Why Dog Lovers Piss Me Off

Golden Retriever playing mini golf

I don’t know why you asked the owner if I could play mini golf with you. Who could say no to this face?

I love people who love dogs. Except when I don’t.

There’s one kind of dog lover who pisses me off every time. That’s the dog lover who loves dogs so much that they totally disrespect humans. And as a result, make things even harder for me and other dog lovers.

What do I mean? Check out my list.

Disrespectful Dog Lovers

walk their dogs off leash in public areas despite the fact that they can’t recall their dog to their side in an instant

insist on bringing their dog with them into businesses whether they have a dog-friendly policy or not

rent cars or vacation homes without bothering to clean out the dog hair before they leave

Honey the Golden Retriever with BlogPaws swag

Why do you always bring extra sheets to the hotel? Don’t the maids love cleaning up dog hair?

seek out bogus companies that “register” their dogs as service animals so they can bring dogs with them despite them not having the training or responsibilities of an actual service dog

let their dogs bark loudly for long stretches of time then insisting that anyone who complains is a jerk who just hates dogs

feed their dogs off their plates in pet-friendly restaurants

refuse to pick up after their dogs on a walk—after all, their leaving is small and it’s only natural

allow their dogs to jump on strangers to say hello

stop to pet service dogs while they’re working

bring their dog with poor social skills to the dog park and laugh when he bullies other dogs

walk their dog on the end of a flexi-leash and not even notice the dog is trampling flower beds or harassing cats along the way

allow their dogs to play in their laps while they’re driving

come rushing up to greet strange dogs despite being warned off that the dog is in training or fears strangers

take their dogs with them in the car every day, despite the weather not being suitable to leave a dog behind while her person does errands

dress their dogs or put them in “cute” situations without desensitization training and ignoring the dog’s discomfort

allow their dogs to run up to a stranger and when it’s obvious the person is afraid, yelling, “he’s friendly; he just wants to say hi”

And the list could go on.

Golden Retriever at Gecko's outdoor seating

What do you mean I can’t lick the plates? You let me do it at home!

Dog Lovers Need to Love People Too

Or at least to respect them a little bit.

Listen, I get it. You love dogs so much you can’t help yourself.

I’ve been there.

I squee inside when I see a service dog and have to force myself not to run a hand across their fur when I pass one on the bus. I’d like to take Honey with me into every shop and restaurant. And believe me, if I thought it was reasonable to leave a trail of dog hair in every rental car or beach cottage we rent, I’d do it in a second.

But I can’t. Because I’m a communitarian. Whatever I do, I try to think of how it will affect other people around me (and even in the world community).

Think of it as the opposite of libertarianism.

But I’m not totally selfless either.

I want to live in a world where I can take Honey with me everywhere I go. I’d like to see restaurants allows well-mannered dogs inside, not just on the patio. I want to get rid of “no dogs allowed” signs at parks and playgrounds.

But if rude dog lovers are pissing me off, I can only imagine how much people who dislike dogs must feel. And they’re happy to keep dogs out of public life using the excuse that dogs cause trouble.

Actually, we all know it’s their rude people who are causing the trouble. Dogs are just being dogs.

But as long as there are dog lovers who pit loving their canines against respecting humans all around them, we’ll never see the dog-friendly policies I’d like to see in the U.S.

Honey the golden retriever wonders why dogs aren't allowed.

No dogs allowed? Why wouldn’t you allow dogs on an outdoor, pedestrian mall?

Can We Make Dog Haters Into Dog Tolerators

There are websites devoted to people ranting about how much they hate dogs.

Sometimes they’re just crazy people. But often they are ranting about the same things on my list of the ways dog lovers piss me off.

If rude dog lovers respected humans a little more,  could we turn those dog haters into dog tolerators? After all, what’s to hate about a dog walking peacefully on leash with his person?

Maybe when other dog lovers stop pissing me off, they’ll stop making dog haters insane with rage. And we can make the world just a little more pet-friendly.

Your Turn: What do you think? Are dog lovers dooming our chances of making the world more pet-friendly? If you disagree, tell me why in the comments. If you agree, share this post.








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  1. Hear! Hear! I am in total agreement.

