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Pet Peeves: Children Sticking Hands in My Dog's Face!

Pet Peeves: Children Sticking Hands in My Dog's Face!

My friend passed along this frustrating tale of walking her dog in Brooklyn over the weekend, and I wanted to share her story with you and get your take on the right and wrong . . . and the best solution:Q: While walking my dog on Saturday afternoon down a side street, I stopped to pick up my dog's poop and, while I was taking care of his business, a child about four or five years old came up behind me and reached for my dog with her spare hand holding a bagel. I turned around right as my pooch went for the bagel and was able to pull him away before he grabbed it. The adult said nothing, gave me a "look of death," and dragged the child away by the other hand. I was shocked! If my pooch had grabbed the bagel, I'm sure it would have caused a scene, nevermind if the pooch wasn't as friendly as mine is. Shouldn't the mom pay more attention to her kid and not let her approach a strange dog with hands out . . . especially while appearing to offer food? What do you think?

See my answer when you


A: First off, no child or adult should ever pet a dog without checking with the owner first, so I'm siding with the dog owner here. Parents of both four-legged and two-legged kids must remain alert at all times on busy sidewalks. As smart as pooches are, they can't be expected to tell the difference between you holding food out for the pet to take and a stranger appearing to do the same thing.

My best recommendation whenever you're on a busy sidewalk is to be mindful of what's coming up next. If you see children (or any distraction that could cause tangles and scenes), switch hands and walk on the sidewalk with your pup on the opposite side of the approaching people. This may mean walking with a dog's leash in the hand closest to the street or the hand closest to the buildings. It may sound harsh, but you can also address the approaching parent with "watch the hands" before the child gets close enough to reach out — although they may be miffed by your directness, it's better that than tears (or worse!) afterwards.


