"Can I pet your dog?" No.

Since you just said “no,” actually you weren’t polite IMO. You should add a little “he doesn’t like kids” or “he might bite” or some such up font. Just “no,” even said politely, has a rudeness about it, even if not intended.

Could have stopped right there. Goes way beyond dog petting obviously, but it’s included. Clueless parents are being cloned in mass quantities, it seems. Not in the given case, but I see it all the time… /soapbox

Is there some sort of disconnect here due to the shortened thread title? I’ll repeat the conversation here:
“Hi, can I pet your dog?” Stranger

Me: “Sorry, no.”

Most dogs have no problem with crowds and people. Some dogs love to be petted, others take it as an attack. I have a 6 month old shelter puppy that loves people. Bentley wouldn’t bite if you pulled his tail and bit him in the butt. But he loves to jump on people, and we’re having a difficult time training that out of him, especially when he’s excited. But my other dog wanted nothing to do with strange people reaching for her. Yet, she was in no other way aggressive around people. If you let her approach you, all was well.

My advice to all people is simply ASK before approaching someone else’s animal. If they say No, it’s not because they want to be rude.

Pfft. I really, really like girls, but they seldom let me pet them in public.

See, I don’t see this. People have said, ‘Sorry, no’ (politely) to me and Widget, and I didn’t take it as one bit rude. Since they don’t owe us a chance to pat the dog, they don’t owe us a reason why we can’t. The nice tone and smile are all it takes to make the refusal polite.

ETA: It’s great when they do give a reason (‘He sometimes snaps’ or ‘He’s nervous’ or whatever) because it helps me teach the kid why you have to be respectful with dogs. But again, teaching my kid dog-manners isn’t the dog-owner’s responsibility, so I see it as a bonus if they bother.

Right, because people bring their dogs to art fairs and other such events because they expect no one will notice or want to interact with their dog.

See this is what we mean when we talk about “social skills”. A person could choose any number of perfectly acceptible responses. However the ideal reasponse is one that gets you what you want (ie not having your adorably monstrous dog manhandled by some little shit) without making the other party feel like a jerk or an idiot.

Really the best response is “I’d rather you didn’t pet him. He’s a rescue dog and he gets really nervous uncomfortible with strangers touching him.”

People like to know there is a reason behind your decision.

Then again, you may not care. The only harm in being rude to annoying people is that those annoying people will stay away from you. The downside is that might also get a reputation for being rude and people who you don’t find annoying might also stay away.

Right or wrong, I think that a dog at a public event is assumed to be friendly. I suspect that your wee pug is also unbearably cute and that makes him even more likely to attract attention. You do need to be pro-active to stop people from approaching him in a way that makes him uncomfortable, but you can do that both firmly and politely. A blunt NO to a request seems a little rude, adding some sort of explanation, like ‘he’s very shy, please don’t pet him’ softens the no a little. Be prepared to step between them and the dog and block them, or just hold up your hand and repeat, no petting, please. Sure people will look at you like you’re a big meanie-pants, but you need to keep your dog safe.

It doesn’t matter what kind of dog you have, people will want to pet him. I used to work in canine security. Full uniform, large German Shepherd and even after telling them that, yes, he will bite if necessary, they still wanted to pet him. And yes, I got the ‘but dogs love me’ thing too. Not this one. Trust me.

I adore German Shepherds, if they aren’t the product of bad breeding. A well trained, well socialized GS is a wonderful dog. But if it’s working, I don’t even ask to pet it. The dog is probably in “protector” mode, and it might decide that I’m a threat.

Now, I have asked if I can pet strangers’ dogs. I will always ask, even if the dogs are Golden retrievers, and I try to take a refusal graciously. I don’t know what’s going on in the human’s life, I don’t know what’s going on in the dog’s life.

I’d say that there is no social obligation to allow people to pet your dog. Most dogs will be happy with a bit of extra attention, but a few dogs clearly can’t handle it. And people need to tell their kids that even if they (the kids) ask nicely, they are still going to be refused from time to time. Just asking for something doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get it. It’s a great little life lesson.

I’m fine with people asking if they or their children can pet my dog. What annoys me is someone (kids, usually) asking without any preamble “Does he BITE?” I feel like saying “No, but fearful children make her nervous. Better stay away.”

It is really dumb to cop a resentment about your pwecious child not being allowed to pet a dog. I trust our Lab (who is friendly but somewhat scatterbrained) around strangers who are older than about 10, but I don’t want young children she doesn’t know touching her (they may not know how to properly pet a dog, she might tread on their sensitive little toes etc.).

I own a big, white, poodle.

No, you do not have an obligation to let every whiny little kid in the neighborhood pet your dog.

OTOH it’s generally considered good manners to not be unnecessarily blunt when speaking to an 8-year old. The kid is old enough to understand “He’s very shy.”

I agree that people shouldn’t be offended at “sorry, no” but also that a tad more explanation - that doesn’t sound like either “you suck” or “I’m bringing a vicious, unpredictable dog into a huge crowd just for the hell of it” would help. Something like “he’s nervous today” or “he’s still scared of strangers, I brought him here to let him get used to being out around people.”

?? Apparently there is a disconnect. I don’t know why you didn’t get what I wrote; I’ll try one more time: You should add a little “he doesn’t like kids” or “he might bite” or some such up font. Just “no,” even said politely, has a rudeness about it, even if not intended.

Hey somebody gets it, thx.

(bolding mine)

Very true. I guarrantee that if the OP had simply said the dog is acting extra skittish, so no petting today please, the mother would not have pressed the point at all.

“Sorry, no,” is a rather curt answer. I think most people would assume that the dog owner has a problem with the person asking the question (which seems in line with the Veruca Salt line of thinking), as opposed to the owner having everyone’s best interest in mind.

“Sorry, he gets nervous around people,” is better. Or things like, “Sorry, he’s overwhelmed now.” “Not right now, he’s not being friendly.” “Now’s not a good time for Wiggles.”

No, he will rip your fucking hand off! That should do it.

Social skills (or lack there of) indeedy. Only on the Dope.

I had this problem for a short time after Blackjack came to live at our house. Since he was literally a junkyard dog during his life up to that point I didn’t know how he might react to strangers. Even after establishing that he had no problem with adults there was still the question about children. It was easy to deal with by saying “Sorry, he might bite”. Turns out not to be a problem at all. He appears to be half Shepherd, half Border Collie, and 100% Attention Hound. He’s also a chick magnet. I always let them pet him, and he absolutely loves it. I wish I could get action like that.

Most children hear “don’t pet strange dogs, they may bite” so asking “Does he bite?” seems like a pretty regular question.

So did you or did you not add on the extra explanation? What happened when you did add it on?

Sounds like you were peeved and your dog was peeved and you were taking it out on people who weren’t able to read your mind (or your dog’s).

They can’t pet your dog, but it always ok to play with your pussy cat. :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley: