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Small Talk: Tips For Socially Awkward Pups and Peeps

I am an introvert by nature and so is Ruby. And although not all introverts are socially awkward, we are card-carrying members of the socially awkward ‘I don’t do small talk and would rather be at home’ club.

Ruby and I are usually on the same page with our social anxiety, but not always. Sometimes when Ruby is feeling like she can greet other dogs with a wag, I am in a ‘cross the street because I can’t handle small talk’ mood. Likewise, when I am feeling normal and maybe even chatty (once or twice a year), Ruby gets all jumpy and reactive. When one is up, the other is down. We are like a confidence seesaw gone wrong.

But based on the response to our first post about the challenges of dog walking when you are socially awkward, we suspect we are not alone. So, after years of trying (unsuccessfully) to be normal, we have decided to embrace the awkward silence and stop explaining ourselves. It’s a new year and the same old awkward us.

Dog walking and small talk for socially awkward dogs and their equally socially awkward owners

How To Make Small Talk When You Are Socially Awkward

1. Avoid, AVOID, Avoid. Look the other way, pretend to check your phone, appear busy so the other person (or dog) moves on. Perfect the wave from across the street (AKA “sorry, can’t chat now because we are on opposite sides of the street”).

Small talk for socially awkward dogs and their socially awkward owners

2. Play It Cool, Act Normal (Kind Of). Of course normal means different things to different people. Keep your social jitters in check and try not to frighten or make people laugh. If possible, avoid walking into walls, tripping over your own feet (or paws), and/or making weird faces (see above for an example of what NOT to do).

Tips for Walking your dog and small talk for socially awkward pups and peeps

3. Just Say it. If you must engage in conversation, be direct and try not to choke on your words. If worse comes to worst (and the words just won’t come out), you can always pretend you have laryngitis.

Adventures in life, small talk for socially awkward dog and equally socially awkward owner

4. Don’t sweat it. Embrace the socially awkward silence and just be you. The truth is dogs (and cats) don’t care about small talk anyway. So as long as you have each other and a socially awkward friend or two, you are good to go (or stay home depending on your personal preference).

If any of this sounds familiar, welcome to the club! Feel free to share your own socially awkward tales (or tails) in the comments. Want to know more about life with a socially awkward dog, read part one here.

Lessons in small talk: tips and icebreakers for socially awkward peeps and pups


  1. Edie ThePug
    January 17, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    I know just how you feel. I used to be the same, but instead of calling it socially awkward, I would call it being shy. As I become older 😉 I am much more comfortable in situations and figure "what do I have to lose?!" I'm now open and willing to talk to anyone and take more chances – I truly believe that this new look on life is passed on to my dog and she has taken on the same feelings- meaning she is comfortable in pretty much any situation and enjoys meeting people.

  2. Sheltie Times
    January 17, 2018 / 3:09 pm

    Realize the other person may just be trying to be polite and not wanting to be rude. I don't like small talk, but some of my neighbors are equally awkward at it. However, the ones who never say the small stuff are viewed as undesirable so I try for the small stuff.Have a few rehearsed lines and then move on. I have a few lines in the conversation pocket so to speak that cover the basics and then I can move on with the politeness need being met, thus not falling into the undesirable trap.Katy needs a companion. She is always better socially with another family dog on hand then alone. We learned this the one vacation we took after Bailey died. It was so hard on her socializing because she is basically shy and reserved, but with both Bailey and Annie as her shields she does come out and socialize with dogs and humans. She just can't handle the pressure alone.

  3. Eastside Cats
    January 17, 2018 / 3:42 pm

    There is no NORMAL! Comparing oneself to others will not assist with feeling better; always, we'll end up feeling worse. I have been very shy, then found a way to break through, although the shy comes back at weird times, especially when I cannot FRIKIN' remember a person's name. Stammer, um, ah…feel like a silly goose. I've decided that I simply need to own up to it, "Oh my, I didn't have enough coffee this morning…your name again is…?" Honestly, I can stop a stranger on the street and start talking, but that's probably overcompensation for those years when I hid in my bedroom, reading books and books and books. This is an excellent post, because we all feel this way!

