How to approach an unfamiliar dog

You wouldn’t rush over to a stranger at a party and ruffle their hair, so why would you run up to a strange dog and pat them on the head? Just as we have social etiquette for meeting new people, dogs have rules for greetings too. Unfortunately, most people don’t know or respect those rules and that can lead to trouble. A threatened or frightened dog might react with cowering, growling, or even biting. Learn how to greet strange dogs safely and politely so you can more easily make new canine friends.

Always Ask Permission

Unlike people, dogs can’t tell you if they would rather you left them alone. They rely on their owner as spokesperson and guardian to protect them from unwanted attention. Therefore, you should always ask permission from a dog’s owner before greeting their dog. Something as simple as, “Can I say hello to your dog?” will do the trick. If the answer is no, respect that and let the dog be.

All too often, well-meaning people press on after a no. They rush toward the dog stating, “It’s okay, I love dogs.” That’s simply not safe. First, the owner’s concern was for their dog, not for you. Second, just because you love dogs doesn’t mean that dog will love you. A frightened or reactive dog isn’t going to suddenly change their emotional state just because of how friendly you are. You could end up bitten by a dog that feels threatened by your unwelcome intrusion. Trust the owner’s judgment and keep away.

But what if the dog looks friendly and seems to be soliciting your attention? It’s still important to ask the owner. It’s not enough to read the dog’s body language, there could be many reasons why the owner would prefer you stay back. Perhaps they are working on their dog’s bad habit of jumping on people and don’t want you interfering with their training. Maybe their dog has a sore spot they don’t want you to inadvertently pat. Or their dog might get aggressive when strangers come too close to their beloved owner.

Let the Dog Approach You

Once you’ve asked for the owner’s permission, it’s time to ask for the dog’s. Rather than sticking your hand in the dog’s face or reaching out for pets, wait for the dog to come to you. If the dog approaches you, they are saying they want to meet you. If they hang back, respect they simply aren’t in the mood, despite what their owner said. Not all owners accurately read their dog’s emotional state and some mistakenly believe their anxious dog will get over their fear if enough people say hello. Let the dog have the final word.

To make yourself appear as friendly as possible, turn your body slightly to the side and look at the dog with your peripheral vision. In dog language, head-on approaches and direct eye contact are threatening, so avoid them if possible. You can also kneel down to the dog’s level so you aren’t looming overhead. However, if you are in any way uncertain about the dog, stay standing. After all, kneeling will put your face at bite level.

Dogs don’t shake hands like people do, they use their nose to say hello. So, hold your hand in a fist so they can approach and sniff if they choose. Don’t thrust your hand at the dog. They can smell you just fine from a distance, and the sudden movement could startle them.

Greet With Dog-Appropriate Actions

Once the dog approaches, it’s finally time to greet them. But be sure to do so in dog-appropriate ways. Restrict your pats to the dog’s side, neck, back, or chest. Even better, ask the owner if their dog has a favorite spot for petting. Avoid reaching over the dog’s head as that is frightening. And don’t hug or restrain the dog in any way. Most dogs dislike pats on the head and hugs. They might tolerate them from their family members, but strangers are a different story.

Go slowly at first and keep your movements calm and steady. This dog is just getting to know you after all. You don’t want to startle them. Read their body language to see whether they’ve had enough after a few moments or if they’re interested in further interaction. Hopefully, it will be clear you’ve made a new friend.

Use Caution With Dogs on the Loose

Dogs are adorable whether they are being walked by their owner or running free on their own. In fact, you might feel even more compelled to greet a lost dog because you want to reunite them with their owner. However, you need to be cautious when you first encounter a loose dog. Let them come to you and keep your body language calm and non-threatening. This is particularly important for children.

All kids should know the Be a Tree technique for whenever they encounter a dog on the loose. Be a Tree refers to standing still with your arms tucked into your sides and your hands folded in front of you while you look down. This is the safest posture for kids around a loose dog because they aren’t doing anything to threaten or spook the dog like making eye contact or triggering the dog’s chase response with movement. Practice this posture with a friendly dog until it comes naturally to your child. Once you and your child know Be a Tree and all the rules for greeting on-leash dogs, you can confidently and safely greet any new dog you encounter.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

Dogs have been our companions for centuries. That kind of familiarity often leads some wanting to approach and pet an unfamiliar dog. That said, there are six things you should do when approaching a dog you don’t know (or who doesn’t know you).

  1. Ask permission from the dog’s owner before interacting. Never approach a dog if the owner is not present or if the dog is tied up.
  2. Don’t offer your hand to be sniffed. Instead, stand with your side facing the dog, avoid eye contact, and let them come to you.
  3. Be Calm. Don’t make sudden movements.
  4. Don’t make high-pitched noises. Greet the dog using your normal voice.
  5. Bending over a dog or petting their head from above can frighten them. It’s better to squat down to their level and pet their chest or sides.
  6. Not every dog can be your friend. Read the dog’s body language. Keep your distance if they’re tense, their tail is between their legs, or they are growling.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

by Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop
Last updated on August 13th, 2021 – Originally published on August 26th, 2016

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When people see a dog, it’s not uncommon for their first reaction is to reach out and pet it, and with almost 90 million dogs in the US, it’s hard not to. Although more likely than not, the dog is friendly, that still isn’t always the best idea. It’s crucial to remember that, dogs get scared too. So when a person they don’t know rushes up to them and reaches to touch them, they might take it as a threat and become aggressive to defend themselves, possibly resulting in a dog bite. So, here are some helpful tips to safely approach and interact with an unfamiliar dog.

Ask Permission From the Owner

If you see a dog that you want to pet or get close to, the first thing you should always do is ask the owner if it’s okay. Not only is this the polite thing to do, but the owner is the best person to ask whether the dog is friendly enough to approach. After all, they know their dog best, and they have nothing to gain by letting someone near their aggressive dog with the potential of them being bitten. Plus, as noted by the American Kennel Association , the dog might have a sore spot or an area they don’t like to be touched that the owner knows about. Also, if there is no owner, such as if the dog is tied up outside of a store, it’s best that you leave it alone. You can’t know a dog from its body language alone and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Let the Dog Come to You

If the owner says it’s okay to greet their dog, don’t sprint up into the dog’s space. Move closer and then stop, allowing the dog to come to you in its own time. Doing this helps show the dog that you aren’t a threat, and allowing them to investigate you will make them all the more comfortable. To really show the dog that you’re a friend, allow them to pick up on your scent. Although it’s rumored that the best way to do this is through the “Sniff Test” and sticking your hand out so they can smell it, this is no longer advised by professionals and many dog owners.

Know Where To Safely Touch

If everything so far has gone well and it’s time to physically touch the dog, be sure to do it as calmly and gently as possible. Stick to the dog’s neck, back, or chest, and avoid touching their head. Even better, ask the owner where their favorite place to be pet is to score some serious brownie points with the dog. If you follow these petting methods, it’s likely nothing unexpected will happen. However, the same can’t be said if you come running up and throwing your hands around a dog, getting in its face, and being overall intrusive.

Anticipate the Unexpected

Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, dogs and even their owners can be unpredictable, which can result in serious harm. Some situations might even lead you to require a Riverside personal injury lawyer . To avoid this, be respectful, be smart, and remember that dogs aren’t just there for your pleasure.

When you want to touch a dog, you must first ask the owner and if the answer is yes, little by little, taking into account the following aspects, make the animal play.

We must be careful when we see an unfamiliar dog because we do not know how it will react. It is normal that, instinctively, those animal lovers when they see a dog approach them to touch them, caress them, but that is a serious mistake , because you never know how a dog can react, since each one has its own personality. and they can be as reliable as they cannot be.

Normally dogs are somewhat suspicious although that also varies depending on the breed, for example the Pugs are the most sociable and affectionate dogs unlike the Shiba Inu breed , which are totally associable with people they do not know. Therefore, when you want to deal with a dog , pet it and play with it, you have to wait and see its reaction .

If your reaction does not show any type of body sign, it is best to walk away and back up and try contact a few minutes later. It must be borne in mind that when a dog is happy and friendly, it wags its tail, which is a sign of joy and that it wants to get closer and play, otherwise if the tail does not move it may be a sign that it does not trust the dog. environment you are in at the time.


At this point we will try to educate the dog from when it is a puppy (regardless of whether people outside the animal must exercise caution and respect it). He must be educated since he is a puppy so that when he is older he will be somewhat more confident and can walk with him quietly , since there are many cases in which dogs do not trust and they bark at everyone who passes by, and it is uncomfortable for both the owners and the people who pass by.

That is, since they are puppies they begin to walk and do mischief they must be in continuous contact with children , other animals and unknown people so that the adaptation process is much easier and the results are optimal . Although the dog is educated from a young age, the tips mentioned below must be taken into account in order to avoid any displeasure and make the animal feel as comfortable as possible in the presence of any stranger .


Before approaching an unfamiliar dog, the following aspects should be taken into account :

    1. The dog’s body language . Well, this is a point to take into account because from there we can determine with almost all precision how it will act although we cannot trust it either. To do this, you have to look at:
      • The barking and grunting.
      • Show your teeth.
      • Tail upright or down.
      • Bristling fur.
      • Tension posture.
      • Rigid paws.
  1. Let it smell you little by little . It should be the dog who takes the initiative , otherwise he can get nervous and choose to have a more aggressive and distrustful attitude .


Once the attitude of the animal has been seen, it is time to be able to establish a relationship with the dog , and for this, the following tips must be taken into account :

    • Do not speak loudly to the dog, always with a calm and loving tone.
    • Do not make sudden movements
    • Avoid cornering him , he usually feels helpless and can attack .
    • Eye contact should not be prolonged, the dog may see it as a challenge.
    • Approach your hand slowly so that you smell and see the good intentions.
    • Caress him gently.
    • Squat down as this is a way to get on the same level as them.
    • Do not invade your personal space , you have to keep your distances.
    • It is useful to show open hands as a symbol of submission and that we have nothing.
    • Never force a dog to touch it.
    • You should smell quietly, take your time .
    • Never hug or give them kisses because by doing that they cannot move and they get nervous .
  • Always dedicate kind words to them in a soft and sharp whole, they identify it as positive and may allow themselves to be touched.


Despite the tenderness they may show, you should never touch or approach a dog when :

    • He is chained or tied .
    • Locked in a cage .
    • Behind a fence .
    • Inside a car .
    • When I am asleep and I notice your presence .
    • Sick .
    • With puppies .
  • When you are eating , they become territorial and aggressive.

When the dog is in any of these situations, it is better to move away because the probability that it becomes aggressive or wants to bite increases considerably. You have to be cautious , because they are animals, but they feel and are also afraid or they can feel threatened like people. You have to give them your time and respect them in the same way.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

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How to approach an unfamiliar dog

“Dogs are man’s best friend” isn’t just a saying. It’s the honest truth, which makes it hard for us to walk past a cute furry face without saying hello. When our paths cross during a stroll in the park, we tend to forget that we’re complete strangers. However, it’s important to remember that there is a right and wrong way to approach an unfamiliar dog.

Here’s how to avoid unwanted and tense situations with strange dogs:

Ways to safely approach an unfamiliar dog

  1. Check their temperament

Before you approach an unfamiliar pooch, make sure to check the colour of their collar (if they are wearing one). Coloured leashes, collars and ribbons are worn to indicate different messages to passers-by.

If a dog is wearing a red collar, you’ll probably want to walk the other way. A red collar means that they can be aggressive towards strangers or other dogs.

Here’s what the different collar colours mean:

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

If you’re not sure on the meaning behind the colour of a dog’s collar, ask the owner about the dog’s personality.

2. Ask for approvaL

Always ask the owner if it’s okay to pet their pooch. They know their pet’s behaviour best. If the owner is not around, wait and don’t approach the dog without permission.

3. Do a safety test

It’s time to see if the doggy trusts you. Put out your hand and let the dog sniff it. Don’t move your hand towards the dog; let them come to you. If the pup shows acceptance by wagging his tail and sniffing around your feet, pet away!

4. Keep an eye on body language

After a few strokes, stop and see if the dog is comfortable with the attention. If they ‘ask’ you to continue by nudging or leaning into you, carry on petting if you feel comfortable.

Body language to beware of:

  • Wrinkled nose
  • Alerted ears
  • Raised back hair
  • Baring teeth
  • Pursed lips
  • Tail between legs

Important: Don’t hug the dog. While humans love hugging, holding a dog close to you can make them feel threatened and lead to aggression.

5. Stay calm

Always remain calm when you’re in the presence of a pooch. Don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises that might scare them away. Also, remember to never look an unfamiliar dog directly in the eye as it could be seen as a threat to them.

Like us, all dogs have their own personalities. If an unfamiliar dog gives you the cold shoulder, don’t feel offended. Some dogs just don’t trust strangers. Just walk on by and move over to the next furry friend you meet.

Dogs have their own personalities. Some are gregarious and love people, while others can be shy and less comfortable around people. To prevent an unexpected bite, it’s important we all know how to safely approach a dog, especially one we aren’t familiar with.

Even nice dogs can bite

Our dogs are so lovable and cute that they wouldn’t hurt a fly, at least not intentionally. Yet, insurance companies always ask homeowners if they own a dog. If so, they also want to know the breed. For instance, some breeds like Rottweilers, German shepherds or Akitas can cause your rates to go up.

As dog owners, we know our pets can be unpredictable, and they might innocently cause injuries to family or guests. That’s why it’s important we know how to safely approach a dog without triggering an unexpected bite.

It’s also important to teach our family members, especially children, the best ways to safely approach a dog.

How to safely approach a dog

1. Ask the dog’s owner for permission

Most people love dogs. When we see a new dog in the neighborhood, we feel compelled to lean in to talk to it, and maybe even kneel down to its level for a quick pat on the head.

Before you do any of those things, be sure to first ask the owner’s permission. An owner knows their dog’s personality. Maybe their dog loves the attention from strangers, or maybe it’s a little shy around people, just like my adopted chiweenie is.

Either way, asking permission is the polite thing to do, and it may help prevent that lovable dog from getting frightened or even biting.

2. Check dog’s body language

Before getting closer to a dog, be sure the animal appears receptive. Does the dog look happy and relaxed in your presence? Or, does the animal appear tense or nervous, with teeth showing, ears tucked back, or tail tucked between the legs?

I used to have a chihuahua who loved everyone, and everyone loved him, too. Despite his usual lack of fear around people, and his love for attention, my chihuahua could become nervous around strangers.

A nervous dog will not enjoy a stranger’s close presence. Sometimes, people also feel the same way around people we don’t know. So, don’t press the issue—if the dog appears nervous, respect the its feelings.

3. Avoid direct eye contact

To a dog, direct eye contact could indicate aggressiveness, and will make them feel threatened. Once challenged, even the most friendly dog could become defensive and lash out with a growl, snarl, or even bite.

So when you approach an unfamiliar dog, avoid direct eye contact. Instead, use your peripheral vision.

4. Walk in sideways

It’s best to approach a strange dog by sidling in or walking in sideways. Go slow, walk sideways, and don’t look the dog directly in the eyes.

5. Approach slowly

No matter what, approach an unfamiliar dog slowly. After all, you can imagine how you’d feel if a person you didn’t know quickly walked up to you.

Maybe the stranger might be in a hurry to get to the hospital, and wanted to ask you for directions. They’re desperate to get medical help, and that’s why they rush in for your help.

Even though you would go out of your way to help a stranger in distress, their initial fast approach could make you feel uncomfortable. You would naturally back away, and would even be suspicious.

At least I know I’d be a little leery at first. That’s exactly how a dog would feel if a stranger approached them quickly and without warning.

For the best results, approach a dog slowly and avoid direct eye contact. And, don’t approach if they appear nervous.

This dog training collar has good reviews!

6. Don’t invade a dog’s personal space

Just like people, dogs have their own personal space. Our personal space is the area around our physical body we use as a buffer when interacting with other people.

When a stranger invades our personal space barrier, even to politely ask a question, we might feel uncomfortable and threatened. Dogs feel the same way when strangers invade their personal space.

For instance, my small chihuahua named Lucky used to sit on my lap while we rode in the car. One time, we pulled over to talk to a neighbor who was going for a walk.

—Don’t make sudden moves and respect their space

The friendly neighbor reached through the open window to shake my hand. In a split second, my docile little doggie turned into a defensive pit bull willing to do anything to protect our personal space.

Lucky growled and snapped at the neighbor’s hand. Thankfully, my neighbor instinctively yanked his hand out of the way before my dog’s teeth latched into his skin.

The lesson I learned is that we should never invade an unfamiliar dog’s personal space. Plus, we should not look at the dog face-on, and we should go slow with any approach.

7. Don’t lean in or over the dog

Never lean in or over a dog. I guess that’s similar to invading a dog’s personal space. Leaning in can be interpreted as an aggressive behavior for any animal, especially for our domesticated dogs.

Instead, coax the dog to approach you.

8. Allow the dog to sniff your hand

Show the dog the back of your hand for a sniff. A dog that feels comfortable in your presence will naturally approach your hand.

After a few sniffs, the dog will have a good picture of who you are, and if your intentions are good. At this point, the trusting dog might even lean into you and invite a friendly pat or scratch.

—Don’t extend hand into dog’s personal space

However, never extend your hand into an unfamiliar dog’s personal space. To you, your extended hand might seem like a friendly gesture, but to a dog, your hand could be a serious threat.

It’s always best to allow the dog to approach your hand. In fact, by approaching you, the friendly dog might feel more in command of the situation, and be even more open to a friendly pat.

How to approach an unfamiliar dogOffer your hand so the dog can sniff
or lick, but don’t extend your hand into
the dog’s personal space

photo by Doug Martin

9. Be gentle

Don’t roughhouse with an unfamiliar dog. Instead, pet the dog gently, or maybe lightly scratch behind the ear. My dogs have all loved when strangers gently scratched behind their ears.


How to safely approach a dog

Most dogs enjoy meeting new people. Even shy dogs like my chiweenie love the attention, and love to show off.

However, dogs that are unfamiliar need to be approached with care. Go slow, avoid direct eye contact, allow the dog to approach you for a sniff, and be gentle.

There is a big difference in the methods of communication that dogs use and that humans use. And since not all dogs are trained socially, things can go wrong when you meet a dog for the first time or try to pet him the wrong way. This is why one must know how to safely approach a strange dog to avoid an unpleasant incident. For safety’s sake, you must learn the dog’s ways. For instance, if you approach a dog wrong, he might bark or growl at (or worse, bite or attack) you, telling you to “back off!” because he thinks you are an enemy.

The right methods of greeting a dog shall be discussed in this article. First of all, if the dog has an owner, you should ask permission first before “talking” to the dog itself. You may not know what kind of issues that dog may have if the owner didn’t tell you yet.

And probably the most important thing to remember is, if the dog has no owner around, stay away from it , because you don’t know its background and whether it was socialized or not, and whether it is aggressive or not. Here are some basic tips on standard dog petting etiquette:

How To Safely Approach A Strange Dog

  • Do not approach the dog face to face . This is because dogs do not generally like the idea of being “watched” or stared at, and normally like to approach others in curves, whether human, fellow dog, or other animals. Sadly, leashes prompt the dogs to walk in a straight manner, something that they are not really used to, according to a Norwegian writer Turid Rugass, who wrote “On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals”. The best way to approach a dog is to keep your side towards the dog so it will not feel threatened and uncomfortable.
  • Do not move your hand or fist toward him or hover over him .The dog may see this as an attack.This is thoroughly explained in the following video by Tracie Hotchner, author of “The Dog Bible”:
  • Do not make threatening or fast moves . Instead, act calmly towards the dog. One important thing is to not look at him directly in the eyes, as this could imply to him that you are being a threat to him. Dogs are usually very territorial, and do not really want their personal space invaded. Move slowly, and do not lean forward or have you head close to the dog. Also, avoid shouting or making noises that could possible startle the dog.
  • Let the dog approach you first. This is to let the dog know that you are not a threat. The dog may sniff at the back of your hand and may have different reactions: he can sniff and then walk away, think that you are a threat and bark or growl, or continue sniffing and act like he is asking for attention and love. And don’t talk “baby talk” to the dog. As described in a article:

Stay calm and as tempting as it is, avoid speaking in an excited, high-pitched, whiny tone. You may then calmly pet the dog. Pet the dog gently and avoid getting the dog excited as it only makes it harder for the owners to carry on after you walk away.

  • Pet the dog the correct way. The general etiquette is to not pet the dog on the top of the head or over the head. Instead, pet from the bottom of his head, under the chin, or even the chest area and the sides.

Every dog will bite (even if it was properly trained) if it feels threatened, so you should be very careful when petting and approaching a strange dog to prevent any unwanted incidents and injuries.

So perhaps the best advice about how to safely approach a strange dog is simply: don’t!

Have you had any experience with a strange dog, either good or bad? If so, please share it with all our readers below.

By Tania Dean, KSL-TV | Posted – March 5, 2019 at 6:43 a.m.

(Winston Armani, KSL)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — Statistics show about 1,000 people require emergency care for serious dog-bite injuries every day across the U.S. Sunday’s tragic incident involving a 4-year-old boy is a reminder that it happens in Utah as well.

There were 1,105 dog bites in Salt Lake County in 2017. In 2018 there were 803. So far in 2019, there have been 59 dog bites in the county — and those are just the ones reported.

