” Then since Noelle didn’t hear the fluffball coming, I just picked Noelle up (all sixty pounds) and tried to walk away from the house without her noticing the other dog. The tiny dog began jumping up on my legs, Noelle began growling and barking, and the other dog’s owner was in absolutely no hurry to come out and help. It was very frustrating, and we stopped walking on that street after that incident.

  12. I am not very picky about most things but I do not like having my feets touched. I have gotten used to mama wiping them off when they are muddy but I get a little nervous when anyone else is touching them.

  13. Love this! Thank you for sharing! My pups are all different but our Candy girl has very specific PSA. She is our rescue Pibble and also has some uncertainty in the world around her. And because we have four big dogs, it’s rare that we have less than 2 on leashes – which makes turning and running a challenge at times.

    Candy would tell the humans to please approach her slowly, or any dog that you don’t know for that matter. If I’m out walking on a leash, I’m okay if you approach slowly and not directly at my Mom…. and then let me come up to you please. If you want to run up and hug my Mom, you need to voice your wishes first…. or I think you are trying to get her.

    If you are one of those little dogs they call Chi’s or Tzu’s (or ANY Little dog whose owner thinks its okay to have you off-leash b/c of your tiny size) and are running around outside, please take note that I AM INDEED much bigger and stronger than you, MUCH. I will give you some tolerance the first time you charge at me.. but if you continue to do that charging yappy bark thing, then well i can lose my focus and patience. Mom gets really scared and yells at your people to come get you. I heard her use the term “taco meat” once when she got really scared. This little dog ran at me about 4 times while her people were just hanging in the yard not paying attention. She loves all dogs and even those that are off-leash but I know she gets scared when I am charged at – even though I have never really hurt anyone… 🙂

  14. McFly the 80 pound pibble’s would read…no, it’s not okay to let me jump up on you. My mommy and daddy have worked very hard to make sure I know my puppy manners and you allowing me to do things when I’m excited and then telling them no, it’s okay when I’m corrected…is NOT OKAY! Standing back and waiting patiently for my mommy and daddy to reinforce my manners, is good people manners. Once I’m behaving, they’ll give you plenty of time to love on me…but I know better and your staying out of my discipline (no matter how kind-hearted the intent) is good for me and my future encounters with people. Because some of those people will dislike dogs jumping on them and could be very scared. They need me to be extra mannerish to put them at ease or at least not reinforce to them that there is something to be afraid of, especially given my breed’s stereotype!

  15. Oh…such a great idea and so well written! So many people don’t understand a dog’s need for space and this really does show it in such a positive way. Miss M’s would have to say something about not using baby voices and encouraging her her to become riled up while on leash. These are so great….good work, Aleks!

  16. My Katy’s PSA would read: “I know I’m adorable. I know I look just like the lovable dog on the commercial. I know I am small and don’t look threatening at all. But if you extend your hand toward me I will bite you.” She was a rescued Westie and I tried EVERYTHING possible to correct this behavior. Training, specialists, patience and love. Convincing people she was not approachable was so frustrating. “I know she’s cute, but she will bite your child.” After biting me several times, and eventually breaking my finger, she went to the Rainbow Bridge. I know she’ll be there, happy to see me, and I will give her big hugs and kisses. And she will be happy to have them.

  17. A dog-walking nightmare. We’ve all been there…and the owners always have some excuse.

    Bella: Please don’t sniff my butt, I’m a lady and I want to be courted first. So unless you are interested in a long, getting-to-know you dating arrangement, keep your distance please.

    Jackson: I love everyone, but it you mess with my sister…forgetaboutit.

  18. Pingback: How to Make a Reactive Dog | Growing Up Dog

  19. We recently had a very scary encounter with a dog that raced up behind us and bowled us over. He hit Sam pretty hard and Sam wrenched his back. For a few minutes, I couldn’t get Sam up which left Monty to deal with the dog. I’m still having trouble walking the boys – it really scared me!


