Sometimes My Dog Scares People

Usually I worry that my sweet, fluffy girl doesn’t scare people enough.

People put their hands in her face as Honey walks by. They snuggle up and try to kiss her. And they do all kinds of things I know they’d never try if she looked more like a Doberman or German Shepherd.

So if people take advantage of my dog’s friendly looks and breed’s reputation, why does my dog scare people?

My golden retriever dog sometimes scares people.

Scary Dog At Play

Honey loves to play. And it’s when she’s playing that my dog scares people.

One of her favorite games is bitey face.

If you don’t know the term, it’s when dogs wrestle with their mouths open and teeth flashing. It freaks people out who aren’t used to seeing dogs play that way. But it’s perfectly harmless.

In fact, it’s like the dog version of thumb wrestling. Dogs don’t have opposable thumbs so they just use their teeth.

But Honey has another favorite game that frightens people even more.

Honey the Golden Retriever plays bitey face with Bandit the foster puppy.

Let me teach you how to play bitey face, Bandit.

Noisy Dog On The End Of A Toy

Honey loves to play tug.

I’m not as good a playmate as my husband. So I can’t really get her going.

But when she and Mike go at it, things get serious.

Honey gets so excited tugging on a rope or toy that she growls low in her throat.

Honey the golden retriever puppy plays tug.

Even as a puppy, I played a fierce (and scary) game of tug.

You should see the look of shock and horror when people first hear that menacing sound from my little blonde pup.

I admit it. The first time I heard that low growl I was surprised too.

But soon I realized it was like the dog version of sex noises. They come out in the heat of the moment.

Honey the golden retriever puppy rests in her crate.

I was such a scary puppy they kept me in a cage. Like a tiger or lion. Grrrrrrrrr.

When Dogs Scare People

I’ve learned to love when Honey is scary.

She’s great at holding back when playing with a puppy or smaller dog. But she goes all out with a dog who’s big enough to handle her scary exuberance.

Her teeth flash like she’s channeling an ancient wolf ancestor fighting for survival.

And that growl… That wonderful growl.

It reminds me that Honey is more than just a pampered dog who never has to wonder where her next meal is coming from.

A small part of her is still that ancient wild dog who knew how to care for herself. But joined a human pack by choice.

And I’m very glad she joined mine.

Golden Retriever Biting Toy

Just look at my choppers. You better be scared. Just don’t get so scared you stop playing with me.

Your Turn: Do your dogs have any traits that scare other people but are perfectly harmless?

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Comments

  1. Jack’s size can be intimidating – but like Honey, he suffers (or benefits?) from his breed’s reputation, so most people think he’s this big lovable lug. But Jack sometimes has personal space issues with strangers, so it can be a challenge.

    • I wonder if you see the same thing with Jack that I do with Honey. When we’re walking in public, people reach out and touch her as we walk by.

      I know Honey doesn’t mind. But it always feels a little weird.

      I’d worry if I thought she had any sense of personal space.

      • Exactly – they do the same with him – people reach out to scratch his head – he’s tall, so it’s hand level for lots of folks…or they reach to take his head between their hands. He’s a lot better than he was, but I still warn people and knowing he doesn’t appreciate it – gotta stand up for my dog. Now once he knows you…well then he won’t leave you alone. My poor sister, he sits right next to her and just nudges and nudges her to pet him She obliges of course, so it’s her own fault.

  2. Katie is the one everyone should be scared of, but because she is solid white, no one is scared of her which is odd but people naturally fear darker colored dogs.

  3. Oh my gosh, the picture of Honey “playing bitey face” with the black and white pup could be a picture of my Abby, a lab mix ,with my sister’s dog a pit bull mix-Koda. Koda (a very sweet dog) unfortunately has been allowed to continue a habit of jumping up in your face to lick and greet you. She does this when she first sees Abby and sporadically during time they spend together.She never does this with other dogs (though she does it with people). She gets up in Abby’s face when they are together-she appears to be playing- whining and jumping at Abby, but she never lets up & Abby turns this way & that way trying to get away from her until she resorts to “bitey face” and growling/barking at Koda. She never bites but it seems so intense that I never took it as play and used to separate them. Now I just throw a ball or frisbee and Abby takes off away from Koda to get it and that stops the bitey face.

  4. Sheba is exactly like Honey. Sweet as anything until she and Luke get playing and then the wild dog comes out! It definitely can take people aback that aren’t used to it. She and Moses used to go at it, so I had forgotten how she could be when Luke started to get older and she felt like she could do it with him….she even still makes me jump sometimes when she lets out a fierce bark at him.

  5. I can totally see how all of these things are scary to people who aren’t used to it. My do will definitely scare people, but she barks at strangers so I don’t blame them for being scared. She does have a scary bark.

  6. I love scary dogs at play!

  7. “But soon I realized it was like the dog version of sex noises. They come out in the heat of the moment.”

    I laughed when I read this, and woke up Elka.

    Elka also growls “fiercely” when playing tug. It’s fun to get her super wound up, to the point where she sounds ready to take a limb off, and then hit the off switch with a “drop it” and a “down”. She looks at me so sweetly, anticipating the return of the game, and it’s a great show off!

  8. Hahaha! You’re hilarious!
    Dante also gets super noisy when he plays tug! It’s one of our favorite games. Sometimes I actually growl back and then the noise just escalates and he rumbles through the whole house. But he’s really good, when we say “drop” the game ends and he pouts but stops.
    We also play some pretty awesome chasing games through the house – this is mostly when it’s super nasty outside and the pups need exercise. We’ll chase through the house back and forth, I’ll grab at their butt’s then turn around and run and they both will chase me. This game usually ends with a wrestling match with daddy and more growling monster noises. All in good fun of course. :-)
    We scared a family member one time, the hubby was playing with Dante outside in the backyard of their house teasing at Dante’s feet and pushing him back and forth – a game Dante loves! He makes scary noises though and daddy plays with his mouth so it looks like Dante is biting but their is actually no pressure. Our family member was pretty impressed when he realized it was just a game that the hubby can call off at any time and Dante actually stops.

  9. That made me smile – and I needed that!

  10. Harley growls when he’s playing tug, he barks at strangers and I’m okay with that – because they’re strangers. What they don’t know is his bark is his request to play – BOL

    • Some crazy people just think a woof out of a big dog is always menacing.

      Let’s hope the bad guys never figure out what a big bundle of love Harley is or your silverware and television set aren’t safe from anyone.