Imagine this scenario:

You are walking with your dog off leash at the neighborhood park where people frequently exercise their dogs. You see a dog on leash up ahead. You wave to the owner and say, “My dog is friendly!” as your dog rushes up to greet the other dog. You hear the other owner yell something, but you can’t hear what he says. When your dog reaches the other dog, it growls and snaps out of nowhere, lashing out towards your dog. You run in to break up the scuffle. The other dog’s owner seems upset with you! Unbelievable!

Now imagine this scenario:

You are walking your dog on a leash at a local green space when you see an off-leash dog and owner. You cringe; ever since your dog was attacked at the dog park about a month ago, she has seemed really nervous around other dogs, and the trainer you are working with has recommended keeping her separate from other dogs until you have more time to help her become more comfortable through training. The other dog starts sprinting up to you. You try to yell, “Please call your dog!” but the dog keeps running at you. The results are what you were afraid of: as the other dog rushes in, your dog is growling at the other dog and trying to bite it. You frantically try to keep them apart. When the other owner finally catches up to his dog to get it under control, he acts like nothing is wrong. Unbelievable!


This is a dino, but this article is about D.I.N.O.S.

Did you catch that these two scenarios are the same sequence played out from two different perspectives? If so, great job! Oftentimes misunderstandings between dog owners occur because of a lack of perspective about other dogs and their needs. The first scenario is from the perspective of a well-meaning but somewhat clueless dog owner. The second perspective is from the owner of a DOG IN NEED OF SPACE.


Well, dinosaurs are, but in this case, DINOS are DOG(s) IN NEED OF SPACE.

There are many reasons why a dog might need some extra space:

-The dog may be ill or recovering from injury.

-The dog may be afraid of other dogs—your dog may scare it. By allowing your dog to go up to this dog, you may set the dog back in training or socialization, or risk fear-based aggression towards your dog.

-The dog may be aggressive—some dogs just don’t like other dogs. If you allow your off-leash dog to approach such a dog, you may actually be at fault for injuries that occur because your dog was not under your control.

suspicious lab

A dog may “look friendly,” but it may or may not want to meet you and your pup!

I have heard some owners say “I know not all other dogs are friendly, but I like having my dog off leash, and I will take that risk with my own dog.” Please consider the risks you are forcing upon the other owner and the other dog; if a dog bite occurs, it may be reported, the dog may be euthanized, the owner may have insurance issues because of the incident your dog caused, and one or both parties may have to pay money in terms of medical bills, litigation, etc. Please allow other owners to choose whether to meet your dog as opposed to making the choice for them.

Keep in mind that the concept of a Dog In Need Of Space does not only apply to dogs who have issues with other dogs. Some dogs have issues with kids, tall people, women wearing hats, men with beards…the list goes on and on. Some owners of DINOS choose to indicate their status with a yellow ribbon or a yellow vest, but this is not universally true.

So, if any unknown dogs could be DINOS, what can you do to keep everyone safe?


1) Know the laws in your city. In many cities, dogs can only be off leash on your property or in a dog park and a 6 foot (or shorter) leash is required in public. Off leash dogs can be cited and fined.

2) If you are going off leash, do not do so unless your dog is under your voice command. This does not mean your dog comes some of the time, or most of the time. It means your dog is reliable pretty much ALL of the time. This is for the safety of your dog and others.

3) If you see another dog while walking off leash with your pup, ask your dog to come or heel. Leash your dog, or, if your dog is extremely well trained, ask it to remain in a heel next to you and away from the other dog. Keep your dog under your control, ideally at least 6 feet away from other dog. Do not allow your dog to rush up to the other dog without asking the other owner for permission first.

4) Ask the other owner if it’s OK for your dogs to meet. If the other owner clearly indicates they would like the dogs to meet, feel free to do so if your best judgment indicates that this is a good idea. If dogs are meeting on leash, one rule of thumb is that two dogs greeting on loose (rather than tight) leashes are more likely to have a relaxing and successful meet.


Thanks for asking; pleased to meet you!

5) This etiquette not only applies to dogs meeting dogs. Some humans also don’t like dogs. Before allowing your dog to rush up to another person, it is best to ask first. Also, as a human, you should also ask if it’s OK before petting a strange dog so the owner has a chance to decline if their dog needs some space. Finally, is a great practice to teach children that they need to ask a dog owner before petting a dog, and that it’s not OK to pet dogs who are unattended.

DINOS are not “bad dogs” and we should not assume their owners are “bad owners.” Different dogs may have different space requirements over the course of their lives as a result of genetics and environmental circumstances. At Wiggles and Woofs, we are experienced at working with DINOS, and they make great candidates for private walks!

For more information about DINOS, check out the Yellow Dog Project on Facebook or this official page for DINOS.

Thanks for keeping the DINOS happy! Your consideration will be greatly appreciated by both dogs and people!

Thanks for reading!

Thank you to for the adorable dog photos!

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended to provide professional dog training advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote understanding and knowledge of various pet-related topics. 

2 thoughts on “DO YOU KNOW ABOUT DINOS?

  1. Written by Connie Packard Kamedulski. says:

    I was out walking my *on-leash* puppy that weighs all of 15 lbs in an *on-leash* park. All of our parks are *on-leash*. We saw, up ahead, a black lab, maybe 60 lbs. On leash. When the owner saw us, he unclipped his dog and sent him down the trail to say Hi. I will not have my puppy ruined by allowing an ill-mannered mutt run up in his face. (He is in training for a competitive dog sport career — and the last thing I need is for him to have a bad experience with a larger black dog.) Have to say I was not very polite to the other dog’s owner.


    • Jen Gumas says:

      Sorry you had this experience! I think other owners mean well but sometimes really lack perspective about how to do proper on-leash greetings (like asking first!) Hope your puppy was able to move past the encounter OK without any lingering phobias or fears.


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