Cuteness can be a curse, especially if you’re a dog. I’m sure that all of us have been asked by strangers for permission to pet our dogs – particularly on public transport. It’s hard to say no because, let’s be honest, it is nice that other people find them cute. Moreover, I personally feel like they should be rewarded for asking (instead of just reaching out for them, as if dogs were objects…). And yet, I say no. To everyone. Even to the grandmas. Even to the children.
Because dogs can’t escape the outstretched hand in that situation.
Because dogs – just like people – have the right to choose who touches them and when.
Because even if they’re used to it, public transport is still challenging for dogs – full of sudden movements, smells and unknown objects – and I don’t want to make it harder.
What can you say to people?
Thank you for asking, we appreciate it, but…
- my dog doesn’t like being petted by strangers1
- this is a stressful situation for my dog, so I’d rather you didn’t2
- my dog can’t communicate their preference clearly in this situation, so I’d rather you didn’t
How can you make travelling on public transport easier on your dog?
If they are not used to public transport:
- get them used to it by starting with mostly empty vehicles
- create good associations: initially take them on public transport only to get somewhere fun for them
Find a good spot for them:
- avoid peak times if possible
- help them find safe spaces (for example corners)
- position yourself so that you protect them and especially their tails from being stepped on
Once you found a good spot:
- watch out for other dogs and children
- if they like it, pet them calmly
- if they take treats, treat them
- support them as much as they need, their tolerance for public transport might vary depending on how they’re feeling on a particular day
- don’t let strangers pet them 😉