  4. Beth Patterson
    January 17, 2018 / 3:47 pm

    I discovered that reading was a wonderful way to avoid conversation when I was in junior high! I never went anywhere without a book and read while I waited for class to start. I'm less self conscious now, but just as socially awkward as I ever was. Two of my dogs love every human they meet, and the third one is gruff with strangers.

  5. Mark Muller
    January 17, 2018 / 4:16 pm

    I sometimes have to act that way… checking my phone, my shoes, my pockets or the clouds on the sky … because I still have the language problem teehee ;O)))

  6. ♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥
    January 17, 2018 / 4:40 pm

    As Mom says, we are usually out to get some exercise and fresh air. So we just nod or say hello, nice day, and for the most part keep going. BUT everyone has lots of questions about Siberians and lots of comments about our eyes, so sometimes we just have to put up with all that attention and those nice things they say:)Woos – Lightning, Misty, and Timber

  7. Brian
    January 17, 2018 / 4:55 pm

    It took the Dad years to get over his shyness but he would much rather be at home too.

  8. Molly the AireGirl
    January 17, 2018 / 5:05 pm

    I am a friendly girl and love to meet and greet peeps and pups. Mom-not so much. We normally don't stop and chat unless it's a friend and that's okay too. We're out for exercise – not socializin'.

  9. Three Chatty Cats
    January 17, 2018 / 5:09 pm

    Hilarious! And oh my gosh, I'm part of the club!!! Our dog would be as well! 🙂 Such a funny and true post. Yep, I'd rather be at home surrounded by my furry friends. We have a cat or two who are also socially awkward.

  10. Cathy Armato
    January 17, 2018 / 5:39 pm

    You're so funny Kristin! We've met up several times at the BlogPaws conference and the DWAA event and honestly I would never have guessed you are socially awkward at all! You seem super cool & fun to me. Of course being the antithesis of shy – they don't call me Chatty Cathy for nothing – I probably monopolized the conversation! LOL!!Love & Biscuits,Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  11. Seville at Nerissa's Life
    January 17, 2018 / 6:01 pm

    Peep #1 often walks down to the mailbox. It's about half a kilometre so it takes a few minutes. When walkin' down there, she'll often come across a neighbour or two. Sometimes she stops to chat but sometimes she just doesn't feel like chattin'. She doesn't mean to be rude. She just doesn't wanna chat. As a cat, I TOTALLY get this. I often don't wanna chat with peeps, or other cats, either. But there are peeps out there who just don't understand. Some peeps think EVERYONE is wantin' to chat with them, ALL THE TIME. Such is the life of peeps. PURRS.

  12. Bella Roxy & Macdui
    January 17, 2018 / 6:18 pm

    We usually got out EARLY or when there aren't many people around, because Dui tries to bite people. Nodding, waving or a G'day is usually enough to keep everyone happy.

  13. da tabbies o trout towne
    January 17, 2018 / 7:56 pm

    ruby….for de record….N de bozz will tell ya two….if ya due knot wanna "be round" in any way.. shape… ore form… oh any kind… bee ya out doorz ore in…..peepulz, dawgs, catz, then thatz kewl ~~~~~~~cuzin daiz can count on one paw how manee her wants ta bee round, haz ever been round, N will continmew ta …be round… ♥♥♥

  14. Bouncing Bertie
    January 17, 2018 / 8:08 pm

    Great post. But I must say it was having a dog that taught me, a former avoider of small talk, about the sometime pleasures of engaging in chit chat with random strangers. And travelling with Bertie on trains, I have learned that hiding behind a book just doesn't work with that person who wants to use your dog as an excuse to tell you the life history of every pet they've ever owned. The only option is to embrace the situation!Cheers, Gail.

