It doesn’t matter where you are from, almost everyone has some kind of feeling towards dogs. Some may love them, some may hate them, but the majority will agree – never pet a dog without the consent of an owner.
It may seem strange, but this topic has come up in my lessons more than once and with more than just one student. Students who are dog owners always have one common complaint – people touching their dogs without asking for permission first. We started wondering what is appropriate dog etiquette and whether the responsibility lies on the side of a dog owner, or a passerby. That’s when the idea for this lesson was born. A guided reading lesson followed by crafting a perfect explanation, which will stop any dog lover from petting a dog they aren’t familiar with.
This lesson is made of a presentation and a worksheet with teacher’s notes which are available to download at the end of the post.
Start the class by describing the following situation and eliciting students’ responses to it. Ask students to imagine they are walking down the street while holding a phone in their hands. Suddenly, they are approached by a complete stranger who touches their phone for a minute or two and then walks away without saying a word. Discuss how students would react in such a situation. The responses will not be positive. It is a weird thing to do and for sure students would feel like they were in danger. It would also be one of the stories they would be telling for the years to come.
Ask if it’s ever acceptable for strangers to approach them and touch their belongings. If yes, in what situations do students see this behaviour tolerable? Now read an introduction paragraph from a blog post by NutriSource titled How to stop people from petting your dog, which replaces the imaginary phone with a dog. Do their opinions still stand, or have they changed? Discuss if they have been in this position before and what they did or said to a person touching their pet.
The introduction states that there are different reasons why you shouldn’t touch a dog you don’t know. Read them aloud and discuss if students agree with the list or not. Are there any other points that they would add to this list? Put students into pairs or small groups and ask them to rank those reasons from 1 to 5, where 1 is being the most important point and 5 the least. Proceed by reading the paragraphs and matching them with the reasons discussed before. Explain any new words as necessary.
Before reading the last part of the blog post, ask students to take a role of a dog owner and think of three ways in which they could stop someone from petting their furry friends. Share and compare the answers with the rest of the group. Then ask students to read the second part of the blog post and check if any of their answers appeared in the text. If yes, which ones? If not, you can discuss if they are better or worse than the ideas suggested in the class.
Students work once again alone, this time reading the second part of the blog post and filling in the text with the missing sentences. Put students into pairs to check and compare the answers. Then check them together as a group.
Even though the text itself wasn’t too difficult and many unknown words can be easily assumed from the context, some students may find it beneficial to learn them and start using them in their day-to-day life. Look at the list of 10 vocabulary items and their use in the text (all of them are underlined). Match them with their definitions.
Finish the class with a short writing and speaking task. Present an imaginary situation in which students are approached by a stranger who insists on petting their dogs. Students write a polite but firm explanation of why it isn’t a good idea to touch their pets. Collect the answers and read them to the class. Students vote for the explanation that would be the most effective in this situation.
Have you ever been in this situation and seen it as a big problem? You may find out that some of your dog-owning students may face this issue daily, and may have a lot to say about it! If you want to find out who feels passionate about the topic, download the presentation and the worksheet with the teacher’s notes below.
2 thoughts on “B2 – Don’t touch my dog, please!”
It’s common courtesy to ask to pet a dog from the owner first I think. Also you can’t tell from looking at him if he will be a biter
You’d think that it’s common courtesy but it’s not. We have a border collie and passersby treat him like a public good that you can come up to and pet or hug as you wish 🤦🏽♀️