  2. Oh the irresponsible dog lovers. I think they are just a certain type of oblivious people. They are the ones whose kids piss you off as well.

    We agree with everything off your list…except I would slip them a french fry at the end of my meal if I had dog friendly restaurants around here, guilty. Flexi leashes are the absolute worst, WHY does your dog need to walk 50 feet away from you I ask?!

    I hate the no dogs allowed signs as well. Though I would never take Jack inside anywhere yet, I would love to take Dexter for a quick Starbucks run. Starbucks- are you listening? You are losing TONS of money from me! Doggie window?

    • Oh, I must not have expressed myself well. I’m all for slipping french fries to Honey under the table. I meant to refer to people who let their dogs lick the plates at a restaurant.

      Personally, it doesn’t bother me. Nothing can live through a commercial dishwasher. But I can see it putting off other people.

      And yes, some people are just jerks. Their jerkiness can be expressed through their dogs, their kids, their cigarettes, and even their coffee habit (no offense). :) But I’m sick of seeing half-drunk coffee cups on library shelves in left behind in the rental car.

      BTW, write a letter to your local Starbucks asking for a doggie window. I bet it would be a huge hit.

  3. Yes!!! Ugh I hate all of these people. I especially hate that their actions ruin things for the rest of us. Off-leash dogs are one of my biggest pet peeves. A big reason why is because I was almost attacked by a dog when I was about 4 or 5 years old and was very afraid of dogs for a good part of my life. As a child, a dog off a leash was the scariest thing imaginable (I actually refused to get off the bus when we went on a field trip to a farm because I saw a dog). As a teenager it made me panic. As an adult with a dog, it still puts me into fight or flight mode but I handle it much better. Even if Bailey had amazing recall or walked by my side always, I would never let her off leash in public spaces because for all I know there is a 5 year old girl nearby who thinks my dog is her greatest nightmare.

    • So sorry you had such a frightening experience with a dog. No one should have to feel that kind of fear.

      One of the biggest dog haters I know had her daughter bitten by an off-leash dog. And I can’t blame her a bit.

      • I don’t either. It’s sad that your friend now hates dogs because of the irresponsibility of its owner. Maybe one day she’ll come around to see that dogs aren’t the problem, their people are the problem.

  4. Did you know Tim Horton’s will offer a free TimBit at the drive-thru if your dog is in the car? My dog does. He knows that and has an inflated sense of self-entitlement about it.

    I do love business that love dogs. They get it.

    I am sitting here nodding my head at each of your solid points. Total agreement.

    In the service dog world we continue to see folk abusing the loosely written ADA laws with their false claims of their pet as a service dog. It’s a thing. And it’s a big deal.

    My personal view is that an individual with a disability already has an extra challenge, or more, as they go about their day. The ill-behaved and undertrained pets aren’t just making a bad impression when they act out in public venues. These folk and their dogs are putting up another hurdle for people who rely on their trained service dog to provide independence.

    Does this piss me off? You bet it does.

    But you know, I do wish we had more dog friendly businesses around. That pets and service dogs alike could be at their partner’s side at all time. But we need people to use common sense, too. Stuff your mama should have taught you, like courtesy and considering someone else beside yourself. There always seems to be that kind of person who screws it up for all of us.

    • Apparently lots of dogs know about the free TimBit thing. Did you read this story about a Tim Horton’s visit gone wrong? http://rescuedinsanity.com/2011/06/06/shiva-1-human-0/

      And yes, the false service dog claims make me insane.

      I had a client with Asperger’s whose dog was not a trained service animal. But she found having him nearby made social activities more comfortable for her.

      She asked if she could bring her dog to a class I taught. I asked the other students and no one objected. So the dog joined her in class.

      I appreciated that she was forthcoming with me about her needs. And it gave everyone in the class a chance to be generous of spirit. Plus they ALL enjoyed having a calm pup around to pet.

      Nothing good comes from people trying to pull something over on others.

