Dear Dog "Lovers"

Throughout my years as a dog owner I have noticed a lot of things about dogs, a lot of things about people and even more things about dog people. One of my most recent sources of frustration has been the way that the people who believe that they love dogs disregard a dog's need for personal space and pack mentality. I have noticed that a majority of people like dogs, but they have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that dogs have personalities, wants, needs, preferences, and most importantly likes and dislikes. 

A dog that doesn't want to be touched or approached is instantly judged by all human onlookers and my question is why? The way that I've learned to respect the space of pets is understanding that all pets will not behave, or take to me like my own so it's safe for me to assume that I cannot just pet anyone's pet. When I receive the question "Can I pet your dog?" my answer before understanding the personalities of pets was always "Yes!" with a great big smile but in my most recent years I've reworded that answer to, "Sure, but you will have to ask them.". 

This is not to be sarcastic, or unique or to even offend anyone. It is just the reality of the situation. A pet owner can be completely okay with you meeting their companion, but you still need the permission of the dog themselves. If you can put yourself in a dog's position it will be easy for you to understand why they might back away from your quickly approaching hand. No one meets a large amount of strangers and is automatically okay with being touched. We, like all other animals, thrive on a sense of community and a need to feel welcome and safe. I know it is a hard pill to swallow because dogs are so cute and the common thought surrounding them is that they are all friendly and the ones that don't want to lick everyone are somehow strange, but it is actually okay for a living, breathing animal to not enjoy every person that it comes across. This doesn't make them weird, timid, shy or any of the other personality descriptors that you may pull out of your pocket to make yourself feel better about being rejected. Just like some people enjoy only being around a particular crowd, so do some dogs and if you respect them as individuals you would respect their space as well.

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