skip to content

Should you allow strangers to pet your dog?

dog running with training collar on

Should you allow strangers to pet your dog?

Generally, I say no. Unless your dog is a show dog or entered in a competition that insists upon handling, its almost always a bad idea.

People always want a dog that is non reactive. One of the best ways to create a reactive dog is to let the dog freely interact with strangers. Always remember that dogs are reactive, not proactive. Dogs that are routinely allowed to interact with strangers will anticipate that everyone they meet is a potential playmate. This is why you see dogs, particularly puppies, almost lose their mind when they see a new person, either at home or on the street.

I prefer to advise strangers that the dog is in training and handling will interfere. I advise that people you meet should maintain at least a 6 foot distance from my dog. This does a couple of things for your dog, all of them good. A lot of dogs are apprehensive of strangers and having the dog know that strangers will not enter its space will make it easier to relax and feel safe. For the dog that seeks contact with strangers, having people maintaining their distance teaches your dog that people really aren’t that interesting so it will make it easier to maintain focus on the handler…you, and not the environment.

Last but not least, we should always remember that we are in charge of our dogs safety. Saying your dog will never react aggressively with strangers is to say you can accurately predict strangers behavior. Trust me, you can’t. Odd behavior in a human can trigger odd behavior in a dog.

I hope this helps some new dog owners who are looking to have a calm , focused dog. For more help feel free to contact me or call me at 941-416-3489.

Mark Jacobs
Training Director
On Command K9 Academy