I posted recently about the staggering foolishness of people who approach dogs they don’t know with a dangerous lack of respectful caution around animals. What I failed to mention, though, was the even more ridiculous behavior of people who have way too much caution, and make things infinitely worse through their behavior.
It’s amazing the foolish ways grown adults will behave sometimes.
I’ve been continuously appalled at the ridiculous reactions that people here in New York City — and even in my building — have when they see my dogs. Two dogs (admittedly large) sitting quietly in an elevator or walking calmly and slowly by my side, and yet people will literally scream and leap back as if the dogs were on fire.
Because that’s what you want to do… startle a dog from a few feet away and make a big dramatic gesture. ’cause dogs get really happy when you do that, especially when you’re a stranger.
Note the sarcasm… for someone who is nervous or uncomfortable around big dogs, maybe the best approach would be to not make a great big flashy startling target of yourself, eh? If you don’t acknowledge the dog, and calmly walk past, you have nothing to worry about. Make an ass of yourself, and you might have a problem.
The three of us (my two dogs and I) were waiting patiently for the elevator in my building recently, and when the door opened, a man started to walk out quickly without looking where he was going. At the last moment, right before he almost stepped on one of the dogs, he looked up and literally screamed, jumping backwards into the elevator, waiving his arms frantically. Both dogs sat perfectly still and looked up at me quizzically, as if to say, “What the hell is this guy’s problem?”
Like I said before, an animal can be somewhat unpredictable, and you can never know how well trained/behaved a dog will be. A healthy amount of caution is good, because even the best trained dog can surprise you with a negative reaction. But how ’bout we don’t go out of our way to provoke that reaction through our own irrational antics, m’kay?