  15. Lori Hilliard
    January 17, 2018 / 8:19 pm

    I've been socially awkward all my life, which is surprising to a lot of people, as I was the director of the board for a non-profit for years. Organizing was my forte, socializing and schmoozing was not! I'm actually fine with one or two people; once there are more than three people in the "crowd," I freeze. My dog Soldier does help me break the ice, though, because he loves everybody and they all seem to love him.

  16. Hailey and Zaphod and their Lady
    January 17, 2018 / 9:32 pm

    Avoid is my motto!

  17. M Dawson
    January 17, 2018 / 10:16 pm

    I can't imagine being socially awkward. Shame on me! I used to hate standing up in class but now I realise life is too short not to say hello, stand up and smile so I don't care! Horrible me I'm sure. I am baffled by the number of people claiming to be introverts who blog and attend public functions. No-one likes meeting strangers much at first but really, you can't cower under a stone! There is a whole world out there to enjoy. Dogs are genuine, they love people and (mostly) other dogs. We need to model our approach on them. A smile (tail wag) handshake (sniff the butt….) and engage in friendly talk (doggy play).

  18. debbie carter
    January 17, 2018 / 10:45 pm

    Aww, this is great. I can definitely be socially awkward sometimes, or even just not want to deal with other people. I (and Ringo too) prefer to hike on empty trails with maybe one other person we know (if not alone, which is even better sometimes) and no one else. These tips are great, and hilarious!

  19. cosmicsnup
    January 18, 2018 / 12:18 am

    Felix is socially awkward, too. We decided just recently to let go and embrace the awkward. He will just never be happy at the dog park, the people park, the farmer's market. That's okay!

  20. Lola The Rescued Cat
    January 18, 2018 / 12:29 am

    I have to force myself to engage in small talk most of the time. My first BlogPaws conference was definitely a challenge for me. It's gotten easier over the last few years (especially since I've made a lot of friends), but chatting up the brands is still hard at times.

  21. Sahara The Dog
    January 18, 2018 / 12:58 am

    Oh my gosh same to everything in this post!! I am so famous for turning around and walking the other direction, crossing the street even if its out of the way, or just somehow figuring out how to avoid people!! This tips had me laughing out loud!

  22. Jana Rade
    January 18, 2018 / 12:59 am

    I love your list. I am not a social person but when Jasmine was little I was chasing people around just so Jasmine could hang out with their dogs. Who would have thunk that having a dog would make me a stalker LOL

  23. Idaho PugRanch
    January 18, 2018 / 2:04 am

    I am not a very social person either but I have gotten better with time in situations where I need to behugsPugRanch Mom

  24. 24 Paws of Love
    January 18, 2018 / 3:11 am

    I'm an introvert too and some of my dogs are shy like me as well. Luckily almost no one is ever out in our neighborhood, so get the whole place to ourselves! If we do run into someone, we are always on opposite sides of the street. A quick HI, wave or nod and it's over.

  25. Fashion Beyond Forty
    January 18, 2018 / 3:13 am

    You know what… I LOVE THIS!!!! I am so tried of people trying to adjust or adapt to societal norms. Yet at the same time there is so much acceptance being shown out on social media of those who are different. I think the later is awesome! Sometimes there is nothing TO fix. We are fine the way we are! Yes, I do write about empowerment a lot but I would only encourage someone to be less socially awkward if they DESIRED to be so. You ROCK – both of you!

  26. Savvy Pet Care
    January 18, 2018 / 3:19 am

    So funny, but I can so relate. I have been working at pushing myself to engage when I need to but then I need my down time.

  27. Natasha Thompson
    January 18, 2018 / 4:43 am

    You're totally speaking my language here! I loved when we'd have our neighborhood dog park to ourselves so I wouldn't have to make polite conversation. Even worse was when we got new neighbors and the first time I met the wife was in the backyard and Roxy & Rico decided to act out by barking insanely at her and then making a great escape from the backyard to chase after an iguana! Here I was running around chasing them in slippers while they had a grand time "playing" with this giant 2 foot long iguana, and our neighbor was cracking up. Luckily she ended up being a dog person and a friend even though we only lived next door for a few more months before we moved!