Kiera Packer is with Salt Lake County Animal Services and teaches kids about how to interact with unfamiliar dogs.

“I do see a lot of kids getting bit due to improperly handling, or maybe not knowing how to handle a pet,” said Packer.

One of the first things kids should know is the dog should always have a collar, a leash and an owner with it.

“If they don’t have those three things, you probably shouldn’t be approaching them,” Packer said.

Then, ask the owner if you can pet the dog, but have the dog smell your fist first, not your open hand. Packer says that way the dog doesn’t think you’re offering it a treat.

When it comes time to pet the dog, touch its side rather than its head.

“When I ask to pet the dog, I’m not going to tap him on the head or be over the top of him. That’s really quite scary to dogs,” said Packer, demonstrating the approach. “I’m actually just going to pet him right here on the side. That’s very non-threatening. I’m not over the top of his head. I’m not doing anything where he doesn’t see where my hands are at.”

Animal control officers also said dogs like to guard their territory, so teach your kids to stay away from their “space.”

“Teach them not to enter yards that they don’t know, not to bend over fences or put (their) hand through fences of dogs that you don’t know,” said Packer.

She also says if you’re approached by a dog, don’t run because it will likely chase you. Instead, tell your kids to stand their ground and call for help loudly so a grown-up can hear.

These lessons won’t stop every dog bite, but they could potentially save your child from becoming a victim of serious injury.

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How to approach an unfamiliar dog

Even if you don’t own a pet (though, likely, you’re not reading this blog, if you don’t), it is important to teach your children about how to respect animals. One of the most important lessons is how to approach a dog they are unfamiliar with. This teaching can and should begin as soon as your child is mobile, and can be talked about even before then. Ultimately, it is a dog owner’s responsibility to control a dog in public, but children must be taught how to behave for their own safety and out of respect for the animal. Here are ten important steps to teach your kids about approaching dogs they don’t know:

1. Walk, don’t run. Running up to a dog can cause it to become fearful or aggressive. A timid dog will cower and feel uncomfortable, guaranteeing the child won’t get a chance to pet her. Even worse, a dog with fear aggression may bite.

2. Don’t try to approach a dog that is over-excited, even if it is friendly excitement. The dog may knock you over, and is likely already over-stimulated. No need to add to the chaos by exciting the dog further. Because you’re a kid. you’re exciting!

3. Allow personal space. Do not get close enough to a dog to touch it before you declare your intentions.

4. Ask. While maintaining a safe distance, ask the dog owner if you may pet the dog. Instead of asking “is your dog friendly?” ask “may I please pet your dog?” This lets the owner know exactly what you’re after, and allows him to say “no” without branding his dog as unfriendly.

5. Approach slowly, and make sure the dog is facing you. You want the dog to understand that you will do him no harm. Remember, he doesn’t know you, either. Never approach a dog from behind, as you may startle them into a fearful reaction. Most dogs will be aware of your presence, but some may be distracted by other things or may be hard of hearing. Be sure the dog sees you.

6. Put your hand out away from your body, palm up. Dogs see palms as an offer of friendship (and sometimes treats). Palm down can be interpreted as aggressive to some dogs, especially if the hand is above the dog’s head.

7. Come in under the dog’s chin, and allow her to sniff you. Patting a dog on the head is often our first instinct, but it is a sign of dominance that the dog may not appreciate until he gets to know you better. It’s always best to approach from below where the dog can see you.

8. Give a little chin scratch. Once the dog has sniffed you and seems comfortable, give him a little scratch under the chin. This says “I’m friendly, and I respect you.”

9. Pet away. If the dog is comfortable with you petting his chin, move to the ears and back and top of the head and rump and belly. you get the idea. Enjoy a friendly dog, but use self control. Never wrestle or grab a dog around the neck for a hug. If the dog seems a bit uncomfortable, don’t proceed to this step. Some owners don’t know how to say “no,” so learn to pick up on a dog’s signals.

10. Never put your face in a dog’s face. Though some dogs, especially puppies, are hard to resist, you never want to risk being bitten in the face. Doggie kisses can be loads of fun, but, even if they are offered, consider where the dog’s mouth may have been. Did he just enjoy a poo snack? Kissing your own dog is one thing, but kissing a dog you don’t know is a different story (I have a hard time following this rule, myself).

In addition, we always have to respect a dog owner if she doesn’t offer permission to pet. It’s rare, but it does happen, and it doesn’t always mean the dog is unfriendly or the owner is mean. As a professional pet sitter, it is my policy to not allow anyone to pet my clients’ dogs. Even if I know the animal well and am certain it would do well in the situation, I stick to my policy. Children and dogs are both unpredictable, and I’m not willing to take the risk with a dog that isn’t mine. While I’m walking the dog, it is my responsibility. I simply say “I’m sorry, this dog isn’t mine, and I’m not sure how he’ll react, so I can’t let you pet him today.”

When I’m walking my own dog, it’s a different story. I say “sure you can pet her! She’ll probably jump on you and kiss you, but if you’re okay with that, go for it.”

Dogs and kids are a classic combo of fun and happiness. Every situation is different, but by following these steps, you can set your child up for successful friendships and experiences.

Dogs are man’s best friends, they help people with a variety of tasks. Since ancient times dogs have helped people in hunting, guarding property, searching for missing persons, searching for weapons, finding drugs and of course not forgetting the dogs that help the disabled and blind. Thanks to these abilities the dog is very popular as an urban pet and has been for many years. this post sharing tips for how to approach any dog safely and the importance of training is a guest post.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

Some people really want to pet the dog to hug him and shower him with love, but because of lack of knowledge do it wrong. This can lead to an aggressive reaction on the part of the dog, it is also important to remember that not all dogs like affection and petting. There are dogs that are frightened by the very approach of an unfamiliar person to them. If the person still holds out their hand to them or worse, comes running, shouting and moving what seems to the dog to be threatening.

Another problematic situation is when the person looks the dog directly in the eyes. This action in the language of dogs is interpreted as a direct threat to the dog and may lead to an aggressive response on his part. That is why for most dogs, adequate training is beneficial. Have your puppy trained right and they will certainly offer you a lot in return. However, if you do not own dogs, you will not know exactly how they have been trained.

How To Approach Any Dog Safely And The Importance Of Training


A dog guarding a home or property is actually performing a job that its owner has instructed it to perform. Whenever a stranger approaches the dog’s territory, the dog should start working and try to keep the intruder away from the territory. This will be done in a variety of ways, the dog will start barking to try to warn the intruder that he will enter his territory, if the person does not respond to the barking the dog has no choice and he must bite because the dog is the owner’s best friend and only then come everyone else.


A dog as a carnivorous animal and also as a prey animal can be startled when something or someone frightens him and wakes him up suddenly, as a result of the panic the dog can bite. This is a behavior that characterizes defensiveness.


Stray dogs can have various diseases that we are not aware of and they can also be aggressive or cowardly which can lead to a bite. That is why it is best not to approach them or if you are concerned, call the appropriate team who can handle the dog and get them to help that they need.


The female dog will take care of her puppies by all means at her disposal, even if it will cost her her life. It is forbidden to approach a dog we do not know and the owner has not explicitly confirmed to us that it is a non-dangerous dog.


Guide dogs work all the time and they have a very important job to do. If they are distracted by people then they will not be able to do their jobs properly. Therefore, touching or petting a guide could frustrate the dog, which of course could cause troubles for the disabled owner.

Tips for approaching dogs

It is important to remember that dogs do not always want to be petted so it is important to give the dog the opportunity to move. If you have kids, you should teach them this immediately. If you do want to approach a dog, or your child does, how do you do it right? Here are some valuable tips

Always ask the owner if it is possible to pet the dog. The owners know their dog best of all. It is not recommended to approach a dog that has no owner in the area or that the owner has not agreed to be petted.

Once the dog’s owner has agreed, a brief introduction to the dog should be made. First we will look at him and see how he reacts to us, it is also important to call the dog by his name so that we do not scare him.

We will then allow the dog to approach and smell us.

After the dog has smelled us and sussed us out adequately enough, so to speak, it is possible to carefully and without sudden movements go down to a bent and non-threatening position and reach out to the dog in a giving position.

When approaching a dog, do not look them directly in the eye. When we look at a dog directly for matters the dog interprets it as a direct threat and we certainly do not want to confront them.

Once you and the dog are friends you can pet him in all parts of the body, it is important to remember that you should always allow the dog the option to retreat backwards.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

How to train a dog?

Training is one of the most important things in raising a dog. In fact a dog that has undergone a dog training course lives a much better and calmer life than a dog that has not been trained. So, why? Well, essentially dogs are wild animals but they have the chance to become domesticated. A trained and educated dog needs less restrictions and as a result is also less punished, because he knows how to expect him to behave both indoors and outdoors. Dog training has many benefits as we already spoke about in the first paragraph.

Here are the main reasons why you should tame your dog, even if they are currently only small and cute:

Just like children, they need to be around other children. It is important that they interact with children and people outside the family circle in a good and healthy way. In exactly the same way our dog should be sent to a dog trainer. A trainer will explain to your dog what is proper behavior at home and teach him things you are not always aware of. In the supplement the dog will learn how to behave in an environment of dogs he does not know and be exposed to the world in a correct and trauma-free way.

Strengthening the bond between man and dog. Proper training of the dog leads to strengthening the bond between him and the person. The dog and the owner understand each other, and therefore communication problems and conflicts resulting from mutual misunderstanding can be avoided.

Dog training can prevent you from serious physical injuries. A dog that has undergone a training course, knew how to behave properly and pleasantly in any environment in which they will be found.

Dog training saves quite a few dogs from being thrown onto the street or being abandoned later down the road. A dog that has not had any type of training course, are most likely to be stray dogs. If they do not know how to expect to behave at home, then they will not be able to be rehoused as easily; therefore it’s vital that they are trained. So be sure to be sensible around dogs, care for them as needed, train them, and introduce them to other dogs and train them well. If a dog meets another dog and they have never been around them before, they may panic or become badly behaved. Dogs are a man’s best friend, so let’s keep them that way.

About Brett

I’m a 40 something lifestyle blogger living in Connecticut with my husband and our 3 kids, plus our two rescue pups. We love to hike, travel, play games, watch movies, and just be outside together! Having 3 active kids makes for a hectic schedule and I try to share content, recipes and other things that can help to make today’s busy family life simpler, easier, or just plain more fun!

I started working full time at a local middle school in fall 2021 and some of my students are insistent that I am mean.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

Most people realize that one should not randomly approach an unfamiliar dog that is chained, behind a fence, in a pen or kennel or in a car, as it could result in a bite if the dog is startled or defensive. The strange dogs that you must approach, including those dogs in a shelter, should not be approached head-on. Turn your body sideways and do not make eye contact. Staring directly into a dog’s eyes could be seen as a challenge. Stay calm. Limit your words. Speak less. Let your body language communicate with the dog.