  5. The biggest problem here is that dogs can’t really go anywhere, so dogs and their people never learn how to behave out in public. In Germany we could go almost everywhere except for grocery stores, bakeries and a few places that had no dog signs. From day one on we were out and about with people and dogs everywhere so it was “normal”. Dogs were always in restaurants but you never knew they were there until they got up to leave. It is very frustrating for Mom to keep us somewhat “social” because we can’t go anywhere but the pet stores, so for us it has not become something new rather than a habit. Honestly, though, most dogs don’t bother us as much as kids. If there were more kid free places it would be nice because they really drive Mom crazy with their lack of manners and parents seem to be oblivious, and think they are cute which we do not. They behave just like the unsocialized dogs in public.

    • I agree with your Mom, Emma. I’d rather share a restaurant with quiet dogs than a bunch of screaming children. Parents of human children can be just as irresponsible as some of those dog lovers.

    • We also had a tough time finding socialization opportunities for Honey. Especially since her socialization window happened in early spring when most outdoor dining and other activities weren’t open to us.

      We drove over an hour to a pet expo so we could walk around for half an hour with Honey to give her a new experience.

      I do believe the lack of pet-friendly opportunities in the U.S. is a major contributor to reactivity. And when I read the book Ella in Europe, the author found that his dog who snarked at other dogs at home in California was fine being close to other dogs all over Europe.


  6. I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately so many dog owners are in denial about how their dogs are received in public. I think the rationale is I love my dog, so everyone else must love my dog too! Wrong.

    • Yep. That’s why empathy is probably the most important trait we can develop in ourselves. It would make all of life more pleasant.

  7. See, a lot of those folks you talk about? I don’t think they love dogs at all. I think they love and are completely absorbed by their own selves too much to notice or care that they’re disrespecting (sometimes endangering!) their dog let alone other people. (Wow, Jan would shred me for that run-on sentence…)

    You’re right of course about people who say they hate dogs really often just hating irresponsible dog owners. We do need to figure out how to reach and teach those owners but doing so in a positive, non-judgmental way can be difficult.

    • Yes, I’m with you on that. So many people who claim to love dogs don’t bother trying to understand them at all.

      I tried to explore the idea once: http://www.somethingwagging.com/do-you-just-love-dogs-or-do-you-respect-them/. Not sure I quite got all the way there.

      As for teaching irresponsible dog owners–I’m not sure there is anything better than leading by example. We’ve all had to get here somehow. And I blush to think of some of horrible things I’ve done as an ignorant dog person.

  8. I agree totally, that list of people piss me off too.

  9. I agree completely. All it takes are few very rude people who ruin it for everyone else. I stopped taking my dog to the park due to others who could not or refused to control their dogs. Thanks for venting my feelings.

  10. Great post. I completely agree. It’s akin to people saying “boys will be boys…deal with it” about their kids.

    • But finding that line of where to complain and when to shut up is so hard, isn’t it?

      A dog barking out the window at the mailman – dogs will be dogs. Dogs barking all afternoon–rude.

      Kinds screaming on the playground–kids will be kids. Kids screaming in a restaurant–rude.

      And even the rude situations may have something else going on–a newly adopted dog who needs training, a child who is autistic.

      Despite this particular post, I’m trying to be more zen about all of it. Guess I’m not doing so well, huh? :)

  11. Oh yes, with dogs and children strict adherence to rules, policies and polite behavior enforced by owners (for dogs) and parents is so necessary for them to be happily accepted in public. It is one thing, however, if my friend’s autistic child has a meltdown in public -those are not always foreseeable/preventable my dog however is on strict control unless his manners are totally impeccable and even then all laws and rules are going to be obeyed.

    • Good point, Carol, about some things being outside our control. In truth, children sometimes have tantrums. And they’re not always over-indulged kids. Sometimes, like in the case of autism, their brains are just wired to get overstimulated.

      And reactive dogs can have bad days too.

      So while we should be expecting and encouraging polite behavior all the time, we also need to be generous when things go wrong. Life is sometimes messy.

      Good point.

  12. What a great list! I have to admit that while I have only taken my dogs to hotels twice, I didn’t take sheets with me. I did, however, tip appropriately for the fur on the floor. I will remember the sheet tip for next time though, or I may just bring a cover for the bed as they don’t sleep under the covers :)

    Have a great weekend!

    • Actually, I was just looking at some old photos to print and I saw my first hotel stay with my dog. I totally had a blanket covering the bed! I guess I was more considerate than I thought haha!

