Boogie is a DINOS (“Dogs In Need of Space”)

December 3, 2011 at 5:17 am 17 comments

I read an awesome and much needed blog article today! –>  “My Dog Is Friendly!” A Public Service Announcement

 *Update: DINOS/DOGS IN NEED OF SPACE is trademarked. Please refer to the new version of the poster >  “SPACE ETIQUETTE FOR DOGS” if you wish to download and share.


I cannot tell you how many times Boogie and I have been approached (or even CHASED) by dogs whose super enthusiastic owners call out: “My dog is friendly!”  Or have MIDFs roll their eyes at me when they insist that their dog is friendly.

Take for example, yesterday at the vet’s office when a lady and her large-sized dog walked in. “My dog is friendly!” she said.

I had Boogie  on my lap, in my arms, and I replied “My dog isn’t”. We remained on opposite sides of the waiting room and there were no incidents. Her dog was laying down turned away; Boogie was at my feet hypnotizing me to take him home.

Several minutes later when the lady wasn’t paying attention and I was busy talking to the vet tech, the dog walked on over and nosed Boogie in the butt. Boogie, who was facing the other way unaware that there was a dog approaching him,  freaked out, turned around and snarled. The dog’s owner called out –  “Sorry! I wasn’t looking”  She pulled her dog away, then said in a very loud high-pitched voice so that the whole room could hear:  “Mommy loves you very much! Even if the other dog doesn’t love you, mommy loves you!”

I tried to explain that Boogie reacted because he was startled by her dog. Another lady in the waiting room offered  some moral support – “The dogs weren’t formally introduced”.

Well,  it was still awkward to be the only person in the room with a growly dog. Suddenly Boogie was made to look like an asshole.

And then there are the MDIFs who – even after I tell them that my dog ISN’T friendly – continue to believe that everything will be OK because their dog is “friendly” or is “good with dogs”. Or that they themselves are god’s gift to dogs, all dogs love them, and I’m just uptight or something.

Sure, Boogie is a sweet and friendly dog, but he is sensitive, extremely discriminating and does not instantly become friends with every dog and person that he meets. Boogie needs some space and time away from the new person/dog at first. If the person/dog is large, he needs even MORE space to make up his mind.

For a long time, before I saw the Turid Rugaas DVD and learned about BAT,  I had no idea that when dogs reacted it was because they needed SPACE (or distance from the trigger). Space, as a functional reward and training tool is so underrated!  I don’t think a lot of people know this. And MDIFs especially, need to know this.

More links:

This DINOS Manifesto  which inspired the illustration above.

The DINOS facebook page.

P.S.  People with DINOS, I recommend Grisha Stewart’s BAT book and BAT DVD (blog review coming later) with my illustrations <— If you order via these links, I get a % of sales. 🙂

P.P.S. This is another really good article – Misreading Dogs.

Entry filed under: Articles, links, Books & DVDs, Reads, Social stuff, Training.

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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Fanny  |  December 3, 2011 at 10:54 am

    great illustration! It’s been happening to us too.. so annoying! would it be ok if I posted this illustration on my pugs blog and linked back to boogies blog?

    • 2. lili  |  December 3, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      Absolutely! Thank you, Fanny.

  • 3. pawsnmotion  |  December 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    As part of my training of clients, we role play what they should do if an otherwise friendly but pushy dog (or owner or child) approaches them and their dog, on or off leash. The instruction is to take charge of the situation, physically insert themselves between their dog and the other dog (presumably after asking the owner of the dog to please get their dog) and BEFORE the dog makes contact with them or their dog, then be as big and loud as necessary. For me, it’s usually holding up a hand at the dog (in a stop/stay) motion, and saying in a very loud, commanding, authoritative if not somewhat intimidating tone “BACK!” Usually, even if the dog isn’t so responsive, this type of reaction gets the OWNER’S attention and even if they think I’m a jerk, at least at that point they’re taking me seriously and it usually jolts them into reality enough for them to start to make an effort to get their dog under control. I’ve also toyed with the idea, especially if it’s a friendly dog, of pulling a spare leash out of my pocket, placing it on the dog, and starting to walk away with it, especially if the owner is a distance away/not being attentive and the dog is off-leash. “Oh, it makes you uncomfortable that I’ve taken control of your dog? Well, it makes ME uncomfortable to be charged by your dog…so I guess we’re even.”

    • 4. lili  |  December 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      Pawsnmotion – that’s a very forceful response and I don’t know if I could do that…. though I think I err on the side of over-politeness and am always apologizing for my dog when I should be telling it like it is!

  • 5. EmilyS  |  December 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    awesome fantastic poster! I just posted on DINO’s FB page.. you need to get together to promote this.

    • 6. lili  |  December 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      🙂 I did that too!

  • […] created this fabulous illustrated version of our message! You can see the original post on her blog here. Many of you have contacted me to see if there are t-shirts and other merchandise available for […]

  • 8. The WriggleButts  |  December 4, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Love it! Will be sharing your illustration and the link to the original post on my blog tomorrow.

    • 9. lili  |  December 5, 2011 at 1:20 am


  • 10. Alexis Bywater  |  December 5, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I just wanted to thank you so much for this blog. I’ve read a long way back – back to the time when you were still using the prong collar. I have a reactive dog too and I, too, started with a prong and have changed to using LAT and BAT and those techniques have been SO MUCH MORE effective, it’s mind boggling. Thank you so much for sharing your journey!! Also, I love the photos and drawings of Boogie and I love that he’s your muse. 🙂

    • 11. lili  |  January 21, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      Hi Alexis, thank you so much for this comment! I can’t tell you how nice it is to hear from someone who has also changed training techniques and found them to be so much more effective. Do you have a blog for your dog?

  • 13. yuki and rocket  |  December 13, 2011 at 3:57 am

    I’m so glad I was introduced to your blog by another blogging bud, because this is exactly how my two schnauzers are. There are so many blogs, but rarely does anyone talk about behavior problems. I was beginning to think my two were the only pups who weren’t perfect angels! love, love, love this illustration and boy it’s so true!

    • 14. lili  |  January 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      thank you, Yuki and Rocket. I know what you mean… most doggie blogs are about PERFECT dogs 🙂 My Boogie is a handful, and this blog is all about his issues 🙂

  • 15. oreoowner  |  December 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I agree!!! What a great post-my dog is reactive also and we’ve been working very hard with a trainer and at home. She finally can greet some dogs, sometimes, but is still startled when they surprise her. People just don’t think….or don’t know. Your blog is awesome and gives support to everyone else with dogs who are “sensitive”

    • 16. lili  |  January 21, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      Hi oreoowner, Before I adopted Boogie I never knew that dogs could be so sensitive. I hope people learn to be more respectful as a result of more public sharing/education on the internet…

  • 17. Dog-friendly people « Boogie’s blog  |  April 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    […] is nervous and might bite you”. Not all human beings listen and understand. Perhaps we need a Space Etiquette type poster for human beings, […]


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