But what about those dogs that you know are friendly? The ones with the owners that you asked permission to come and see?

Here is how it usually goes. Stranger approaches. “Is your dog friendly?” Owner responds, “Yes, the dog is friendly.” Stranger rushes over with their hand pushed into the dog’s face, speaking in an excited, high-pitched, whiny tone. Some people go as far as to start playing with the dog while the dog is on the leash.

This is the wrong way to approach a dog. It often freaks a dog out, makes it unsure, sometimes leads to dog bites or leaves the owner an over-stimulated, excited dog to contend with.

One must always look at it from the dog’s point of view. Think about it, what if strangers approached you in that manner—rushed up to you with their hand in your face, talking high-pitched baby-talk? How about if a stranger ran up to you and gave you a “hello” bear hug?

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

It’s not polite behavior on the human’s part and it makes training difficult for those owners who are trying to train their dogs to have good dog-to-human manners by not jumping or rushing at humans. All of the excitement makes the dog jump around. Owner tells the dog to calm down and the stranger tells the owner it is OK, they don’t mind if the dog is excited or jumps. However, dog owners who understand dog behavior will mind. It makes it very difficult to train a dog to have good public manners when the humans are constantly approaching in this manner.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

Do not rush up to the dog putting your hand in the dog’s face. A dogs sense of smell is about 1,000 to 10,000,000 times more sensitive than a human’s (depending on the breed). You do not need to stick your hand out to a dog; the dog can already smell you from a distance. Sticking yourself in front of a dog like that is rude human-to-dog behavior and it often makes the dog unsure about you.

It is not wise to hug an unfamiliar dog. For a human, hugging is an act of love, however to a dog it can be seen as a dominance challenge as you wrap your body around the dog. Even dogs that are normally friendly can often misinterpret the act of a human hug.

Saying “hello” and petting the dogs you see out in public is great. Most dogs and owners both enjoy it. However one needs to always keep good human-to-dog manners in mind. Always ask the owner for permission before you approach a dog.

The proper way to greet a dog is to turn your body sideways with no eye-to-eye contact. Do not reach for the dog but rather allow the dog to take a few steps towards you and smell you. Stay calm and as tempting as it is, avoid speaking in an excited, high-pitched, whiny tone. You may then calmly pet the dog. Pet the dog gently and avoid getting the dog excited as it only makes it harder for the owners to carry on after you walk away. That is greeting a dog in dog language in a non-confrontational way and respecting both dog and owner.

Written by Sharon Maguire © Dog Breed Info Center ® All Rights Reserved

The Material contained herein may not be reproduced without the prior written approval of the author. Contents & Graphics Copyright © Dog Breed Info Center® (C) 1998-. All Rights Reserved. Our work is not Public Domain.

Two pomeranians in Rio de Janeiro.

Today we (Lilly and Lolla) are going to talk about what the dogs in general don’t like on the way that humans approach us.

The first rule is, never approach without our approval . We don’t like when a unknown person starts yelling “how cute”, hugging , kissing us etc. Avoid interacting with unfamiliar dogs, we don’t accept that very well.

Second, we don’t like when a person makes direct eye contact with us, we may think that you are trying to challenge or attack us in some way.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

Important – Read our body language : keep an eye on this because we can’t say “hey,don’t touch me” . When we are with loose body and wagging tail we are open to interact with you and happy. On the other hand, if we are with a stiff body and tail tucked under we don’t want to interact at all . Don’t force us , we want our space!

Approach from an angle , not from the front or rear.

Why not from the rear ? because it scare or startle us

and why not the front? because it could be mistaken for a challenge.

How will be our approval?

With the person disinterested ( with little eye contact and talking) , we do the first move , the dogs approaching and smelling you ( recognition) , if the person is approved , he or she can talk or give affection to us (but with caution) on visible places of our body (neck, chest for example) but beware : never above the head . By following these rules, we will trust and respect you , and we will be good friends .

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

Dogs are known as one of the man’s best friend. They are loyal, charming, friendly and provide protection to their owners. Since dogs can be easily found anywhere, it becomes very hard not to greet them. Usually, when we meet a dog, we rub our hand over their head and their back. But when greeting a dog who is not really known to you or you’ve just met, it becomes mandatory to be cautious.

If you’ve seen a dog for the first time, then probably the dog has also seen you for the first time. This means that your rushing over the dog and touching it without letting the dog know you a little bit can have consequences but it generally depends on the dog. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t introduce yourself to the dog or avoid the dogs you don’t know. All you have to do is be a little patient.

If you approach a dog and it doesn’t get happy or wiggle its tail, then you should never feel bad about it. Also, if you are giving the dog a little fuss and it isn’t replying then it means that the dog’s just not in the mood as there are a lot of things that can contribute to changing the dog’s temperament and mood. It can be anything, either the heat or the food or absence of their owner.

You have to make sure that the dog isn’t feeling scared or threatened in your presence. A scared dog can take some actions like biting or scratching in order to protect itself. To prevent these kinds of situations, follow the rules given below. These will help you in understanding what’s the right approach one should make towards a dog.

How to Approach a Dog Safely

The given steps will tell you everything you want to know about approaching a dog and what’s the right thing to do around an unfamiliar dog.

Asking the Owner

The first step towards approaching a dog is asking the owner of the dog if it’s okay to touch or go near it. This also counts as a gesture of respect and manners. Sometimes the owners feel offended if their dog is approached by a stranger so it’s always important to ask. If the dog is on a leash or tied up, then don’t ever approach it without the owner’s permission. If it’s a stray dog, then it is clear that there’s no owner whom you can interact with before approaching the dog. In such cases, check the body language of the dog. If the dog is looking playful or is making an advancement to make contact with you, only then you should approach. If the dog looks angry or scared then wait for the dog to calm down a bit.

Making the Right Move

It is always crucial to know the right move while approaching a dog. If the dog is relaxed and happy, bring your hand close to the dog and let it sniff your hand. Don’t force your hand onto the dog or near its face rapidly. Dogs can take this as a threat and can bite your hand. If the dog gives you an okay sign which generally means that it doesn’t bark or bite you then you can approach it and rub its chest and shoulders. Avoid touching their belly and face and most importantly the tail during your first meet. Trust us, you can save yourself from a lot of trouble by avoiding those areas.

Check the Dog’s Response

Once you start stroking the dog, stop after a few minutes and so. Now see the dog’s reaction. If the dog asks for more then keep continuing. If the dog walks away, then it’s better to let go for a while. Try not to overdo the fuss. This can irritate the dog. Stroking generally counts as a first step towards making a contact with a dog. So, try to keep it that way. If you attempt to forcefully hug the dog or get too close to it, then the dog can get anxious.

Maintain Eye Contact

This is another crucial part of approaching a dog. Generally, it is advised not to look straight in the eyes of an animal as it can frighten them, but if you are trying to make a physical contact then it becomes a necessity. Looking straight into the eyes of dogs while approaching them shows that you are not afraid of them. This increases the comfort level of the dog.

No Surprises

This is something that one should always keep in mind before approaching a dog. Dogs or any living being in general don’t like to get approached by somebody by surprise. If the dog doesn’t see you coming then your sudden arrival can scare it and your chances of making friends with the dog decrease. So, if you want to make sure that you don’t surprise the dog with your arrival, then announce yourself before coming. You can make a sound, but try to keep it low as loud sounds can scare the dogs. Also, make sure that the dog knows if somebody else is coming towards it while you stroke or scratch it. This will increase the chances of dog seeing you as a friend and not as a threat.

Listen to the Owner

It is always crucial to listen to the owner while making any advancements towards the dog. The owner can tell you a lot about how the dog likes to be petted or the places which you should never touch. Also, the owner will be able to tell you when to stop. There’s another thing you should keep in mind. If the owner doesn’t allow you to approach his or her dog, then respect that decision and move on. There’s always a reason behind owners not allowing strangers to go near their dogs. Commonly the owners who stop strangers know that their dogs are not comfortable around any strangers. So, try not to get offended.

Be Prepared

The chances of things going south are really low when you are trying to approach a dog, but still being cautious won’t harm anyone. If you feel that the dog is not giving you the response that you were hoping for or the dog is showing aggression, then move away from the dog slowly while looking away. This will decrease your chances of getting a dog bite.
If the dog starts barking, never hit it with anything as it can make the dog even more angry which you really don’t want. In such cases, let the owner handle the dog.

Final Thoughts

Dogs are loving creatures and they have no reason to harm you unless you give them one. So, if you want to approach a dog, then try to remain calm. Don’t force any contact unless the dog lets you. And always listen to the owner as the owner knows what’s best for you and the dog. Just in case, a scenario occurs in which the dog bites you then don’t hit the dog. Just ask the owner or anyone around for help and seek the medical attention.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

As house sitters we’re often keen to demonstrate our love of animals as soon as we arrive at an assignment. We want to put the home owners at ease by showing an instant bond with the pets we’ll be caring for in their absence.

But, are we sometimes over zealous during this first dog meeting?

How should we approach a dog for the first time?

We asked Gregg Flowers, a Florida-based dog trainer about the best and most effective way to greet a dog for the first time in their own home.

Many people, especially children, get bitten every day and “the greeting” is possibly the most likely circumstance for an “iffy” dog to snap.

It’s important for us dog lovers and house sitters not to allow our zeal to make a new friend get us into trouble because we rushed the encounter. So, be patient and take it slowly.

A good rule of thumb when greeting an unfamiliar dog is – no talking, no touching and no eye contact.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

Body language is everything when approaching a dog

Never rush at a dog with a lot of chatter and frenetic energy upon greeting it. When you meet a dog for the first time, body language is everything – so is your calm energy.

When dealing with dogs, set aside your attachment to human language and customs. This is HIS language and if you want to make his acquaintance in a favorable way that appeals to him, these tips can really help.

Communicate in a way the dog understands

If the dog is with his owner, ask if it’s okay to say hello. Some dogs just don’t like people, and you might save yourself the unpleasantness of dodging teeth by employing the courtesy of simply asking first.

Either way, with or without an owner, when you first greet a dog, keep your breathing easy and relaxed.

Do NOT bend over him (standing over a dog is a dominant posture). Remember even a so-called “short” person is taller than a big dog. Allow him to come to you as you squat without talking to, looking at or touching him.

This body language says, “I’m not a threat”

Looking directly in the face of a dog may be wrongly interpreted as a warning. Remember, he doesn’t know you. One reason small children often get bitten by a dog, is because they are right on eye level with Rover.