  13. Vlad & Barkly's Dee says:

    Around here, we’ve got a lot of businesses that keep treats for dogs at the drive-ups. We can’t take our dogs in, but they recognize our love for them when they’re with us. I get irritated as all get out when I see dogs carried into businesses that haven’t posted the “No Dogs” sign. They’re not supposed to be inside of businesses that sell food, but they’re there anyway. (Hello, Walgreens dogs! Just because they have dog treats at the drive-up doesn’t mean your dog belongs INSIDE the store!) Now don’t get me wrong, our dogs are on limited vaccine schedules, but, honestly, I don’t know YOUR dogs have been protected against zoonotic diseases AT ALL. I don’t know what kind of veterinary care your dogs get, and it DOES matter for the lives of some of us if you’re going to carry your dog around everywhere. And is Walgreens disinfecting the cart that you just carried your dog around in while it rubbed its anus all over it? So, why do these people think that people with compromised immune systems want to be around their dogs–especially when they’re getting prescriptions filled and are grabbing a snack because they haven’t gotten to eat all morning in the Dr’s offices? Just another way that IRRESPONSIBLE “dog people” irritate me. Of all places, the drug stores are the places that irk me the most.

    • Treats at the drive-through is one of the biggest reasons Honey misses us having a car. :(

      Have you thought about getting cards printed up asking “who’s going to disinfect that cart that your dog rubbed his anus all over?” :) But they’d probably dismiss you as a dog hater instead of a responsible dog lover.

  14. I think you’re right on all counts. Some of us are responsible dog owners and some are not. I think it’s sad that we can’t bring our well-behaved dogs so many places, but I don’t see how it could change. The best we can do is continue to be responsible, set good examples for other pet owners and spread the word on how important it is to train your dog and know his or her limits. Sometimes it’s willful ignorance, and sometimes people just don’t realize how rude they are.

    –Woofs (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats.

    • A lot of my frustration comes from living in a town where dogs aren’t even allowed outdoors in many places.

      For example, our outdoor pedestrian mall, the park on Cayuga Lake, and several regular down town parks have no dog signs. Why?

      I’m waging my own campaign to make my town more pet-friendly. When I owned a car, it wasn’t as big a deal. I could just drive somewhere else with Honey. But car-free, I’m limited to a smaller area. And it’s frustrating to think that fears of irresponsible dog owners are keeping so many outdoor activities off limits to us.

  15. I agree with you 100%, Pamela! There are also the pet owners who refuse to clean up after their dogs on their own property. The neighbor’s previous dog was banished to a pen in the very back of the yard. There were times when I’d go back there with one — or both — of my dogs to retrieve a ball or cleanup after them and the stench from poop in the pen was overwhelming. And the poor dog had no place other than his igloo to lay down without laying in his own poop. I really felt bad for the poor dog. But back then, AC wouldn’t do anything about it as long as the dog had access to water.

    • Oh, that poor dog. And shame on your animal control department. They certainly didn’t have the best interest of animals at heart.

      • Thankfully, AC has made vast improvements since then. Unfortunately, one afternoon the poor dog was hit over the head with a pipe or tree branch or some other heavy object that damaged his skull. Though he survived the attack, he had to be put to sleep a few days later. Maybe it was a blessing, but it was a cruel way of delivering it.

  16. Dog Diva says:

    If I have control over my dogs in public – they have a proper recall and are leashed in areas where the law requires it – I expect you to control your kids, so letting them stand up on the restaurant seat and put their sticky fingers onto my hair, my collar or the back of the booth I’m sitting in is a no no, too.
    It’s not that I hate kids, but both dogs and children need to be managed in public – that’s good “parenting” no matter what species we are talking about. The name of the game is being considerate of others, regardless of their opinions about your dogs or your kids;-)

    • OMD, wouldn’t everything in life go much easier if “the name of the game is being considerate of others?”

      Well put.

  17. Mom and I couldn’t agree with you more! (In fact, mom has written on this same topic – how to keep places dog-friendly by not letting your dog bother others.) On our walk today we saw: 1) a young boy walking a large dog using a Flexi-leash meant for a very small dog; 2) so much un-scooped poop we could have filled a large garbage bag; 3) two dogs with an invisible fence harass everyone who walked by, including us. Earlier in the day, we were driving and saw a woman letting her dog poop — in someone’s front yard! — and not picking it up. Mom and dad think it’s very important to be considerate of others, so they don’t let me bother other people.

