"Can I pet your dog?" No.

Maybe “he’s having a bad (or cranky) day.”

I’ll quote myself again.

No. I figured that if asked if they could, my reply of “sorry, no” should suffice. I was only peeved when someone complained that I said “sorry, no” to their child. Askin’ ain’t gettin’, even if you ask nice.

You don’t see a difference between me replying “no” versus “Sorry, no”? You keep quoting me as saying “just ‘no’”.

I just got a dog five weeks ago, and, no, you absolutely do not have a duty to let anyone who wants to pet it, pet it. You’re the person responsible for the dog’s behavior, and if shit goes down, who do you think is getting the lawsuit? If you’re not comfortable with the dog being petted, do not let it be petted.

That said, there’s diplomatic ways of doing it. Not that the direct approach isn’t okay (I think it should be fine), but I’d say something like “No, he’s scared of strangers” to a child or something to that effect.

What pisses me off is people who just approach and manhandle my dog without even asking. I was at a bar yesterday (at a doggie-get-together event), and I was just about to lose it when this guy approached my pit mix and started to manhandle it, giving it commands, and tugging on his collar when he didn’t obey. Now, it’s a doggie get-together, so I get people not asking permission, assuming all the dogs are okay with human interaction. That’s fine. But tugging on his collar and correcting him? I’m new to dogs, so I don’t know if this is normal, but it seemed weird to me. I didn’t want to cause a scene, but I really was that close to losing my shit, before he lost interest and continued on his way. I mean, if my dog freaks out and mauls the guy for being too playful with him, who’s the one going to get blamed?

There’s nothing wrong with what you did. Some of us just feel it would have been better to go a little extra distance and offer an explanation like “Sorry, no, he doesn’t like strangers touching him” without being asked.

That’s what I’m getting from this thread too. I think in the future, I’ll give a little more like “Sorry, no, he’s really shy.”

This thread illustrates why it’s so hard for some people to “Just say no”. It’s become a widespread societal expectation that you have to offer an explanation for declining a request.

This explanation should ideally make the request appear entirely reasonable (even if it’s outrageous) and make it seem like if there were any way in the world you could possibly accommodate them you would (even if you wouldn’t) because you are so very sorry (even if you don’t care) to have dashed their hopes to pieces.

It allows them to walk away with their dignity intact. :slight_smile:

This could have been a good teaching moment for the mother if she hadn’t become so defensive. She could have told her kid she was proud of her for asking so nicely to pet the dog, but sometimes people have their reasons for saying “no” that we don’t know about.

“Become”? I think it’s always been that way. Curt responses, whether positive or negative, have a tendency to be interpreted in a negative manner, in my experience. In many cases, you shouldn’t give a shit. But, in the OP’s case, if there’s a chance of running into those people again, I would go for a more verbose response. Just add a couple words, a smile, and you’re golden.

Why did you include the backstory in your OP? Because it was important for us to understand the situation. You instinctively knew that. However, at the art fair, you didn’t include the backstory until you were asked, and then resented giving it.

Rightly or wrongly, most folks expect you to say yes when they ask “Can I pet your dog?” in a situation like an art fair. (think about it–that’s why service dogs have those “no petting” signs) If you are going to violate that expectation, giving a short explanation would make YOUR life easier. You can, of course, choose not to give it, but that will make your life harder. Your choice.

How long ago do you figure this whacky expectation started?

I’m sorta scratching my head over why adding a couple of words to soften the dissapointment of a child is such a bad thing in this case. Isn’t it a general aspect of politeness to allow others to walk away ‘with dignity intact’ - even if you have done absolutely nothing wrong, the encounter was all of their making, and you have no actual duty to? It isn’t like the child has acted maliciously in asking to pet the animal. Malice deserves a curt response. Non-malicious interaction doesn’t.

What’s kind of a key point for me here is that you were at an art fair, you weren’t just walking the dog in the park or around the block. Art fairs are intended to attract crowds so that vendors make money, and I personally would assume that a dog at a summer outdoor art fair is well socialized and not afraid of strangers. Yeah when you say “No” people should respect that, but I think it’s understandable that the person asking would be thrown by the unexpected response. I also don’t see why it would be such a big deal to add “Oh I wish you could but she’s afraid of strangers” given the context.

I wholeheartedly agree with this.

That is definitely out of bounds. You ask permission to pet, or do anything else with someone else’s dog. And if that jackass thought he was one of those “I know dogs” guys, he proved that he didn’t right there.

Last week outside of the farmer’s market my 9 year old asked if he could pet someone’s dog. We have taught him to always ask, and he does it regularly.

This person said (paraphrased), “Sorry, no. He is a rescue dog and we are still working on getting him used to people. We are here every Saturday - keep asking and we will let you know when he is ready.”

It was awesome. My son got to learn about rescue dogs, and about how some people abuse dogs (not that abuse is awesome, just one of those teaching moments that comes along in a person’s life.)

Depending on the age, most kids (and even most adults) will follow-up with a “why?” question when told “no.” So, yeah, tossing in the extra explanation is always helpful for the little ones, and for the parents as well. If the kid comes back and says that they were told no because wiggles is grumpy, I can talk to the kid and tell them that sometimes pets are not in the mood to play. If the kid comes back and says that the man said the dog bites, I can talk about how dogs bite. I will also file the person and dog into memory - if your dog is a biter, keep the dog out of public places. If the kid comes back with just a “no” answer, I tell the kid that is all the answer we get, that is life, and some people suck at communication.

OK, glad to know I’m not crazy.

This is a perfect answer.

I should have mentioned that someone who knows dogs also would know dog’s best friends. No one has any more right to touch my dog than they do to touch any member of my family. Even those crazed nazi dog trainers ask permission before they begin to handle someone else’s dog.

As an additional precaution, I also tell people that Blackjack won’t hurt anybody, as long as I’m around.

This is good to know. I will certainly be more assertive in the future. But I’m new to all of this, so I don’t know what is expected.

Your life is going to be so much better from here on out. Just don’t try to read inside of your dog. :slight_smile:

Sometimes people approach you when you don’t want to be bothered, but it’s expected for you to smile and pretend otherwise. I do it and I know I’m not the only one.

If you’ll go back and re-read my post’s description of the ideal explanation, it would give you an idea of what I would have said and my possibly hidden thoughts (in parentheses) about saying it.