No smiling when you meet a new dog

Do not inadvertently show your teeth (as in a smile). A smile to us means ‘friend’, however, showing teeth in dog language says, ‘back off’. Smile after you consummate the greeting process. For a nervous dog your smile might be interpreted as a growl.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

When you approach the dog, don’t do it head on, but rather turn to your side and squat before you get to him. Allow him to close the gap to come and sniff you.

Rescue dogs can be particularly nervous and may need for time to get to know you. Giving them space to do this in their time really helps. You could potentially be seen as a threat, so take it calm and take it easy.

How do I smell to a dog?

Extend the back of your wrist, and when the dog begins to smell you, do not say anything, don’t look at him and don’t pet him. We have plenty of “scent” on the back of our wrist, and an open hand may be misinterpreted by some dogs.

Let him get all the information he needs about you, through sniffing.

After that, you can slowly move your hand under his chin (NOT over his body. That way he can see where your hand is going.)

Don’t reach over a dog to pet him on the top of the head or on his back until you can tell that he enjoys being petted there. Next, pet him gently on the chest or on the side of the face.

When you do ultimately talk to the dog, speak in a monotone, friendly voice and a lower register. Do NOT speak in a high pitched, manic, voice.

Many adults today are afraid of dogs because no grown-up taught them as children the proper way to greet a dog. The result was a bad experience that has stayed with them into their adult life.

The above is all good information for meeting any dog and important counsel to pass on to our little ones. Let’s help make sure they don’t have an experience that perpetuates a fear of dogs in the future.

If you are looking for an online option for learning more about dog training and psychology, we’ve been really impressed by Doggy Dan. Click here for his free 4-part video series to learn more.

If you show can show pet owners that you are calm, in control and respectful of their pets, you’ll quickly win their hearts and reassure them that they’ve picked the best pet sitters to look after their furry friends!

If you want to know more about becoming a house or pet sitter – Go to our getting started page here.

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

We’ve probably all had the experience of asking whether we could pet someone’s dog only to have the dog completely ignore us or try to run away, and it’s not uncommon for adult rescue dogs to be a little aloof at first.

It’s easy to take this personally and think that the dog doesn’t like us, but that’s because we’re looking at it from a human perspective. When two human strangers meet, our rules say that we introduce ourselves and shake hands. Dogs don’t have that rule with other dogs or with humans. Dog socialization is different from human socialization.

Think of the way that a lot people approach a dog for the first time. They talk to the dog, possibly in a high-pitched voice, approach straight on, and reach out toward the dog’s head. Is it any wonder that the dog doesn’t want to have anything to do with the human?

Here are the things you should do to earn a dog’s trust, whether it’s casually meeting a neighbor’s dog on the street or bringing a new dog into your pack.

  1. Stay calm
    It can be tempting to greet a dog with excited energy, but avoid the temptation. If you approach a dog in an excited state, it can make the dog excited and lead to an unwanted greeting, like it jumping up on you. It can also trigger a dog’s fight or flight instinct if a stranger with high energy approaches. Stay calm and speak softly.
  2. Respect their space
    Practice “no touch, no talk, no eye contact.” If you’re asking a stranger whether you can greet their dog, talk to the human and ignore the animal. Also avoid standing too close to the dog. Try to leave at least four feet between you before getting permission to approach.
  3. Get on their level

How to approach an unfamiliar dog

When you do approach the dog, do so from the side and never from the front. Kneel down next to the dog, facing the same direction. You’re now in the dog’s personal space, but in a non-confrontational way. Hold your hand down in a fist, still not making eye contact.

  • Let them come to you
    This is when the dog will let you know if she’s interested. If she sniffs your hand and stays calmly in place, then you can pet her — but pet the front of her chest. Never try to touch an unfamiliar dog from above. If she licks your hand, then she’s accepted you. However, if she turns her head away or doesn’t pay any attention, she’s just not interested. Again, don’t take it personally. Accept it and move on.
  • Go for a walk
    When first meeting a dog that you are going to adopt, the above procedures also apply, and you may need to respect their space and let them come to you for a while after they’ve moved into your home. Remember: in the dog world, the followers approach the leaders and not the other way around.But once you have that new dog in your pack, the best way to earn her trust is to take her on walks. This is where you get to be the Pack Leader in action, and she gets to learn that you are giving her protection and direction. Maintain a calm-assertive state, and your confidence will quickly teach her that she is safe when she’s with you.
  • How did obedience training change your dog’s behavior?

    When kids and dogs get along and respect each other, it’s a beautiful thing. The trust and emotional connection that develps over time is epic and quite profound. As a parent or owner of a dog, you are responsible for teaching kids how to behave around dogs and vice-versa. In many cases if proper training and education are not taken seriously from the beginning, disasters can occur. The safety and well-being of all involved are too important to leave this “fact of life” to chance.

    Teaching Kids How to Behave Around Dogs

    Parenting and pet ownership are not that different so even if you only have one of the fore mentioned participants, inevitably contact with the other will occur at some point so it is very important to take measures to introduce pets to other children or your children to other pets. Households with children and pets have a responsibility to make every effort to properly socialize and teach everyone to be friendly, and gentle with each other.

    Teach your children to have gentle hands when touching animals. You may want to have the child practice by gently “petting” a stuffed dog or a friend or neighbor’s dog that has been deemed friendly. During these times explain to the child that poking, slapping or squeezing can hurt the dog and we must never hurt any animals.

    Even though dogs can’t speak like us dogs have ways of telling us what they like and don’t like. Teach kids how to recognize and interpret a dog’s body language. The internet or the library will have resources and pictures of dogs displaying different kinds of aggressive and non aggressive behavior that you can discuss with your child.

    “Kadie” or Kids and Dogs Interactive Education is an organization that is dedicated to teaching and training kids and dogs how to behave around each other.

    KADIE – Kids And Dogs Interactive Education is the brainchild of M. Cecilia Saleme (CPDT – Certified Pet Dog Trainer) who in her work with families and dogs recognized a need for educating families, especially families without pet dogs, about the correct way to approach unfamiliar dogs. Our curriculum was developed by the collaboration of canine behavior professionals with child psychologists, in order to create age-specific programs that are effective, fun and appropriate.

    You can rest assured that a KADIE certified instructor will teach your children what is appropriate behavior around dogs, and will teach it in a way that helps them to remember.

    Parents also need to teach their children that even the best dogs have basic instincts that can override their usual friendly behavior. To avoid these situations point out that there are some things kids should NEVER do…

    • Never approach a dog without the owner’s permission-even if you already know the dog is friendly.
    • Never jump or yell near a sleeping dog
    • Never run after a dog who wants to get away
    • Never bother a dog that is eating or chewing a bone or toy- Keep Hands Off!
    • Never Stare a dog in the eye for a long time
    • Never play tug of war games or other games that reinforce aggression

    Under these circumstances any animal might feel threatened and the instinct to protect itself could cause sudden aggressive behavior. It is ultimately up to the parents to supervise all interactions between small children and animals. Never risk leaving a child alone with any animal. Most of the time nothing will happen, but why take a chance?

    Teaching kids how to behave around dogs is a big responsibility that pays off big time. Over and over, I’ve seen when children get involved in the basic care and feeding routines and engage in healthy play and exercise with their pets they learn responsibility and empathy towards others besides themselves. It also sends the message to the dog that your child’s place in the pack is above the dogs which is important for overall safety.

    Have you had any experiences with children and dogs that you’d like to share?

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    How to Approach Your Dog When He/She Is Lost

    How to Approach Your Dog When He/She Is Lost

    How to Approach Your Dog When He/She Is Lost

    Even though your dog, Snickers, has only been missing for three days, you are worried you’ll never see her again. You promise yourself you’ll never get another dog because, obviously, you can’t be trusted. You are wondering why, WHY DID YOU ASK THE NEIGHBOR’S TEENAGER TO WALK SNICKERS WHILE YOU WERE ON VACATION? And why, why did the kid decide to go jogging with Snickers without putting her leash on? You are worried about the kid’s generation being able to lead the country while you are in your retirement years when you suddenly see a familiar shape three yards over from yours. You recognize her instantly – it’s Snickers!

    You are tempted to run out of the door and call her to you, but you resist that temptation when you see her run from the neighbor’s children…children Snickers has always loved playing with. What if she runs from you, too? Could she have forgotten the family, the community that loves her after only three days? Now what?

    Well, if your dog is lost and you see her, you are 100% right to pause, collect yourself, and, above all, calm yourself down. You’ll be excited to see your dog, of course, but your dog may be equally anxious to protect herself from what she perceives to be threats, including you. And, she may run as far away from you as possible.

    If she does, make sure you are prepared for the next time you see your pet. Load your car with non-perishable goodies and toys she normally enjoys so you can use them to lure your dog to you the next time you see her. Make sure you have enough goodies…it may take quite a few treats to convince your dog to come to you. Make sure you always have a leash at your disposal and a spare collar as well in case your dog has lost hers during her travels.
    When you arrive at the scene of where your dog was most recently seen, remain calm…and quiet. Don’t honk your car’s horn, slam its doors, or start yelling your dog’s name. Simply arrive and let your dog get used to you being in the vicinity of her. Talk to her quietly, using words and phrases that remind her of the comfort and happiness you’ve given her throughout her life. Say things like, “Wanna go for a walk?” Or, “It’s dinnertime!”

    Remember to be patient as you literally inch closer and closer to your dog and pay close attention to the clues your pet is giving you about your approach. If your dog braces as if she’s preparing to run away, stop moving and lower yourself to the ground. When your dog is calm again, try to get a bit closer to her by walking slowly in a sideways direction with your arms at your sides. Use your lips to smile, not your teeth, so your dog doesn’t think you are growling at her. Also, don’t look directly at your dog or stare at her as a predator would.

    As you are getting close enough to your dog to use the treats you brought to lure her to you, assume a submissive position by getting as close to the ground as possible as you continue your advance – consider crawling, if necessary. By doing this and using positive tones when you speak to your pet, you will demonstrate that you are not a threat to her well-being. When you’re within throwing distance, your pet will be able to see and smell the food you’ve brought for her.

    Gently and slowly toss some treats in the direction of your dog without hitting her. Hold your eyes closed and move your head down and off to the side to show your dog that you are not going to challenge her for the food. Do this repeatedly until your dog is comfortable with your proximity to her.

    When your dog has finished the first round of treats, throw a few more, but make sure they land farther from her and closer to you. Give your dog praise with every step she takes closer to you, even if it’s only to get some food. Pretend you are eating some of the treats you still have at the ready, too. Lick your lips and tell your dog how good the treats are…and ask her if she wants some more.

    When your dog is finally close enough to you for you to get a hold of, you will have to make a choice about how to secure your pet. You can offer more treats in one hand while attaching a leash to your dog’s collar with your other one. Or, you can grasp your pet’s collar, quickly taking in any slack. Or, you can rub your dog’s muzzle while attaching her leash to her collar.