    • Ugh. I feel very lucky that unscooped poop and invisible fences are almost unheard of in my town.

      But those flexi-leashes make me crazy. When we see children using one with a big dog, we quickly turn in a different direction. We don’t want anyone to get hurt if their dog gets overexcited by Honey.

      And Garth, you are a very polite dog. I can’t imagine anyone objecting to you.

  18. Well said. The “fake” service dog thing really pisses me off, probably more so than anything else. I am not even remotely connected to the SD community, but it still irritates me.

    • Yes, it has so much potential to harm people who really need service dogs.

      And perhaps some of the people using these “registries” need a service dog too. But they should go through proper channels and get training for their dogs.

  19. Oh man, I HEAR YOU. I think I have a general issue with inconsiderate people in general. They’re the worst.

    • http://youtu.be/CJXejD_FEXs – this says it all.

      More specifically, our car share website has a form where drivers can complain about the condition a car is left in. On the drop down menu are two items: cigarette smoke and dog hair.

      Funny, I’ve never experienced either in a car. But I’ve cleaned out straw, wood chips, and more half empty coffee cups than I can count. Where did people get the idea that dog owners are the most inconsiderate? My vote is for the coffee drinkers. :p

  20. I’m totally with you.

    I think those folks are not dog lovers. I think those people are narcissists who use dogs to feed their own egos.

    • Yep, there’s a big difference between people who love, try to understand, and want what’s best for their dogs and people who just want a fuzzy something to amuse them and keep them company.

      Yes, the dogs are missing out. But sadly, so are their people. They have no idea how much of a deeper relationship they’re missing.

  21. I can see myself in all the examples you listed of people you hate. Before I started my blog, I walked our dogs off leash (no recall), I didn’t pick up after them if they went in tall grass, if I could have, I would have taken them into stores and restaurants, but just didn’t go that far – but I bet if I had purse dogs, I would have in a minute.

    I have to constantly remind myself of where I was 4 years ago; I was so completely ignorant about dogs and dog ownership. For some people all of this may seem like common sense, but it wasn’t for me (and many of my friends) when we got Rodrigo and Sydney. So I bet tons of people hated me.

    It was thanks to people who were nice enough to share how my actions where impacting them that I stopped being defensive about all the dog haters out there and started realizing that maybe I was wrong. Then being on the other side quickly brought it all home.

    Even with the faux service dog sites; I would have totally did that 4 years ago if I knew they existed. Today, I’ve met so many people with service dogs and have heard them explain what they went through to get their dog and how their life has changed, that I would never disrespect them by falsely registering my dogs. But others will because they just don’t understand.

    The biggest problem I see is that everyone thinks that it’s no big deal if they do or don’t do something; what they’re not appreciating is that it’s not just them. There are trails that I won’t walk on because of the dog poop. Places I won’t go, because of the number of leashless dogs (and these aren’t dog parks), and it goes on and on.

    Sorry for the super long comment, but this is a great post and really hit home with me. A great reminder of what an ass I was.

    • I was like that, too, when I was in my 20s (back in the 1980s) with my first dog I had when I was an adult. There weren’t leash laws where I lived at the time, though. But I did a lot of the things listed in this post. I was always yelling “She’s friendly” (she was, but I get it now) as my dopey black lab would charge up to someone at high speed.

  22. I think humans are more rude and inconsiderate in general, and inconsiderate dog owners/dog lovers are just one segment of a completely inconsiderate society. When I go to the grocery store, I am always amazed at how many people are absolutely oblivious to the other shoppers around them as they talk on cell phones about inappropriate, personal issues while blocking the aisle; or, worse, just block the aisle and don’t even THINK that someone else is trying to get by. Or in traffic, people are absolutely inconsiderate. I have always been a very considerate person, a communitarian, like you said. I feel as though I am a dying breed!! The majority of strangers I encounter into in public situations these days are rude and inconsiderate. That doesn’t even begin to touch on how people act online and on social media :)

  23. Charleston says:

    I agree with most of what you said especially since im trying to work with my new little rescue dacshund who is leash reactive. My biggest pet peeve though is ‘free range’ cats. The laws are that NO animals are allowed to run wild, yet cat owners dont seem to think these rules apply, so if my dog harrasses your cat, tough! Abide by the laws and your cat wont get harrassed. Im certaining following the rules! I HATE cat owners who let their cats run free.

