Polite Ways to Decline When Someone Asks to Pet Your Dog | Pet Palace

Polite Ways to Decline When Someone Asks to Pet Your Dog

how to decline when someone asks to pet your dog

We all know that dogs are our best friends, and while I’m sure we’re all guilty of fawning over a dog in public and asking to pet them, or just diving right in, that’s not always the right move. Whether a dog is in training, a service dog, or an anxious dog, there are several reasons why someone may have to decline when another person asks to pet them.

In our post, we’ll talk about the best ways to communicate to someone that your dog doesn’t enjoy receiving love from strangers.

Identify Why Your Dog Doesn’t Want Pets

You know your dog better than anyone else, which means you’ll most likely know exactly why your dog isn’t incredibly receptive to pets from strangers. The reason your dog is skeptical of strangers could shape your response when people try to pet them, and the environment that you’re currently in may inform this response as well.

For example, some dogs are only aggressive when on a leash, while others may be aggressive even when off leash. Some of the most common reasons dogs are either aggressive or anxious when a stranger approaches to pet them include:

  • They’re leash-aggressive – Leash aggression can be caused by frustration or fear. A leash-aggressive dog will bark or growl at passing humans or animals, and, if close enough, they might nip or bite as well. Leash-aggressive dogs sometimes let people know that they don’t want to be petted almost immediately by growling, but pet owners still should communicate clealy on their behalf.
  • They have anxiety – Dogs with anxiety can be very friendly, but when their boundaries are crossed they may have an anxious reaction. Dogs that are anxious may be wagging their tails and look inviting but could respond by becoming skittish when someone bends down to pet them.
  • They’re senior dogs – Older dogs tend to have a little less patience for strangers. If this is the case, your senior dog simply may not want to say hello to strangers the way that they did when they were young.

How to Tell Someone Politely Not to Pet

Communicating to someone that your dog does not like to be pet can be a difficult task. In some scenarios, humans don’t always ask – they see a dog and they immediately think it wants to be petted. Sometimes, even if they ask and you say no, people may insist that they’re different and that dogs love them, which requires you to further explain why not to pet your dog.

Here are a few of our favorite polite phrases to let someone know your dog does not want to be petted when asked:

  • “He/she is friendly, but anxious.”
  • “He/she doesn’t like pets, but they love treats!”
  • “Sorry, they’re tired today and not in the mood for extra pets.”

When telling someone that your dog doesn’t want to be petted, it’s easy to communicate that in a friendly manner simply by expressing things on behalf of your dog. Since your dog can’t communicate, it’s easy for people to accept that as their owner you would know best, and that your dog may simply be tired or done with social interactions for the day.

Alternative Ways to Say No

If you aren’t comfortable directly stating that your dog doesn’t like pets, there are alternative ways to avoid an unwanted interaction between your dog and a stranger:

  • Redirect attention – You can redirect both your dog’s and the stranger’s attention by saying, “They don’t love pets, but they can roll over.” Asking your dog to do a trick will help redirect the stranger’s intentions and it will help your dog focus on the trick rather than the fear, anger, or anxiety they’re experiencing.
  • Attach a yellow ribbon – A yellow ribbon tied to your dog’s collar or leash indicates that they may require some extra space. Just as a yellow stoplight indicates taking caution, a yellow ribbon will indicate that your dog may have anxiety or aggression and will require more space. A red ribbon, meanwhile, can indicate that your dog is reactive or aggressive.
  • Get a harness – People often see a harness and draw the conclusion that a dog is either aggressive or an emotional support animal. Either way, a harness can make a stranger at least give pause long enough to check with you before petting your dog.
  • Use an “ask before petting” sign – An “ask before petting” sign is the perfect way to non-verbally communicate that your dog may not want to be petted. These “ask before petting” signs can be purchased and attached to your dog’s harness or collar.

Other Steps You Can Take for a Dog That Doesn’t Want to Be Petted

If your dog is especially aggressive or anxious, it may be a good idea to take them to a few training classes. Training can help acclimate your dog to other dogs or learn to interact with new humans with less anxiety and frustration. Doggy daycare will also help increase and improve your dog’s interactions with other dogs and trained professionals.

Contact Pet Palace

If you need help with training, daycare, boarding, or grooming, Pet Palace has experts ready to assist you at many locations. Contact our team today to get started!

Lora Shaw

About the author

Lora Shaw

Lora Shaw is currently the Vice President of Operations at Pet Palace.

Categories: Dogs, Pet Safety, Tips for Your Pets