    If your dog’s collar is no longer around her neck, put the end of her leash through the wrist loop at the top, and loop the end of the leach around your wrist several times while holding it securely in your hand. The leash will act as a slip lead and tighten once it’s around your dog’s neck.

    If you’re dog hasn’t been seen, but you know where your dog is likely to be while she is lost, find a spot in the vicinity where you can wait with some treats and her favorite toys. When you hear your dog coming, put out some treats that will lead her to you.

    If you have people who are helping you find your dog, make sure they don’t distract her while you are trying to lure her to you. Your dog should be focused on you and you alone. Instruct your helpers to assume discreet positions that will enable them to see where your dog was going in case she runs away from you. Make sure you give your friends and family members enough treats for them to try to lure your pet to them in case she gets close enough to their positions.

    If a dog is new to your family, whether you’ve just taken in a foster or adopted an unfamiliar dog, help your new pet to start trusting you and to learn your unique scent by putting food and water out in the same location every single day she is lost. Talk to the dog, address her by name even if it’s a new one. Try to bond with your dog even if you can’t see her. If you are consistent with your efforts, it’s likely your dog will eventually get close enough to you for you to bring her back to the home she may only be seeing for the first time!

    Hooray! You found a dog on Get Your Pet that you’re interested in adopting. You’ve messaged their Guardian, introduced yourself, and asked all the right questions. They seem like a great fit. Now comes the fun part—meeting them! Here are some do’s and don’ts for meeting a dog for the first time.

    How to approach an unfamiliar dog

    Do: Let the dog approach you

    When meeting a dog, it’s important to be calm and go slow. Your first instinct may be to run towards the dog with open arms, but not so fast! Approaching a dog in this way may startle them, and it can come off as intimidating. Instead, hold a natural stance, and allow the dog to come to you. You want to avoid coming across as fearful, however, as this can lead the dog to be defensive. Be careful, yet confident, when meeting a dog for the first time.

    Do: Let the dog sniff you

    Introducing yourself to a new dog is all about understanding the dog’s instincts. Dogs have an extremely keen sense of smell. They use scent to understand, and make decisions about, their environment. In just a few sniffs, a dog can get a feel for the gender, health, and even the history of another dog. When a dog sniffs a person, they can determine whether that person has a dog of their own, where in the neighborhood the person might live, and more. They can also pick up on a person’s unique scent to jog their memory as to whether and when they’ve met before! To let a dog sniff you, don’t extend your hand to their face. Instead, let the dog approach you and sniff your hand on their own terms.

    Don’t: Pet him on the head

    When first meeting a dog, always take care to respect their boundaries. Petting on the head can be threatening for a dog, especially when the person petting them is a complete stranger. Rather than reach for his head right away, start by petting them gently on their back or shoulders. Then, you can work your way towards their face if they are comfortable with it.

    Do: Pay attention to body language

    Just like humans, dogs communicate through body language. When it comes to decoding dog body language, we have a few tips. In general, things like a curved body, wagging tail, and excitedly circling around you is a good sign; it means they want to get to know you. Bowing down with front legs extended is a gesture that says “Play with me!”. Watch out for anything that could indicate an aggressive or threatening mood, like showing teeth or a stiff, erect tail. It’s also important to note that all dogs react differently to stress. Some may express discomfort or anxiety by licking their lips or yawning. This is considered normal behavior for a dog who is put in a stressful or unfamiliar situation.

    Do: Use a calm, low voice when meeting a dog

    It’s common for people to use “baby talk” when first meeting a dog but the correct way to approach a dog is to speak in your normal voice. Keep it calm and low. Using a higher pitched voice can signal weakness as well as stress out the dog. Establish your relationship right from the start by emanating confidence and respect for any new dog you meet.

    Kids and Dogs: Who doesn’t love a cute dog? Those puppy eyes and soft fur and unconditional love are only a few ways dogs have made it to man’s best friend status. Kids, and all people really, see a cuddly dog and their first thought is to approach it. This is especially true if they have a furry friend at home and feel safe in their presence, but not all dogs are safe to approach. For this reason, it’s imperative to know how to approach a dog, whether they are encountered at the park, on a walk or at a friend’s home.

    Please be aware, even if you have met this dog in the past, still always approach cautiously. The dog might not recognize you right away if you meet up somewhere other than where the dog is used to seeing you. Just as we do, dogs have bad days: they may be in pain, stressed by an earlier situation or in an unfamiliar area. In those cases, a dog would react much differently than when you met them on your friend’s couch.

    Here are some great tips for kids and dogs:

      Never approach a dog, let the dog approach you. Even if the adult with the dog says it’s okay to pet the dog, the dog might not want touched. Ask the dog and let the dog choose if it wants to interact with you. Do this by patting your leg and asking the dog if they want interaction by saying, “Here puppy, here puppy.” If the dog comes to you, they are open to interaction.

    Slowly walk sideways toward the dog – don’t walk directly at them or reach out to the dog, as this could be seen as an aggressive or threatening move. Have your hand next to you and not reaching towards the dog. You want the dog to understand that you will do him no harm. Remember, the dog doesn’t know you, either. Make a fist and hold it down at your side and allow the dog to sniff it. You’re less likely to be severely injured with a closed fist than an open hand.

    When first meeting a dog, begin by petting under the chin. It’s more difficult for a dog to turn its head downwards quickly; whereas, if your hand is above their head, they can reach up to bite you with ease. Parents: always have your hand over the hand of your child if they are petting a dog. This way you can tell how rough the child is petting and you also protect your child’s hand with your own should the dog turn to bite. Teach children to pet slowly, gently, from shoulder to tail, but never to pull or tug the tail.

    Start by only petting the dog for 3 seconds. If the dog wants more, they will lean in or move to the petting hand. This may seem like a very short time, but think of how long someone gives a handshake when first meeting another person. At this point, you’re simply introducing yourself to the dog.

    Don’t excitedly run up to a dog or allow your child to do so. An unknown dog could be aggressive to people, or not like children, or not have experience with children. Timid or shy dogs will react out of fear and can become aggressive.

    Don’t stare directly into the dog’s eyes; they can see that as a challenge and react negatively. You don’t know this dog, and this dog doesn’t know you. Don’t come up behind a dog or startle it.

    Allow personal space! Never put your face in a dog’s face! Don’t try to hug a dog, especially around the neck, or lean over a dog or attempt to pick up their feet to “shake” or manipulate the dog in any way.

  • Don’t force dogs to do something they don’t want to do – even if your dog at home tolerates a behavior, that doesn’t mean all dogs would. Don’t grab at their face, tails or paws. If you notice the pet is moving away from you, licking their lips, getting wide eyed or continually yawning, these could be signs the dog is becoming stressed and it’s time to end the visit. If the dog becomes instantly stiff and freezes move away immediately – they are planning to lunge or bite.
  • Some dogs are friendly and open to interaction and some are not, just like people. A dog could be stressed, in pain, or not used to children. Kids and dogs can get along well. Knowing how to approach a dog and how to respect their space will go a long way in reducing the number of bite incidents each year.

    Article provided by Comfort at Home Pet Services, Pittsburgh’s first and ONLY Certified Pet Services Company, offers professional, reliable, and affordable care for your pets. They have lots of information about kids and dogs!

    Read more New Mommy Pittsburgh articles here!

    Getting fit and training with your dog does take many to new areas, trails, and urban settings. Of course this leads to unfamiliar situations and dogs. Being prepared will make your experience more fun as well as a safer journey for you and your dog.

    Loose dogs that may not “play well with others”

    … sometimes that means aggressive towards other dogs…. and sometimes in some areas that could mean towards people as well, are something you should know how to deal with and feel safe doing it.

    Dog Walking Safety Tips: Keeping You and Your Dog Safe While Walking Outdoors

    by Meg Getchel – Co-owner, Safeguard Self Defense

    Walking your dog is one of the best ways you and your pooch can spend time together. During daily walks, your dog can get the physical exercise they need and so can you! They will know they are loved and can stay healthy. But, before you head out to the great outdoors, it’s important to know how to stay safe during your dog walk.
    Here are a few tips to help you keep yourself and your dog safe while walking outdoors:

    • Before you even venture out on your walk, be sure you have an overall plan of where you’re going. Think about where you’ll walk and if the area allows dogs. Some areas hand out hefty fines for dog walking, so think ahead.
    • When trying to decide where you’ll walk your pet, be sure to think about if you prefer walking the dog on a leash or unleashed. Most cities do require a dog to be leashed at all times. However, many walking trails in the woods will allow you to unleash your dog if you feel comfortable doing so. Be sure to abide by all rules of leashing while on your dog walk.
      If you do plan to use a leash, be sure the leash you’re using is comfortable for you and the dog. Also ensure there are no damages or defects in the leash, to avoid problems while walking.
    • Along the same lines, it’s important for you to make sure the dog’s collar fits properly. A dog can suffer physical damage during a walk if their collar is too tight and they can also get away if it’s too loose.
    • Take long plenty of water for both you and your pooch. When on your walk, it’s important you and your dog stay completely hydrated. To stay healthy, be sure to stop often to rest, find shade to sit in and have plenty of water for you and the dog. A travel bowl might be useful for your dog unless you’ve trained him to drink from a bottle.
    • In case you do stumble into trouble, be sure you are carrying identification. This goes for both you and your pet. Your dog’s tags should be up to date and if you want extra identification verification you can even choose to microchip the dog. It’s quite safe and painless for the pet.
    • To ensure your safety if a loose dog attack does occur while you’re on your daily walk, it’s a great idea to carry dog pepper spray with you at all times. You can get handy dog pepper spray products that will even fit on your key chain (like this Muzzle spray for dogs), which allow you to be protected without loaded down.

    Remember, if you do find yourself in contact with a loose dog you should never try to outrun it. Simply stand tall (don’t crouch down toward it), spread out your arms wide and take a step toward it. If you don’t have dog pepper spray handy, this can help you “signal” the dog that you’re larger and more aggressive than they thought. These signals can be enough to deter the dog from attacking you.

    Healthy Living Wag Report

    Keep the things that are important to you like getting fit, having fun with the dog and generally wagging more in life coming to the top of your inbox by subscribing to the Healthy Living Wag Report. Keep on getting out there with your dog and my dogs love retweets! Push the green button for us!

    How to approach an unfamiliar dogSomething that I struggle with as the owner of an anxious dog is individuals who aren’t familiar with the proper etiquette of how to approach someone with a dog.

    Jet is a nervous dog. He is also a senior dog with poor eyesight. That means that when strangers come barrelling towards him, he becomes even more fearful than the average dog would.

    More unfortunately, since Jet is a labrador, many parents are under the impression that he is a big goofball who loves kids and showers affection on everyone. This often leads to strangers allowing their children to run as fast as they can towards my dog with arms wide open.