  24. Humans…sigh! We certainly don’t live in what I’d call a dog-friendly city. If things work out, we will have our first dog park. I hope the humans control their dogs but I’m sure there will be bullies. Letting dogs run loose or sit on your lap while driving are my two biggest pet peeves. Thanks for sharing : )

  25. I agree so much! A couple weeks ago I started writing a rant about this, but then let it sit. I think sometimes we pet owners expect people to just deal.

    But you do it much better than I do. So, so much better. Sigh.

    Christie Zizo from lifewithbeagle.com

  26. Your posts are always so thoughtful. There was a time in my life when it never occurred to me that some people don’t love dogs as much as I do do. Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot since then. I hope I am a better dog person now, and am setting a good example.

  27. I agree with you- the other day I came across a couple using a service dog. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but later I got to thinking- the dog wasn’t in the usual orderly and clean manner. Yes, the dog had a vest on, but the service dog logo wasn’t obvious and it was in disarray- most service dogs I’ve seen, are very clean and the vest is obvious. I’m thinking the dog wasn’t really a service dog. I’d like to take Noah everywhere I go too but he isn’t certified and I certainly would NOT want cause a problem for someone who truly needs the service. And, two of my pet peeves are the people who walk their dog glued to their electronic device paying no attention to your approach. So, their dog is usually not very approachable. The other are the people who do not pick up after their dog!

  28. Oh my goodness, you hit the nail on the HEAD, Pamela! We’d have a lot more freedom to include our dogs if it wasn’t for these inconsiderate and irresponsible “dog lovers.” Wouldn’t a true dog lover want to do everything they can to make the lives of all dogs better? That means taking the extra step to be sure you and your dog are not infringing on the rights of other people – to walk their dogs without being assaulted by an off-leash dog, to not step in dog waste, to not be disrupted at a pet friendly restaurant. The “dog lovers” you’re writing about aren’t doing a service to any dogs – including their own.

  29. I completely agree, they don’t realise that people will see an inconsiderate ass they will see the dog, and so they generalise and have all dogs!! Why can’t these people see they are doing more harm??!

  30. I agree with your list. People who don’t pick up after their dogs are my biggest pet peeve. That, and the weird people who pick it up… bag it… and then drop it. And clearly have no intention of picking it up ‘on their way back at the end of the walk’, because I’ll regularly see it for a few days in a row. UGH!
    Gwynn loves it when he’s allowed in stores – just LOVES it. But even if there’s no ‘no dogs’ sign on the door, I generally send whoever I’m with in first to ask if it’s ok – because that gives the employees a chance to say, ‘nope, i’m afraid of dogs (or whatever other reason)’.
    I’ll admit, I do walk Gwynn off-leash in parks, but he goes back on if we see dogless people, people with dogs on-leash, or people with dogs on- or off-leash and children. I make the assumption that everyone without a dog off-leash dislikes my dog, and figure that at least avoids making me a dog-asshole.

  31. So much agreement here!
    I characterize these owners into 2 groups:
    1. The rude. They know what they’re doing and don’t care because they “love dogs” – the picking up poop thing you mentioned is a great example. They knowingly break rules because they want to, which ruins things for everyone else.
    2. The ignorant. They don’t know any better, but also don’t make efforts to. Flexi-leash users often fall into this category because they buy the marketing hype (“oh, it gives my dog more freedome on walks, freedom is a good thing! I shall buy this and use it exclusively.”)

    People who self-identify as “dog lovers” bother me the most when they use “it’s okay, I LOVE dogs” to grope my dogs without permission or without even asking. Drives me bananas.

  32. These people are definitely dog lovers. When you own a dog, he must fulfill your responsibility as an owner. Its so damn annoying x(

  33. Every time I see poop that an owner decided they didn’t need to pick up on a sidewalk, or someone’s yard I get angry. These are the people that ruin it for the rest of us. Nice post Pamela!!