How to approach a dog?

April 13, 2012

Dogs are man’s best friends! These animals are known to be the most popular choice for a pet. But did you know that over 4 million people get bitten by a dog every year? This figure is for United States alone. This figure will balloon if we consider dog bite incidents in other countries.

Some dog breeds are naturally friendly, some are aggressive by nature. Who could ever resist the urge to pat an attractive and seemingly friendly dog? Friendly dogs though would show an aggressive temperament when approached the wrong way. Dogs are shy and nervous around unfamiliar people so refrain from patting the dog no matter how much you would want to. Aside from the fact that most dog breeds are territorial, there are several reasons why a dog would not welcome excessive attention of the family and the interest of unfamiliar people. A toy dog or even a calm giant breed may seem to be harmless but the dog may be sick or may have an injury that makes it edgy. A usually well mannered dog will be aggressive if it is protecting puppies.

So how would you safely approach a dog? First off is to ask the permission of the owner. Would it be alright to approach the dog? Is the dog vicious or does it welcome pats from strangers? Move towards the dog slowly. Allow the dog to see you. This means that it should not be approached from behind or when it is sleeping. A startled dog may instinctively bite. Don’t run towards the dog. The dog could misread your action as a threat and would turn vicious to protect itself. Approach slowly and squat sideways in front of the dog. Facing the dog directly will be viewed as confrontational and would make the dog defensive. Likewise, hovering over the dog will make it defensive. These are territorial animals. They guard their food, their toys and their shelter. As such they must be approached with caution.

NEVER stare directly at the dog. In the wild, the alpha dog would stare at dogs lower in ranks to manifest its authority. A stare is viewed as a threat. When you stare at the dog, you are practically challenging the dog. So now you have managed to get near the dog but refrain from patting the head at once. You may extend a hand (palms down) to be sniffed by the dog. People usually shake hands when they meet. In the canine world, sniffing is the way they greet each other. When the dog has sniffed your hand you can now pat under the chin. If the dog is calm then you can now pat the head.

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