Originally published on ArlNow.com
This is the dog article for people who don’t like dogs, or are afraid of dogs, or just don’t want to be bothered by a dog at the moment. If you live in greater Arlington, which is very dog-friendly, navigating a walk to the Metro without coming into contact with a dog can be a challenge.
The most important thing to know if you do not want to interact with a dog is: do not make eye contact with the dog. Eye contact to a well-socialized dog is an invitation to say “Hi.” Looking up and away or past the dog, is your best bet, since that tells the dog, you are not interested in an interaction. It doesn’t guarantee the dog won’t be interested in you but it sends a clear signal that you are not interested in them.
Another effective way to deal with unwanted interaction is to stand still. This can be especially hard if you are afraid of dogs since yelling and running away are genetically pre-programmed responses to fear.
Unfortunately, yelling and running away is also a great way to get a dog to show extra interest in you. If you are in a situation where a dog is very close, standing still and looking up and away can encourage the dog to move on. Slowly moving away is also a great option.
I would also encourage people who are afraid of dogs to be a strong advocate for themselves. If a dog is approaching, clearly state to the owner of the dog that you are not interested in interacting. This can be a simple as saying, “Excuse, me, I’m afraid of dogs,” or “excuse me, please pull your dog back.” Most dog owners do not want to subject non-dog people to their pups affections either.
It is very easy for dog owners to forget that not everyone loves dogs. Dog owners need to remember that not everyone wants to say hello to your gorgeous pup and to try and remember to respect everyone’s space. Common courtesy and communication can go a long way in making sure that dog and non-dog people can all get along.