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The Bad Boys of the Dog-Free Lifestyle

The members of the online community r/dogfree aren’t impressed by your dog — or any dog for that matter. And they’re tired of being maligned for it

At least a third of millennials own a dog. The ubiquity of pups among young people, especially since the Great Pandemic Puppy Boom, even has some psychologists speculating that they’ve become a generation’s replacement for children. Just take a look on Instagram, or swipe through any dating app, and witness the endless photos and video clips of “fur babies” posing in bow ties, sleeping with a night-mask tucked into bed covers or throwing a tantrum when their Starbucks order is missed.

It’s clearer than ever that we’re living in a “must love dogs” world, which means the few people left on this planet who aren’t amused by a slobbering pooch are relegated to dark corners of the internet — or more specifically, Reddit’s r/dogfree and its spin-off groups r/DogfreeHumor and r/DogfreeDating

The tagline for the 42,700-person strong anti-dog community is simply, “We don’t like dogs.” And rest assured, they have many, many reasons for not liking your canine companion — whether it’s the barking, the smell, the literal shit they track into the house or the fact that they’ll shamelessly lick your face right after licking their butthole. 

And if you have any questions about why they hate dogs, don’t bother asking. “We receive and remove this question just about daily,” the FAQ states. “This is our community’s space to vent and commiserate about an unpopular opinion, not a place where we come to feel burdened with the task of having to justify ourselves constantly.” 

This, ultimately, gets to the heart of r/dogfree, which is that the community’s real gripe is actually with “dog people,” less so the dogs themselves (although, yes, they aren’t their biggest fans either). 

“I don’t dislike dogs, or any animals for that matter — with exceptions for pitbulls,” redditor Carl tells me, explaining that people who own dogs are the real enablers of annoying dog behavior. “They don’t seem to realize their dogs are animals. They aren’t children or family members, and they should never take precedence over humans,” he laments. “They always assume that you’re as mentally unwell as they are and that you, of course, worship all filthy barking shit beasts.”

His complaints are similar to the broader ones made by the subreddit’s moderators. According to the FAQ, the community objects to people who prioritize animal rights over human rights, people who treat their dogs like people, people who bring fake service dogs into public spaces and the general assumption that they’re total sociopaths about all of the above. Essentially, the subreddit serves as a safe space for everything from admitting that you’re not exactly sad that someone’s dog has died, to venting about a significant other who allows their dog to sleep in their bed

“[It’s] okay to discuss the justified, humane euthanization of dogs,” and “if you’ve had to live with a significant other’s dog for years and wish to express relief over its natural passing, that’s okay,” the FAQ explains. “Really, context is everything.”

All of which is why the moderators “respectfully declined” to comment for this article. (After I reached out, they also posted a plea to subscribers to refrain from speaking to the media as well.) “We work very hard to maintain a sanctuary for our members to commiserate and discuss an unpopular opinion amongst like-minded individuals,” they said, redirecting me to the aforementioned FAQ. “We have been discussed publicly on outside platforms in the past, and each time we have experienced significant disruption to the insulation that this forum provides.”

In other words, unlike the dogs they loathe so much, they’re just not gonna rollover for the rest of us on command.