  20. I love Jess’s DINOS FB page and keep track of it often.
    I have been having more and more encounters with out of control off leash dogs. My guys are all safe and friendly towards people and dogs that approach them appropriately and can be fairly tolerant to those that don’t. Not only do I wish more owners would be considerate of other dogs and their space, even “safe” dogs, but I wish that they would understand that their dog just wanting to “play” is actually their dog being rude and in my dogs face and my dog is being super patient with your dick of a dog.
    I run my dogs off leash in designated areas, they have dog friends that are dogs that belong to my friends. Dogs that I know how they are trained, treated and what their temperaments are like. Just because my dog and your dog are off leash doesn’t mean they need to interact and you should be able to keep your dog from interacting with mine, before you ask my permission if you can’t put a leash on it.
    I have taken to walking off leash areas with a hiking pole again ( Iost my DINO to old age a while ago and this was a common ” defensive weapon” for walks) and in the past week I have struck 2 off leash dogs that have come charging over posturing and getting in the face of my dogs while the owners made no attempt to call them back. I got some dirty looks, but I’m pretty sick of rude dogs with rude owners and I am striking back.
    I don’t let my dogs fight with or be rude to each other, so I’ll be darned if I will let others treat them that way, it is my job to protect them.

  21. I would love the creative geniuses behind these PSA’s to design one on the dangers of tossing peach pits, mango pits, chicken bones, turkey legs, and food still in bags etc on the ground on behalf of all the dogs that have endured painful surgeries, stressful vet visits, and who have even died. The other day I had someone snarkily comment as I was forced to fish yet another peach pit from my dog’s gullet-and he was genuinely surprised to learn the emotional/physical/financial expense of that gooey little nugget. I don’t see why I have to muzzle my dog when there are trashcans available within walking distance!!

  22. We LOVE the DINOS group and all the awareness being raised. More than once while I was working on training/behavior with The Mocha I had to tell people to stay away and they wouldn’t listen. “My dog is friendly,” they would say. Mocha is, too. But at that moment it was work time, not play time.

    Off leash dogs are a whole other matter. We had a neighbor that wouldn’t restrain their dog (a little white yappy fluffly thing) and it would run out from behind their house and get in Mocha’s face. The first time Mocha completely ignored it. The second time she was mildly annoyed and I told the people they needed to do something. The third time I actually heard Mocha let out a low, deep growl at the dog before I could get in between them. That time I told the lady that her dog is threatening my dog and something bad could happen, and it would most likely not be to The Mocha. We haven’t had any more problems.

  23. I know it is said to never look a dog directly in the eye….as it is seen as a challenge and will only exacerbate and aggressive situation. BUT I was walking my terrier mix named Smudge (in my avatar picture) on leash…in our neighborhood. As I walked past a home on the opposite side of the street 2 pit bulls crashed through a garage door and ran directly at me and my dog. There was no time to run, no place to go…my dog and I were pinned against a fence. I pulled my 20lb dog (love of my life) behind me and looked the dogs directly in the eye and screamed at them at the top of my lungs. I was holding them off of us with my eyes and crazy demeanor. I knew as soon as I lost their gaze they would get my dog. I was holding them both off with my screaming commands, and locked eye contact. In a split second I found a moment to lift my dog into the air…..over my head. The dogs were clearly interested in getting Smudge and not me. I held him over my head and as the dogs jumped up to my eye level trying to grab my dog. I began to slowly step sideways and inch down the road until I was beyond their perceived territory. They finally turned and went back to their driveway. I got home and was shaking all over as it finally sunk in how close I had come to loosing my sweet dog. I reported it to the town and they made a note of my complaint. A week later I got a call from the town about a dog that had been mauled by the same two dogs and they wanted me to come in and make a statement about what had happened. The other dog survived after $3000.00 dollars worth of stitches and intensive care…the dog was a labradoodle. I do not blame the dogs that became vicious….I blame the boy who owned them and did not know how to care for them, socialize them or any clue how to own any dog. They were status to him and the dogs payed a horrible price. The town told him he had to put up approved fencing, chip his dogs and pay the vet bills of the dog that was injured. The family was poor and they could not afford to do what the town required….I pray the dogs were given to a rehab facility but I fear they were put down. This should have never happened……heartbreaking…… I guess what I’m saying is in this moment my only choice was to become bigger and tougher than the dogs…and I was lucky to be able to walk away unhurt with my dog Smudge……♡

  24. Pingback: Coming clean: Chocko appreciates his personal space | Pittieful Love

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