    What happens when that happens? Because I know my dog, I can step in and stop the situation before it escalates. What would happen if I didn’t step in? I know from experience that MY dog would cower, urinate, tuck his tail, and growl. He may also opt to hightail it out of there which means either dislocating my shoulder or dragging me across a busy road full of traffic because as well trained as he is, that primal fear will win EVERY time.

    We have done EVERYTHING in our power to work with Jet on being a more confident, less fearful, and less anxious dog. Unfortunately, he retains a certain degree of anxiety and fear that we have had to learn to work with. What makes working with this fear more difficult is people who fail to follow proper doggy etiquette – these people reinforce for my dog that there IS something out there to be afraid of. These unpredictable, personal space invading, loud and grabby people are the proverbial monster under the bed for my boy.

    So what IS proper doggy etiquette?

    How to Approach Someone with a Dog

    How to approach an unfamiliar dog

    How to Approach Someone With a Dog When You Are Alone

    Get the individual’s attention in a non-threatening manner – “Excuse me!”

    Ask permission to approach and introduce yourself to their dog – “Would it be okay if I said hello to your dog?”

    If they say no – “no problem, sorry to have bothered you!”

    If they say yes – approach slowly without looking the dog in the eye, come to the side of the dog rather than in front of them, stand or squat beside the dog but don’t bend over them.

    If the dog shows any signs of fear, anxiety, or aggression, step away immediately and do not try to reapproach.

    If the dog holds a friendly and welcoming posture, offer the back of your closed fist to the dog so that they may “investigate” you. If they remain welcoming to you, you may pet them on the shoulders, or back. Do not pet them on the head or near the mouth. Refrain from eye contact.

    Be mindful of the dog’s owner, talk with them while petting their dog rather than ignoring them. Also be aware that the dog’s owner may be on a timeline so don’t detain them for an hour just so that you can pet their dog!

    How to approach an unfamiliar dog

    How to Approach Someone With a Dog When You Have a Child

    If you are with a child, approach the situation as you would above. Be sure to let the dog’s owner know that you have a child who would like to say hello just in case the dog’s owner has not noticed your child.

    Do not wait until you are within arms reach of the dog before asking to approach.

    Do not let your child run towards a dog.

    Keep hold of your child’s hand at all times.

    If the dog owner asks you not to approach, be sure to give them a wide berth and don’t take it personally, the dog’s owner is keeping you and your child’s safety in mind.

    If the dog owner allows you to approach, supervise your child constantly. Guide them in how to properly introduce themselves to the dog and ensure that they are being gentle.

    At no time should you take your eye off your child when they are interacting with a dog.

    How to approach an unfamiliar dog

    How to Approach Someone With a Dog When You Have a Dog

    If you are out with your dog and spot someone out with their dog it can be tempting to dart over and say hello. PLEASE don’t.

    While a dog is leashed it creates a number of possible situations…

    • Approaching a dog you and your dog are unfamiliar with creates an unpredictable situation which puts everyone on edge increasing the likelihood of conflict.
    • When your dog is on their leash they aren’t able to carry out “normal routines” involved with greeting other dogs. When you interfere with this “routine” miscommunication and confusion can arise.
    • On leash, your dog has minimal control of a situation. When feeling threatened, there is the option of lunging (the “fight” reflex) – something no one wants! There is the option to flee if the “flight” mechanism kicks in, but there is a strict limitation on how far they can flee which increases stress. Being on leash also forces your dog to be within close proximity of another dog, forcing interaction which may not be wanted.

    How to approach an unfamiliar dog

    How to Approach Someone With Multiple Dogs or When You Have Multiple Dogs

    It really is that simple.

    In addition to it being a very bad idea to introduce dogs while on leash, in order for you to have full control over a situation, you need to have a ratio of one human to one dog. Once that ratio gets any higher, control over any situation is limited.

    How to approach an unfamiliar dog

    How to Approach Someone With a Dog and a Child or a Dog and Baggage

    With multiple things keeping them busy, this person does not have full control over their dog so it is best not to approach.

    If you are alone and may be able to offer assistance, for example, someone leaving the pet store with a large bag of food, a dog, and a child, ask if there is anything you can do to help. If the person accepts your offer, ask them what you can do to help. If the person refuses your help just go about your day!

    How to approach an unfamiliar dog

    How to Approach Someone With a Dog Who is Avoiding Eye Contact or Moving Away

    Avoiding eye contact or moving away from you is a subtle indication that this person does not want to be approached for whatever reason. It may be that the person is anxious or it may be that their dog is not accepting of being approached, but whatever it is, respect the dog owners wishes.

    A Final Note on How to Approach Someone With a Dog

    If you have a dog who does not do well in public situations, be mindful of this. Consult a behavioral trainer to help you to work on this and in the meantime avoid putting your dog in any situation where they could become reactive. If you do need to go somewhere, for example, the vet, consider muzzling your dog and investing in a harness with a “Do Not Approach” patch or a leash flag with the same message.

    Your dog is your responsibility which means that you need to protect them as well as the safety of those around them.

    Dogs are man’s best friend, but it can take time to become best friends. You probably wouldn’t approach a stranger at a party and scratch their hair or pat their head without asking permission first, and the same goes for dogs. Similarly, you wouldn’t approach an angry screaming person, so you shouldn’t approach an angry barking dog. But since dogs can’t talk, they mostly communicate with us through body language (and, sometimes, barking). Additionally, most dog aggression is a response to fear.

    Let’s run through what to look for and how to safely approach a dog.

    Ask for Permission

    Some dogs will rely on their owner to act as their spokesperson. Remember, an owner knows their dog better than anyone and probably knows if or when their dog doesn’t want attention. So always ask the owner if it’s okay to approach their dog – something like “Would he like a pat?” or “Is it okay for me to say hello?”. Most dog owners will be flattered and permit you. Some might even tell you their dog’s name and favorite spot to be scratched. But if the owner says no – whether it be due to fear, aggression, pain, or training – then it’s essential that you respect that decision. Even if the dog is adorable or seems to have friendly body language, you should never press on against an owner’s wishes.

    Go Slow and Let the Dog Approach You

    Once the owner has given you the go-ahead, it’s always a good idea to ask the dog’s permission too. How do you safely approach a dog? Firstly, be patient and wait for the dog to approach you first. Some dogs will come up to you asking for a pat. If they don’t, think about slowly lowering your hand in a fist. Remember, dogs have a powerful sense of smell and often want to sniff you to get to know you. Warning signs that a dog may not want you to play with them include:

    – Shying away from you

    – Hiding behind their owner

    – Growling or bearing teeth

    – Ears pinned back

    Even if the owner encourages you to pat their dog, always respect the dog’s decision too. If they seem frightened or disinterested, it’s always best to refrain. If you push the issue, you could quickly end up with an angry barking dog.

    Use Dog-Appropriate Actions

    If the dog approaches you, sniffs your hand, licks you, or even rolls over, then it’s probably okay to proceed. Just like before, always move slowly and calmly. Consider slowly lowering your body height so that you’re not looming over the dog. Limit your pats to the dog’s side, neck, back, and chest. Never restrain an unfamiliar dog with a hug or cuddle – they might tolerate this from a family member, but probably not from you. Use a gentle, high-pitched voice and avoid direct eye contact (some dogs find this threatening).

    As you go, always read the dog’s body language to make sure they’re still enjoying it. Communicate with the owner, too, so you know when enough is enough. Hopefully, by this point, it’ll be clear that you’ve made a new friend!

    Be Careful

    A dog on a leash is just as cute as a dog running on the loose. Most people will often feel obliged to approach and restrain a lost dog (or a dog that seems lost) in the hope of reuniting the pup with their family. But always be particularly careful with stray or lost dogs. They may be very anxious and scared and more likely to bite. All of the points mentioned above still apply to stray or lost dogs. Consider using dog treats to encourage these dogs to approach you – lots of dogs are very food-motivated!

    The more time you spend around dogs, the better you’ll get at assessing their body language. Always ask for permission, proceed slowly, and hold off if it doesn’t feel right. If your dog seems anxious with strangers, or even barks at them, see our article on fixing this issue.

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    Our focus is finding the best products for your pet. With the pet industry being so saturated with products, it is hard to find the most suitable product for your pet. We understand that your pet’s health and wellbeing is the important factor. We want to provide one platform for pet parents to find all the resources they need to provide the best care for their furry friend.

    How to approach an unfamiliar dog

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    How to approach an unfamiliar dog

    The Spruce / Jiaqi Zhou

    Dogs are everywhere, so preventing dog bites is a necessity. Although some dogs are friendlier than others, any dog is capable of biting, regardless of its breed or size. Even the nicest dog may snap or bite when it’s injured or afraid.

    All children and adults should learn how to keep themselves safe around dogs, but it’s important to understand that the dog’s owner is ultimately responsible for its behavior. Fortunately, it’s possible to stop your dog from biting someone if you take the proper measures. Responsible dog ownership and education of the public are the keys to keeping everyone safe.

    Why Do Dogs Bite?

    Most often, dogs bite people when they feel threatened in some way. It’s a natural instinct that’s still present in domesticated dogs. This is why it’s important for everyone who interacts with a dog to understand what may provoke this aggressive behavior.

    • A dog may bite to defend itself, its territory, or a member of its pack. A mother dog fiercely protects her puppies as well.
    • Startling a dog by waking it up or suddenly approaching it from behind can provoke it to bite.
    • Running away from a dog, even during play, can likewise provoke a bite. The dog may think it’s part of the fun, or running away could trigger herding behavior or predatory pursuit in some breeds.
    • A dog that’s in a fearful situation may bite anyone who approaches it. Such a situation may be something as severe as being abused or abandoned by the side of the road, or it may be something you perceive as ordinary such as a loud noise.
    • Injury and illness are common reasons as well. If a dog isn’t feeling well or is in pain, it may not even want to be approached or touched by its favorite people.

    Understand dog body language and the fact that most dogs show specific warning signs before biting. These include growling, snapping, raised fur, a rigid posture, and rapid tail wagging. Stay aware of these as a dog owner and when interacting with any dog.

