Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

It’s All About Your Dog’s Personal Space

DEAR NATALIE: What is the appropriate way to address someone else's dog in public? Is it appropriate to pet without asking? How about picking the dog up? How about some stranger kissing my dog on the mouth?!?! -- French Kissing My Frenchie

DEAR FRENCH KISSING MY FRENCHIE: May I start by saying, "Ew." Once again, why anyone would think it is OK to pet your dog, pick up your dog or make out with your dog without your consent (and no one is going to consent to French kissing, anyway) is beyond me. Your dog (or any pet) is a family member. I completely understand your disgust and frustration. Once again, people forget themselves when around too much cuteness. Any time I see an adorable dog in public, I often will say, "Your dog is so cute! May I pet him or her?" Sometimes people say "Yes." Sometimes they say "No." But the important thing to note here is that I ask for permission. What if your dog would have freaked out at this overzealous stranger and nipped a nose or a lip when he or she went to kiss them? Somehow you would have been to blame for this. So, if for no other reason than trying to prevent a future lawsuit, the next time someone wants to pet your pooch, just simply say, "Frenchie is uncomfortable around new people, so I would prefer you just look and do not touch." You also may want to keep your dog on a short leash when you are walking in public so it is easy to quickly scoop it up if need be. 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: It's all about the follow-up. After you have made a contact and invited that person to meet for coffee or tea, make sure to send him or her a friendly follow-up email or handwritten note after you meet. Thank him or her for spending time with you and plan your next meeting (if applicable). If the meeting wasn't as fruitful as you hoped it to be, still be polite but vague as to when you will see each other again. Never burn bridges. 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)