Well howdy there DINOS reader! If you’re here, you must have a question. Take a look at this list of Frequently Asked Questions and, if all your burning questions about Dogs in Need of Space still aren’t answered, then shoot me an email!

What’s the story behind DINOS? 

The term DINOS was coined in the 2011 Notes from a Dog Walker blog “My Dog is Friendly!” and that blog post went viral. It was written by a dog walker who totally gets that DINOS are good dogs, they just need a little space. A Facebook page was born and then this website.  And here you are!

Many of the articles found on this website were originally published on the Notes from a Dog Walker blog written by Jessica Dolce. 

Does DINOS have a mission?

You bet! The term DINOS: Dogs in Need of Space was created to help the public understand this:

All dogs have a need for and a right to their own personal space. Some dogs have a stronger need for personal space then others. Dogs like this.

DINOS helps to bust the common misconception and unrealistic expectation that dogs can and should tolerate the actions of other dogs and people at all times, under any conditions. Dogs aren’t robots. It’s perfectly normal for dogs to have varying tolerance levels for other animals and unfamiliar people. Humans don’t like everyone they meet. And we certainly don’t like rude, uninvited attention (especially when our personal boundaries are violated) and neither do dogs!

As long as they are being properly managed by their owners, dogs have a right to enjoy a leashed walk in public, even if they don’t want to say “hi” to you or your dog.

DINOS helps the public to understand that ALL dogs deserve to be treated with respect. It’s a reminder to exercise common courtesy and designed to promote responsible dog ownership.

DINOS PSA poster

What do DINOS want? 
DINOS promotes two simple steps that can help all dogs and people stay healthy and safe:

1. Always have your dogs under your full control, which includes obeying leash laws. Responsible dog ownership applies equally to all dog owners (even if your dog is friendly!).

2. Always ask permission before you, your kids, or your dogs approach an unfamiliar dog. You probably learned this back when you were a kid! If you see a dog that you or your dog wants to meet just ask: “Can I/my dog say hello?”, then wait for and respect the response.

In other words, be responsible and respectful. Simple, common sense!

Do I have to ask first at dog parks or other off leash areas? That’s crazy! 

Designated dog parks have their own rules and regulations, so it’s not quite the same as a public space with leash laws. You may not always have to ask permission before letting your dogs greet others at a dog park, but you still need to be a responsible dog owner: supervise your dog at all times, remove them from any potentially negative or dangerous interactions, and always have them under your voice control.

Great guidelines for respectful, responsible off leash etiquette can be found here. Common sense, you dig?

DINOS are a bunch of jerks and so are you! Just train your dogs already you lazy bums and stop complaining. It’s not my problem your dog needs special treatment. Stay home if you can’t handle it!

Ok, so that’s not a question, but I get this a lot. Here’s my answer:

Ease up amigo. Try to be understanding of our needs, because one of these days, your dog will need space too. Really.

Maybe they’ll get old and cranky. Or they’ll get attacked by an off leash dog and will fear other dogs after that. Or they’ll suddenly go blind. Or they’ll have a bad injury and need to avoid playing with other dogs so they can heal properly.

Having walked dogs for more than 15 years, I can almost guarantee that one day, even if it’s only temporary, you’ll want space for your dog too. And then you’ll feel like a big old judgmental jerk for giving us so much grief. Don’t worry, when it’s your turn, we’ll still let you join Team DINOS. We know that it’s hard to understand our needs until you’ve walked a mile in our space-needing shoes. In the meantime, keep your opinions to yourself, obey the law, control your dogs, and back off pal.

Aren’t all DINOS reactive/aggressive/vicious/anxious/dinosaurs?

Nope! All DINOS really are different. Some DINOS love other dogs, but are recovering from surgery and need space to stay healthy. Some DINOS are afraid of other dogs and need space to stay calm. Either way, they both need space. That’s the only thing that all DINOS have in common: they need space.

By calling dogs DINOS you are enabling owners to ignore their dog’s problems. Dogs that are DINOS need to be trained until they can accept whatever may happen to them out in public. Why are you making excuses for these people?

Giving folks a fun acronym to call their dogs is just that – a fun nickname. It’s not an excuse for bad behavior or a free pass to be an irresponsible dog owner and turn a blind eye to a potentially dangerous situation. If anyone has a dog with behavior or training issues or would like to better understand their dogs, there are resources to help them here on this website.