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calicosassy calicosassy 6 years
i actually now have two dogs, Bella (12 weeks) and Cleo (8 weeks) both Great Danes, during training i keep them clear of the park or child areas and have gona as far as a scarf on their necks that say dont pet me i am learning, seems to help...
calicosassy calicosassy 6 years
When I went to the park with my dog Bella for the first time, she was 6 weeks old, i took my daughter to play and because she is training, I dont want people to touch her, I have had pups in the past think that they are supposed to be pet by everyone and they will run to people so i just dont allow people to pet her, she was sleeping beside my feet and off to the side, at the picnic table and a group of 10 - 11 year old children ran over and just jumped on her from behind me, scared the poor thing to death and i asked them to please not touch the puppy, shes scared, i asked very nicely and wasnt rude about it but they all looked at me like i was an evil bitch and one of them went to their mothers and their mother came over and YELLED at me saying if i didnt want kids to pet my dog why bring it to a park!! AS IF! Because of the presence of children I toned down from the first response in my head, and told her, mam their is no sign here saying no dogs, and no sign saying they are free range to be pet, and her child should have asked first and not scared the hell outta my dog (this kid was the one ontop of my dog) I was taught never to approch a strange dog and to this day if i see a dog that is abreed i do not recognize i am curious i ask the owner, but i wont pet the dog unless invited, i still have the ongoing issue with kids jumping on poor Bella, everywhere we go and only a few parents say anything about asking first, and fewer kids ask first. plus with a pup there are germs to consider, my dog is fully vaccinated but still ..... and i agree with many above comments Adutls are worse!!
Ikandy Ikandy 8 years
@daisydidi...Yup, I completely agree, Im more tolerant with kids coming up to my Romey and petting him, but adults...not cool.
Pencils Pencils 8 years
I always tell kids they have to ask before approaching when I'm walking the dogs, and that they should hold their hands out for the dog to sniff first. However, KKellum--how does that make it OK to say those kids are ugly? So their mother is ignorant, that doesn't mean it's OK for you to insult the children's looks. You're mean.
daisydidi daisydidi 8 years
omg i deal with this all the time too! it's SO frustrating! and something that bothers me even more than children doing this is when GROWN MEN AND WOMEN come up to my dog and start petting him. i mean, i know my dog rocko looks cute and friendly (and he is)...but you dont just go up to a strange dog and start petting them no matter how cute they look. YOU ASK FIRST! that is one thing i HATE about living in a many bonehead people around. ugh!
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 9 years
Animals are kid-magnets. And, not every parent has an animal in the family or has ever owned one, so how can they be expected to know how one might behave? I would err on the side of caution and not assuming a parent knows that a child should not approach an unknown animal/that the parent would be watching, and I would 'CMOA'(cover my own a$$) when out with my animal. After all, if their child comes up to your dog (or whatever) and starts completely messing with it, who gets sued if the child gets an injury? Exactly.
pinkworld320 pinkworld320 9 years
I can completely relate to this! My puppy Maizey gets very nervous around children (being a Shih Tzu Pomeranian she is only 4lbs!) and she freaks a little when they go to grab for her. They are often too rough and go at her too quickly. A lot of parents never say anything when their kid comes up and pet her without asking but they'll be the first to react if a growl or bark comes out. They should control their children and teach them not to pet unknown animals without permission!
Da-Ly Da-Ly 9 years
I agree, best story ever kkellum13. That kind of generalization in the long run is not helpful in teaching children to respect animals if the reason to not pet them or touch them is because they're dirty or will bite you. Adults need to be teaching respect and understanding for a living creature, so kudos to all those who do it.
tokki83 tokki83 9 years
kkellum13, you ROCK!!!!
baltimoregal baltimoregal 9 years
Pets just got BANNED from our local farmers' market because a kid (grandchild of a councilwoman) got nipped by a dog. People watch their dogs, but parents don't watch their children. Bad dog owners get penalized, but not the parents!
Mommy-of-Three Mommy-of-Three 9 years
I have both children and a dog and I have taught my kids to ask someone if they can pet their dog. Quite often we are told no and the kids understand this and don't approach the dog. They know that some dogs bite and some don't like kids. The problem I have is that people see me with my kids and dog and assume they can bring their kids to pet my dog. I keep him held tightly on the leash and always tell children to ask first. My dog is great with kids but I am trying to teach the lesson that other parents seem to not understand or bother teaching.
Jillz1128 Jillz1128 9 years
God I hate this too!!!! Parents just seem to think that if I am walking Scarlett that it is fine for them to let the kids just run up and pet her. My real pet peeve is that she is small and so they always try to pick her up! I always tell them no and explain they can hurt her. I also try to steer her away from kids that look rowdy.
GigglyGirl GigglyGirl 9 years
@silliness: I was just discussing this with my S.O. Do you think it's rude to bring children to the dog park at all, or just unsupervised, undisciplined children. What ages? Just might settle an argument..:O)
itsme3683 itsme3683 9 years
A j4everlasting, I always learned you gave them the top of your hand with your fingers down so that they don't get excited and nip a finger--I don't know if that's it but it makes sense to me. I don't have a dog =( so I always have to pet others', but I always ask if it's ok first. I know my parents always made me ask when I was a kid so I always do (besides for the fact it's just rude if you don't...), but what's so hard to parents about just teaching basic manners??
DarlingDA DarlingDA 9 years
If a kid runs up and tries to pet my doxie Ladybird, I let them...and laugh when they get bit by my 13 pound terror. Perhaps a lesson will be learned.
Silliness79 Silliness79 9 years
One of my pet peeves is when people bring their children to the dog park and let them run all over the place. To some dogs, little kids look like a giant, walking steak!! It's just asking for trouble.
GigglyGirl GigglyGirl 9 years
I've taught every kid that I've had this sort of interaction with the same way I was taught. Slowly put out the back of your hand and let the dog sniff it before you pet him. (AFTER asking the owner OF COURSE). I don't know the soundness of this, but it seems to be a good way to gauge a dog's mood after getting the OK from the owner (who, I assume, would say no if the dog was going to bite. The thing that sucks is that, no matter the provocation, a dog biting a strange child is a death sentence for it if it gets reported.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 9 years
People are just stupid. Who lets their child run up to a dog that is unknown!? Common sense is needed.
Aphrosette Aphrosette 9 years
There are A LOT and a mean A LOT of dogs in my neighborhood we probably have an average of one per house because most people who have a dog have 2 or more so thankfully most of the kids know to ask before they pet a dog. However if they don't ask and just run up I stop them immediately. Not because they can't pet my dogs but because I will explain to them that they need to ask first and that I need to put both dogs in a petting position for them. The dogs are in school just like they are, but the dogs are learning how to be petted nicely. Most of the kids love to hear that the dogs are in school too and generally will wait after I stop them. I feel bad for parents that are not animal people especially if they have kids that are. They really don't know how to handle animals and kids when the situation arrises. And not enough school teach safe animal practices
drea-nicole drea-nicole 9 years
I love it when strangers have the common sense to ask if they can pet Viva before they reach out to her. She is a very loving dog. My nephew has stuck his hand in Viva's mouth without being harmed, but you never know how she'll react to a stranger. Sometimes when we're walking she'll immediately like someone, but some people scare her or upset her. I think children tend to scare dogs because of the excited energy they give off.
Ellenora Ellenora 9 years
Ugh, I hate this incident most when I'm training Zena. Zena is only 17" at the shoulders and the children at the park (there's an elementary school with a country park attached to it where I train her) flock to her. She's a people dog, but there is a time and a place for love for her. Training is NOT one of those times. When this happens, I tell Zena to "sit" and tell the children to go away, I am training my dog in a slightly miffed tone. I baby-sit for a living, but they should know I must be training her if I'm telling her to "Sit," "Down," "Stay" and "Heel" all over the park. I do not take kindly to people disrupting training time. Other times, I tell them to ask me, the owner walking the dog, to pet her. Zena isn't mean but I know what it's like to be bitten by a dog when I forgot to ask if it were okay or not! I wouldn't want Zena feeling unsafe which would cause her to growl or snap back either.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 9 years
Approach a strange dog without an invitation from the owner? It's just not proper!
jessie jessie 9 years
having a mom who has worked in a animal shelter for over 20 yrs, i was always taught to ask the owners if we could pet their dogs/cat/whatnot. i've taught my kids the same thing. its dangerous to just run up to a pet you do not know, it scares them and the owner. its the parents responsibility to teach children the importance of pet safety.
shepptacular shepptacular 9 years
I totally agree with this. When I first got my dog she was wild but really adores children so she always wants to protect or run after them when they are playing. Being that she's a pitbull however leads to less problems for me with kids because parents automatically assume she's dangerous and move to the's actually those who own dogs that will come up and play with Hope without asking!
cokerad cokerad 9 years
My giant puppy, when approached my small children, has always looked like she was going to jump on them and knock them over, so I keep her close to me and keep walking when kids are near. I throw a "Sorry she's too wild!" over my shoulder and don't look back. I hate the sound of kids screaming, so I am not going to get myself into a situation to have to listen to that crap.
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