I have boundaries. Do you?

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, May 30, 2023
stonnie Dennis.jpg
Stonnie Dennis

I hope you enjoyed your three day weekend, Jody

Today, I want to address a very polarized topic in dog training among even very prominent dog trainers.

Some trainers are adamant that a puppy should meet and greet hundreds of different types of people and strange dogs throughout training.

Other trainers are equally adamant that a puppy should NOT meet and greet hundreds of different types of people and strange dogs throughout training.

Who is right?

Meet Stonnie Dennis, a prominent dog trainer who invented the Montessori method of dog training, where dogs learn by doing, especially in groups.

I love Stonnie’s no nonsense approach to dog training.

He is straightforward and honest.

He trains dogs with fairness and respect.

Stonnie Dennis is one of the greats, in my opinion.

In his training approach, he asks dogs to be well-mannered and ready to learn.

He allows dogs to be themselves, enjoying freedom, as long as they understand a few vocabulary words: come, let’s go, up, easy, wait, and stay.

I generally recommend Stonnie Dennis’s training methods.

Well, just about two weeks ago, Stonnie posted a video on “Why You Should Encourage People to Pet Your Dog in Public”.

Click the link to see the video:


In this video he presents the following agruments for why you want to allow people to pet your dog:

  1. You come across as unfriendly when you say “no” to people who ask to pet your dog.
  2. You buy a dog in order to have awesome experiences, which includes strangers coming up to admire and pet your dog.
  3. Being in public means interacting socially with people, which your dog should be able to do.

His video highlights an important question about dog ownership.

Did you buy your dog for you and your family or did you buy your dog for other people?

Let me be plain.

If you want a friendly, outgoing dog that loves everybody equally, you do NOT want an American Dirus.

Sorry folks.

There are already a multitude of dog breeds out there that have a confident, outgoing personality.

Stonnie’s favorite breed, the black Labrador Retriever, is a great example.

There is no need to create a new breed of dog that acts like a black Lab because the black Lab already exists.

The American Dirus dog is NOT a happy-go-lucky, loves everybody, friendly, outgoing dog breed.

If that is what you hope for in your next puppy, I would recommend a different breed of dog for your family.

What Lois found through her work in the 1980s was that an energetic, active-minded, outgoing dog breed was too much to handle for the average family… especially living in the city.

That type of dog develops problems in the home when not exercised and worked properly. Many busy, modern families don’t have the training skills required to work with a dog like that.

Instead, a calm dog with a bonded personality that pays attention to their family fit perfectly into a busy, modern lifestyle.

But… as a result of this special large breed companion dog personality, the training requirements had to shift.

American Dirus dogs require a specific approach to confidence building as puppies.

An outgoing, friendly dog can tolerate meeting a significant number of people.

A bonded, discriminating dog breed knows the difference between family members and strangers.

Both personality types can be well-mannered and well-socialized adults accepting of friendly touch.


You cannot expect to train them in the same manner and receive the same results.

So, let me end with this:

Here are my arguments for why you do NOT want to allow people to pet your American Dirus dog-in-training:

  1. Your puppy is in training. It is not rude to explain this to a stranger. If the stranger truly wants to help you, the person can remain neutral toward your puppy. Then your dog can approach if it wants. Never force your dog to interact with a stranger.
  2. You buy a dog to have awesome experiences with you and your family. All types of well-mannered dogs should be welcomed in public. This includes dogs that aren’t interested in meeting and greeting everybody who walks by. Do you want to get stopped and hugged by thirty strangers while you are on a walk? That’s not my idea of walking in the park. It isn’t necessary to be pet by every stranger just because he/she wants to say hello.
  3. I agree that being in public is a social event, which your American Dirus dog should be able to navigate without fear as an adult. However, this takes appropriate socialization training… which includes NOT interacting with hundreds of strangers too early in your puppy’s life. The first step is to maintain an adequate level of confidence within your puppy’s demeanor. Since you cannot control a stranger’s behavior toward your puppy, you cannot know each interaction will be a productive one. Set up each situation on purpose to make sure your puppy maintains its confidence, never loses it.

    The more confidence your puppy shows, the more socialized it will be.
    The more nervousness your puppy shows, the less socialized it will be.

Remember this:
Not every dog is outgoing, just as with people. But, every dog should be respectful and well-mannered with people whether at home or in public.

It is up to you to help shape and guide your puppy. Do not ever allow another person’s dog bias or expectations to sway you from what is right for your dog.

PS: It is always okay to say no.

Remember: If you want to begin the journey toward American Dirus ownership, the first step is to complete the puppy adoption questionnaire so that we can get to know you better.

Click the link below for the application:


And if you have been approved, placed your deposit, and are ready for a puppy, let us know.

You have until June 6th to reply to this email to tell us you wish to go active for the most current Genius Litter.

Here is the link to the official Dire Wolf Project waiting list:


Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.