12 Things Dog Parents Wish Non-Dog Owners Knew

Besides being absolute fanatics about dogs, most pet parents have a few key things in common: We abide by a shared set of rules that we wish more people knew about when it comes to our dogs. If you're a non-dog owner, you might not know these rules. So here's a primer.

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Please ask before petting!

I completely get it. I want to pet every dog I see, every dog I've heard of, and every dog I make up in my mind. However, I'm also the owner of a sometimes-reactive dog. I would love to be able to say "anyone can pet my dog at any time," but it's just not true. Just like me, my dog doesn't always want to be touched, and that's ok.

2. Please don't take it personally if a dog doesn't want to be pet.

This point is an extension of the first rule. We don't know the past experiences that any given dog has experienced! When I adopted my dog at one year old, she came with approximately one billion pre-programmed fears. In addition to their life experiences, dogs can have stressful days, feel ill or may be experiencing any number of stressors unrelated to you.

Please let dogs take the lead.

Humans have a tendency to forget that dogs aren't stuffed animals who are here for our petting pleasure. Remember that if you're given permission to pet a dog, it's always best to let the dog come to you. Crouch down to the dog's level, extend your hand and then wait for the dog to show interest (hand licking, tail wagging or voluntarily coming closer to you) before proceeding.

Please don't feed my dog without asking.

Look, we all wish we could feed everything to every dog. There are 10 dogs on my street that I want to give ice cream to at any given moment, but feeding someone else's dog is potentially dangerous. The dog may have allergies or sensitivities that you don't know about. (Also, are you familiar with all the foods that dogs can't eat? There may be some you don't know about!) Plus, some owners don't want their dog to have "people food."

We never get tired of talking about our dogs.

You probably already know this one, but to clarify: never feel bad about asking us about our dog's backstory. Sometimes people will ask what my dog's story is and will start with "you probably get this all the time, but ... " I do get asked this question all the time, and I'm still not sick of talking about it!

Please don't give us unsolicited advice.

This is true in all situations, regardless if a dog is involved or not. Please don't give unsolicited advice about our pets! It's annoying; we won't take it; and everyone loses.

Everything is a process.

If you see our dog exhibiting an unwanted behavior, we are usually working on it! Believe me, I wish my dog barked less, too. My trainer and I work on it every week. All training takes time. So much time. Please be patient with us!

We know dog hair is all over us, and we don't care.

This hearkens back to "unsolicited advice." I know that I am more dog hair than person at this point. I have accepted it, and so should you.

Our financial circumstances may have changed since we adopted our dogs.

It's easy to judge us for not "doing it right." I've heard comments that pass judgment on dog owners for everything from having dogs in small apartments to not being able to afford training classes. While a dog's well-being is always important, keep in mind that the lifestyles and financial circumstances of pet parents change. (I adopted my dog when I had a steady salaried job and was laid off two years later!) Most dog owners are doing their best with the resources they have.

Dog owners have each other's backs.

Dog owners have a special kind of solidarity, and we will drop everything to help out a friend's dog. We all know the stress of getting held up in a meeting or stuck in traffic when the dog needs to go outside to potty, and we'll usually do everything we can to help a friend out of a similar situation. (On a related note, we all have each other's house keys.)

When in doubt, ask!

Unsure about anything related to my dog? Just ask! Does she like kids? (Sometimes.) Is she good with cats? (Yes!) Can you feed her an entire cob of corn? (No.) I will talk about my dog for days on end, and I'm happy to answer questions about how to interact with her, what her favorite food is, what she smells like, or literally anything else you want to know.

Our dogs take precedence over everything else in our lives.

Duh.

Why Do Dogs Stare At You When They Poop?

Please ask before petting!

I completely get it. I want to pet every dog I see, every dog I've heard of, and every dog I make up in my mind. However, I'm also the owner of a sometimes-reactive dog. I would love to be able to say "anyone can pet my dog at any time," but it's just not true. Just like me, my dog doesn't always want to be touched, and that's ok.