You are ALWAYS allowed to say 'no' to unwanted attention from people, dogs or other animals

I wanted to share a storey about something that happened while I was out for a walk with one of my Pitt Bulls because there are so many other dog owners out there who regularly encounter the same situations and are often unsure what to do.....

A few days ago I was out walking with one of my Pitt bulls in a very busy area. There were bikes, atvs, walkers, other dogs, horse riders, adults, kids... everyone and everything. We decided to stop at some picnic tables and take a little break in the shade to practice our calm down/stays... and what a perfectly busy place to practice calm duration work! While we were focusing on our task, a little girl about 4 years old approached us and shyly asked "may I please pet you dog?" Now this little one was adorable! She was still wearing her white and pink bike helmet and was just as polite as a saint... so it made my response even harder. I replied "No, I'm very sorry but my dog is in training so he isn't allowed to be patted right now. But thank you so much for asking! I really appreciate it!" And I gave her a warm and encouraging smile to try and ease her disappointment. The little girl wasn't phased a bit and instead she was happy to simply admire my dog without touching him before moving on to politely ask someone else if she could pat their dog. Now I know this seems harsh... she was only a little girl, how could I tell her no?! Well, I told her no for three very important reasons: 1- my dog is in training and if I were to allow this interaction it would send him a mixed message because I had been asking him for a calm and focused down/stay which means he is to ignore the things around him and not to socialize... not even with polite little sweetie pies 😉 2- my dog does not like to be touched by strange people or strange dogs. He is the kind of dog who loves his family but has no interest in interacting with anyone else... to allow a stranger to touch him would make him uncomfortable and that's not fair to my dog. 3- my dog is a Pitt Bull. Right now Pitt Bulls are very much the centre of scrutiny and fear. The smallest mistake or infraction made by a Pitt Bull (especially to a child) is taken to the most serious degree so as Pitt Bull owners it's our responsibility to ensure our dogs best behaviour at all times because it will reflect on ALL Pitt Bulls. And one great way to get the best from your dog is by not putting them in situations where they will fail. Imagine if I had caved to the social pressure that says 'dogs must like being patted' and allowed the little girl to pat my dog knowing that he doesn't like to be touched. Now from my dogs point of view this would have been a huge betrayal of my promise to protect him and keep him safe so he may then have felt obligated to fend off the unwanted touching himself.... something I NEVER want my dogs doing. So to be fair to all and keep everyone safe, it was my job to be 'the bad guy' and say No. You are ALWAYS allowed to say 'no' to unwanted attention from people, dogs or other animals. The social norm is that it's ok to put our dogs in unsafe or uncomfortable situations (dogs meeting on leash, unwanted petting, being approached by off leash dogs) because it's more wrong to be rude by saying 'no'.... but the social norm is wrong! You are allowed to say no! And if you have a dog like mine who doesn't like being touched, then you are obligated to advocate for him by saying 'No'. Sometimes advocating for you dog means 'being the bad guy' and getting some funny looks or comments but that's the deal. If we want the best possible behaviour from our dogs then we gotta be prepared to make the tough calls. You got this! ❤️

Kristen Cameron