One of the great joys of having a dog is taking them out for a walk or to the park and seeing everyone hem and haw over how adorable they are. Sure, people do that with kids too but then you have to deal with a kid instead of a dog! When you’re out and about, people are probably going to approach your dog. Some might ask you before they do; some might just go ahead and start petting. How much stranger interaction should you allow and how much should you expect your dog to handle?
Of course, this varies from dog to dog. If you’ve got a dog that has emotional or behavioral issues, it’s best not to let that dog roam when there are strangers around. Children in particular can be very trying on dogs that are recovering from abuse or neglect and they might not give the warning signs that well-adjusted dogs do. A well-adjusted dog gives growls or snarls when they are being bothered by someone, including little someone’s, so that the owner will know the dog isn’t into this situation. A dog that doesn’t give warnings might snap at someone near it or even bite them. If you know your dog has a history of emotional problems then it’s best to take care of those before you let strangers adore them.
Most adults will understand if you ask them nicely not to pet your dog but it’s best to keep your dog on a leash if it often becomes aggressive or has issues with people. Invest in a good leather dog collar or a harness, depending on size, to take your dog out in public. Even well-behaved dogs can get overstimulated so get to know your dog very well before taking them somewhere with lots of people and other dogs.
Big dogs tend to be seen as dangerous but little dogs can be just as aggressive, sometimes more so. Regardless of size, keep an eye on your dog around other animals and people to make sure that a situation doesn’t escalate quickly and become a violent and possibly costly encounter. Fenced in dog parks are great for seeing how your dog interacts and also provides an extra level of security so if something goes wrong, a dog can’t bolt away in a panic and get lost or hit by a car.
Public parks and playgrounds can be a great place to go once you know how your dog will react to strangers. Naturally, dogs love having space to run around and the attitude of most people hanging out in parks or accompanying their kids on a playground is a relaxed one so even if your dog is a little energetic, there won’t be an issue. An energetic dog is a fun one, for sure, but make sure they’re not interrupting other people’s day or getting too close to a dog that wants nothing to do with them. Just because it’s okay for your dog to meet and greet doesn’t mean it’s okay for other people’s’ dogs.
If your dog has no behavioral or emotional problems, there shouldn’t be an issue letting strangers meet or even play with them. You should always keep an eye on them, no matter how well-behaved they are, in case they run into dogs that want nothing to do with them, dogs that are too aggressive, or children who may not understand how an animal reacts to them. A well-behaved dog tends to be welcomed by most people so if strangers want to meet your pup and your pup is into it then take them out and have a blast. You’ll probably make someone’s day!