When people feel alone, isolated, and ashamed of what’s going on with their dogs (as many people who live with reactive or aggressive dogs do), I believe that they are LESS likely to reach out for help. By forming this welcoming DINOS community, I hope to encourage others to reach out for any help they may need.

And p.s. many DINOS owners are already actively engaged in training and socializing their dogs, but they still need space while they are in the process of working with their dogs (Rome wasn’t built in a day, nah’ mean?).

And I’ll say this part again: being a DINOS doesn’t mean a dog has any behavior or training issues at all. It’s not a synonym for a “problem” dog or a dog that is dangerous. It just means a dog needs space. The need for space is totally normal for any dog and very often has nothing to do with training or behavior issues.

For example, I won’t teach my old dog with painful arthritis and a busted ACL to accept having rude dogs jump her. It’s her right to tell the other dog to beat it and it’s my job to protect her from ever being put in that situation to begin with. And we’d really appreciate it if you did your part and controlled your dog. No excuses.

What’s the best training method for DINOS? How do I help my DINOS?

All DINOS are different and will need to be assessed as an individual.  If you’re looking for some good training and behavior resources, check out these resources and these classes. If your dog is having serious behavior problems, call a professional dog trainer, please.

Did DINOS create the Yellow Dog Project?  Do you promote yellow ribbons?

Nope, DINOS is not the creator of the Yellow Dog Project. DINOS is not affiliated with any yellow ribbon campaign or project. We support the good intentions of the folks behind these projects and appreciate their work to educate the public about dogs who need their space, however DINOS has a slightly different message that we’re focused on promoting at this time.

DINOS promotes responsible and respectful ownership towards and around ALL dogs. The public should have control of their dogs, obey leash laws, and ask permission first around ANY and ALL dogs. The ribbons are one of many handy communication tools, but no dog should have to wear a ribbon in order for others to be responsible, respectful, and obey leash laws. If you see a dog without a ribbon, please afford it the same respect as a “yellow dog”. In order to reduce dog bites and create public spaces that are safe for us all to enjoy, please remember that while some dogs have a stronger need for space than others, ALL dogs have a right to their personal space.

courtesy of Mitra Farmand
courtesy of Mitra Farmand

I want to tell others about DINOS to promote being responsible and respectful towards all dogs.  How do I do that?

There are these handouts to print and share. And the Ask First! poster is perfect for printing and plastering around town, including pet stores, vet offices, training centers, and trail heads! Write about responsible dog ownership on your blog. Do you work with dogs and the public? Talk to adopters, new dog owners, and dog training classes about being respectful and responsible. Teach them about polite leash manners and that dogs have a right to their personal space. Introduce these concepts early and often.

I want to bring the issue of DINOS to my town council. What should I do?

Let your town council know you’re interested in promoting responsible dog ownership and dog bite prevention in your town. Offer to give presentations that teach the public how to safely approach dogs and teach them about dog body language. Share the Ask First! poster and handout.  Take a look at your local animal control ordinances  Do you have leash laws? Are they enforced? Talk to your town officials about promoting responsible dog ownership laws that will help keep us all safe!

Can I donate to your cause?

Thank you for wanting to help, but nope! I’m an animal welfare advocate and writer with a handful of other “real” jobs too. DINOS is my passion project. I don’t collect donations. If you want to help DINOS in your community, please consider donating to your local shelter or to a training center and help them establish a scholarship fund like this one.

Can I sell products with DINOS: Dogs in Need of Space and/or your logo? Can I use DINOS: Dogs in Need of Space as a name for my business?

Nope and nope again. DINOS: Dogs in Need of Space is trademarked, which means it is not available for your commercial use. I’ve worked super hard to create DINOS  and appreciate your respectful use of the terms that define my work. The logo is not available for your use. I appreciate that you like it so much you want to use it, but I paid for that artwork and it’s a visual representation of my “brand” and work. How about coming up with your own cool kid name and graphics? Just sayin’.

Who is the weirdo behind this website? Get a life!

That would be me, Jessica Dolce. And if you have 40 minutes to kill while you give you and your dog matching pedicures, you can “meet” me in this podcast where I talk about being a dog walker and living with DINOS. You can also check out my old blog Notes From a Dog Walker and my new website focused on caregiver stress.  And you’re right, I need to do more arts and crafts.

My dog has soft poop. What do I do? 

Here’s my favorite soft serve solution (yes, I get this question a lot).

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