  28. Sandy Kubillus
    January 18, 2018 / 4:54 am

    What did we do before we had phones to make us look busy and not have to talk to people? Stare at the walls or papers is what I remember doing at meetings. I often stumble across my words and forget things (like people's names). So I too am a member of the socially awkward club!

  29. Chirpycats
    January 18, 2018 / 5:30 am

    This post is hilarious and I can relate to a lot of it. I am a chameleon in that I could definitely be both an introvert and 'appear' to be an extrovert in other situations. Small talk doesn't come naturally, but I have learned to master the art of small talk when required. I think I'm definitely closer to the introvert mark though because I derive my energy from inward-looking activities; things like hiking, writing, and art, these are things that 'fill my bucket' so to speak. If I have to attend a party or baby shower, I come home feeling drained with a massive headache. lol

  30. Dolly theDoxie
    January 18, 2018 / 3:27 pm

    So I don't think you are socially awkward at all! I see all your interaction on social media and at Blogpaws. I'm the one in my room not meeting any new people, I can't even match names to blogs. Walking the dog isn't an issue with me, there's no need to engage with another dog walker, I just walk on by with maybe a good morning. Not to mention Taffy will want to kill the other dog if it so much as comes toward her. Rudy, yes, I can understand her not being good with other dogs (not Dolly) but I think you are way to hard on yourself (like most us are). There's a thaw in the forecast should we try to do a meet up? Have you decided about Global? Sandra and Dolly

  31. Animal Lover Amelia
    January 18, 2018 / 5:57 pm

    I was raised to be an introvert by an extrovert mom that told me that kids are to be seen and not heard…it wasn't until I owned a business that I became a "happy to meet you" person. These pics are precious and tell a story.

  32. My Swamp Dog Love
    January 19, 2018 / 3:36 am

    We have a saying around here, "More dogs less people."

  33. Ruth
    January 19, 2018 / 7:24 am

    I'm sort of a hybrid. I am an introvert who would often rather stay at home and I'm not very good at small talk but at the same time if someone approached me to talk about my dog/lamb I would have no trouble talking to them.(Also I love you, Ruby! 💖💖)

  34. Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat
    January 19, 2018 / 8:38 pm

    "you can always pretend you have laryngitis" I've actually done this before!!!I'm with you two … things like the BlogPaws Conference are hard on me. Small talk and more small talk … I can never think of anything to say and then I'm sure no one wants to be around me. Of course, cats are better than most people – so it's no big surprise that I fawn over and chat with every cat I see!

  35. KB Bear
    January 20, 2018 / 2:09 am

    I love this post!!!! It reminds me (again) why I love living rurally. I see the same people over and over. Shyla and I have similar preferences among those people. They all know that I get migraines, and if I don't feel like talking, I just say that I have a migraine (the people *run* away). If I pretended to check my phone, they'd laugh at me because they know that we don't have cell coverage except in a few spots here!The main thing is that most rural people are similar to each other. We live in the woods because we don't always want to talk to people. I think that it's a true blessing that Shyla ended up living with a forest-dwelling family. Most days, she doesn't have to face her extreme social stress!Thanks for a fun post! You are so smooth and witty in your writing that I'd never guess that you're an introvert!

  36. meowmeowmans
    January 21, 2018 / 6:32 pm

    This is perfect. There's nothing wrong with being quiet, and we love being at home, too. 🙂

  37. Marv Marvelous
    January 22, 2018 / 2:38 am

    Yep! I'm like that when I have Cinnamon around to walk. Cinnamon is a fear aggressive dog, so I have to walk here where there not very many other dogs. She does live people though and is always willing to greet them. I talk about her when people engauge me.CiaoMarv's Mom

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