If you like me (who is a very proud uncle of two gorgeous nieces that I was just fixing dinner for) would be horrified and probably sternly ask the person to back away thanks very much, why is it then that it seems part and parcel of life in the western world that strangers think it ok to go and touch dogs they do not know.
I teach everyone I deal with that the human with the dog is responsible for that dog and it is up to them who may touch or interact with their dog, just like it is to duty of a parent to ensure the same protection and leadership for their child. There are many reasons I hold this view and the most important one is that of safety.
If you do not know a dog you do need to avoid contact, after all you have no idea what that dogs history is, or its current situation, it can not tell you it has a terrible migraine and will bite you if you 'pat' its head roughly to ensure you stop....because you missed all the indications that it was inappropriate to do so. A dog may be fearful of a person of your sex, or ethnicity, or even you clothing choice and have only one option to convey that message to you if you force yourself into its space. Also whilst it may be fun for you to encourage a strangers puppy to jump up so you can pat it and make excitable noises so it looks as if you have a 'way' with dogs, but all you have done is help teach that puppy that if it sees a stranger to get excited and jump up....not so good in 9 months time when that 'puppy' is now a 40kg Great Dane X who knocks over a little old lady minding her own business and breaks a hip, spedning the next months praying that she may get her freedom back.
I used to train dogs in the Williamstown precinct in Melbourne to acclimatise dogs to an urban environment, I chose it as it had little pedestrian and car traffic in comparison to the other areas of the city, however when I would get to the end of my training sessions and train dogs to be calm and content for their owners at street cafes and around children's play equipment I would get any number of careless people who would ignore me and just start playing with the dog in training or try and get it excited...to show their 'way' with dogs.
It was very frustrating for me as it would undo much of the calm training I had worked so hard to instill in the dog, so I began wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with 'DON"T PAT THE DOG', it made no difference, people would be patting the dog and read my shirt and say, 'cool band name ..are they new'? or whilst patting away, 'oh, is this dog in training....'.
Now I am much more proactive and say to people when they are approaching 'please don't approach this dog', accompanied with a dramatic facial expression...it does the trick. However many people can appear from anywhere and leap upon your dog when you are not looking, this happened so many times with my little kelpie Rosie as I had her everywhere with me in the east coast cities, either playing sports or having her help me with my fitness routines on the Bondi to Bronte run. Luckily she learned over time to ignore any people who would squeal and leap toward her. It is this training that all dog owners seemed forced to do due to the fact there are so many people in our community who disripect the boundaries of other people and their dogs.
So please think of people with thier dogs the same way you do as people with their children...it is not appropriate to just ignore the owner and start touching their dog... Always ask if it is ok...and respect their reply.