Should I Let Strangers Pet My Dog?

As a dog parent, you have likely come across a time when you take your dog out on a walk and you are about to pass by a stranger. You see this person, who you don’t know, give your dog an adoring gaze, and then look in desperation over at you. You find yourself having to decide quickly how you are going to answer the question that is about to come your way. As they meet up with you, this outsider often asks, “Can I pet your dog?”

Should I Let Strangers Pet My Dog?

Answering this question may be something of a personal nature. Some people may not have any issues with letting strangers pet their dog, as long as they are comfortable with the individual. As long as their dog is showing interest in receiving attention from the person, some dog owners are ok letting it happen.

Others may feel that their sense of space is being invaded, simply because they have their dog with them. Perhaps they just want to be left alone with their canine friend and would prefer not to be approached in the first place. Having to tell someone “No” when they ask to pet your dog might feel a little uncomfortable for some.

A Word About Socialization

Socialization is important. To begin, when saying the word stranger, we aren’t talking about houseguests here. Yes, the first time your dog meets a houseguest, they will be a stranger to them. However, the idea is that you may want your guests to develop a friendship with your pets.

Strangers walking by on the street don’t need to develop a lasting relationship with your pet, so why should they need to pet it?

Allowing a Stranger to Pet Your Dog

You may not understand what the big deal is anyway, and you usually let strangers pet your dog. If you decide to do so, be on the lookout for any of the following changes in your dog’s body language:

  • Yawning or licking their lips
  • Backing away
  • Freezing or planting

This type of behavior means that you need to cancel the interaction. If your dog struggles with anxiety or aggression, letting a random person touch them may worsen its condition.

If you have told the stranger they can touch your dog and you wish now that you didn’t, get your dog away from them immediately.

As always, when it comes to interactions with strangers, trust your intuition.

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