    How to Stop Dog Bites

    As a dog owner, you must take responsibility for training your dog and keeping it under control at all times. You’re responsible for your dog’s behavior and are the first line of defense in preventing dog bites. It’s important that you do whatever you can to keep others safe and keep your dog from biting:

    • Put your dog through basic training at the very least and continue to keep up your dog’s training program throughout its life to reinforce the lessons you’ve taught it.
    • Socialize your dog. Allow your dog to meet and interact with different types of people, including children, disabled people, and older people under calm, positive circumstances.
    • Expose your dog regularly to a variety of situations such as other dogs, loud noises, large machines, bicycles, or anything else that might spark fear. Start this training with your dog at the youngest age possible and keep the experiences positive.
    • Pay attention to your dog and know when things may be leading to aggression. If you can’t control the situation or your dog’s behavior, you may have to remove your dog before things get out of hand.
    • Don’t discipline your dog by using physical, violent, or aggressive punishment. Opt for positive reinforcement—praise and treats—before resorting to the use of aversives, such as shock collars and loud noises, to discipline undesirable behavior. Consistently rewarding your dog for desirable behavior is far more effective because dogs aim to please their people.
    • Always keep your dog on a leash or in a fenced area. Know your dog well before letting it off its leash in permitted areas. Keep your dog in sight at all times.
    • If you suspect or know that your dog has fearful or aggressive tendencies, always warn others. Don’t allow your dog to approach people and other animals unless the situation is strictly controlled. Use a muzzle if necessary.
    • Keep your dog’s vaccinations current, especially its rabies vaccination, and visit your vet routinely for wellness checkups.

    How to Interact Safely With a Dog

    Dogs are cute and often friendly, so it’s easy to get excited when you see one. However, a dog can quickly turn on someone it doesn’t know.

    Even if you don’t have a dog of your own, it’s important for you and other people in your sphere, including children, to know how to interact with dogs and how and when to approach one.

    • Never try to approach or touch an unfamiliar dog without first asking for the owner’s permission. If the dog’s owner isn’t present, don’t go near the dog.
    • Never approach a dog that’s eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies. Dogs in these situations are more likely to be protective and are easily startled.
    • Don’t approach, touch, or attempt to move an injured dog. Instead, contact a veterinary professional or animal control for assistance.
    • Never leave a young child or a baby alone with any dog for any reason.
    • When you’re meeting an unknown dog, allow the dog to come to you. Crouch down or turn to the side. Let it sniff your hand before you pet it.
    • Don’t put your face near an unknown dog; this includes “hugs and kisses.”
    • If you’re cornered by a dog, remain still and avoid eye contact. Never run or scream. When the dog stops paying attention to you, slowly back away.
    • If you’re knocked over by a dog, fall to your side in a fetal position and cover your head and face. Remain very still and calm.

    If Your Dog Bites Someone

    If your dog bites a person, it’s important to act quickly. First, confine the dog and then immediately assist the victim. The victim should wash the bite thoroughly with soap and warm water, if possible, and then seek immediate medical attention.

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    Responsiveness of adult pet dogs (Canis familiaris) to an unfamiliar human was observed in two studies. Subjects were faced with an approaching woman (Stranger) who showed definite signs of friendliness and threat during alternate approaches. Observations consisted of two episodes: the Stranger either approached the dog in normal speed of walk while talking to it and finally petted it gently (Friendly approach episode) or she moved slowly and haltingly and looked steadily into the eyes of the dog without any verbal communication (Threatening approach episode).

    In the first study 30 dogs of 19 different breeds were tested in the two episodes in a balanced sequential order. The dogs acted appropriately according to the different human behaviour cues. The order of the Friendly/Threatening approaches had no significant effect on the dogs’ responsivity.

    In the second experiment 60 dogs of three breed groups (20 Belgian shepherds, 20 retrievers and 20 sled dogs) were first ‘greeted friendly’ and then approached ‘threateningly’ by the same Stranger. Results show significant breed specific differences in the responsivity when dogs faced an apparent switch of the human behaviour cues. Compared to retrievers and sled dogs, Belgian shepherds more frequently changed their response, showing passive or active avoidance or sign of aggression when approached threateningly.

    While sex differences were not found, breed comparisons suggest that selective breeding (i.e. for hunting or shepherd work) influenced the dogs’ sensitivity to human social cues in different ways. Results also support the hypothesis that human influence (domestication) has led to extreme flexibility of the dogs’ situation-relevant behaviour while interacting with an unfamiliar human.

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    Social referencing is known to occur in dogs when they face an unknown object.

    We investigated if this phenomenon exists when dogs face an unknown person.

    We found that dogs behaved differently according to their owners’ reaction.

    If the owners moved back, dogs took longer to interact with the stranger.

    Dogs present social referencing when facing a stranger, as do toddlers.

    When confronted with an unfamiliar object, dogs, Canis familiaris, engage in social referencing, i.e. synchronizing their reaction with that of their owner. The question of whether, like infants, they do so when confronted with an unfamiliar person, has not yet been studied. We tested the reactions of 72 pet dogs (36 shepherds and 36 molossoids) that were confronted with an unfamiliar person who approached them in a neutral manner. The dogs’ owners were instructed to behave in one of three ways towards the stranger: stay still, approach or retreat. The dogs performed referential looks and gaze alternations between the experimenter and their owner. In the retreat condition, the dogs looked at the stranger significantly sooner and took significantly more time before first contact with the stranger compared to the approach condition. Moreover, in the retreat condition the dogs interacted more with their owners compared to other conditions. Additionally, sex had an effect on dogs’ behaviours, with males looking towards their owner for information less than females. Breed also influenced dogs’ reactions, with molossoid dogs behaving more independently than shepherd dogs. This study shows that pet dogs use social referencing with their owner in an approach paradigm involving a stranger. These findings provide evidence of similar processes in dogs with their owners and human infants with caregivers, and suggest a new way to manage dogs’ reactions in public places.

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    How to approach an unfamiliar dog

    Socializing your dog through puppyhood and adolescence is one of the best ways to ensure that they become a friendly and confident adult.

    The greatest window of learning in a dog’s life starts around 3 weeks of age and closes between 16 and 20 weeks. This period allows puppies to be exposed to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, and sensations without becoming fearful. Puppies who miss out on these experiences may never learn to be comfortable around unfamiliar things, paving the way for anxiety, fear, and aggression later on in life. Follow these steps to give your puppy the best start possible:


    Young puppies should be cuddled and handled daily by as many different people as possible. Keep the contact gentle and pleasant for the puppy. Hold the puppy in different positions, gently finger her feet, rub her muzzle, stroke her back and sides, look in her ears.


    Acclimate your puppy to lots of different sounds, being careful not to overwhelm him with too much noise too fast. Expose him to kitchen sounds, telephones ringing, children playing, sportscasters yelling on TV, radios playing, buses moving by, and so on.

    Food bowl exercises

    Teach your puppy to enjoy having people approach her bowl while she’s eating. This will help to prevent resource guarding, which occurs when dogs feel anxious about others approaching their own valued resources. Walk up to your puppy while she’s eating her food, drop an even tastier treat into her dish, and walk away. Repeat once or twice during each meal until your puppy is visibly excited about your approach. Then walk up, physically pick up her dish, put in a treat, give the dish back, and walk away.

    Teach your puppy to be alone

    Puppies should learn to tolerate being completely separate from other people and animals every day to avoid developing separation anxiety. Learn more about preventing separation anxiety in puppies.

    Prevent aggression

    There’s no need to show the dog who’s boss or try to dominate him. Confrontational approaches like pinning your dog down or scruffing him frequently backfire and create the aggression dog owners seek to avoid. Focus on rewarding correct behavior and preventing undesirable behavior to teach your puppy human rules and build a trusting relationship.

    Introduce your puppy to new people

    Introduce your puppy to several new people every day, keeping the interactions pleasant and unthreatening. Focus especially on setting up pleasant encounters with unfamiliar men and well-behaved children.

    Prevent biting

    Provide appropriate toys to redirect your puppy’s biting. When your puppy bites too hard during play, making a sudden noise (“Ow!”) and end the game to help him learn to use his mouth gently. Never squeeze your puppy’s mouth shut, yell at him, or hold him down. This will frighten him and likely make biting worse. Note that while puppies under five months tend to explore the world with their mouths, dogs past this age are considered adolescents and should no longer be play biting.

    Though a dog’s sensitive period of socialization typically ends around 4-5 months old, we recommend continuing to socialize your dog for at least the first year of their life.

    Keep introducing your dog to new people

    Dogs only remain social when continually exposed to unfamiliar people. Continued pleasant exposure to new people keeps the idea that strangers are good news in the forefront of your dog’s mind.

    Keep introducing your dog to other dogs

    There are lots of ways to do this: dog parks, play groups, play dates with friends’ dogs, and simple leash walks can all help accomplish this. Without this experience, dogs can lose their ability to know how to behave appropriately around other dogs.

    Vary your walks

    Try to avoid taking the same walking route every day. Let your dog experience a variety of environments, from sidewalks to dirt roads. This will provide your growing dog with much-needed mental stimulation.

    Teach your dog to be alone

    Scheduling daily alone time with neither people nor other pets nearby is critical to preventing separation anxiety. Use a baby gate or crates to prevent your dog from shadowing you constantly when you’re home. Ask a friend to pet sit for an hour regularly.

    Don’t punish fear

    Most displays of aggression are the result of fear. Many owners are caught off guard when their normally easygoing pup reacts fearfully to a new dog or person. However, this change often coincides with the end of the sensitive period of socialization. Starting around 5 months old, your dog may start to interpret anything unfamiliar as a threat and will typically either flee or confront what frightens him. Punishing this reaction will only confirm his fear, so instead remove your dog from the situation and ask for a different behavior (like “sit”).

    Continue handling your dog

    Make sure your dog is comfortable with different parts of his body being handled. This will ensure that if he must be handled in an emergency he will be less likely to bite. Be on the watch for a stiff body, whites of the eyes showing, a closed mouth, and escape attempts. If you see these signs, stop handling your dog.

    “I need to socialize my three-year-old dog. How do I do that?” We hear this question frequently because owners want to give their dogs the fullest life possible, which many assume includes play with other dogs. In reality, adult dogs can lead perfectly happy lives without visits to the dog park or off-leash play.

    Play in puppies vs. adult dogs

    Off-leash play is beneficial to puppies learning behavior cues, but the same practice can have detrimental effects on adult dogs. While there are exceptions, when dogs reach social maturity between ages one and three, they often no longer enjoy playing with large groups of unfamiliar dogs. They may either attempt to avoid the dogs, stand close to their human family, or even growl and snap at boisterous young dogs that come too close to them. This behavior is often misidentified as abnormal, when in fact it is quite common.

    Setting up playtime for your adult dog

    If your heart is set on social time with other dogs, start by introducing your dog to one dog at a time. Invite a friend to bring her gentle, easygoing dog on a walk with you and your dog. Allow a polite distance between dogs while they get accustomed to each other. If both dogs appear relaxed throughout the walk, allow them to sniff each other briefly. Keep leashes loose and each interaction short. If either dog appears to be tensing up, call the dogs apart with pleasant, relaxed voices. If both dogs’ bodies appear loose and tails are wagging, consider an off-leash session in one of your fenced yards with leashes dragging, using the same short sessions and reinforcement for relaxed behavior.

    Dealing with leash aggression in your adult dog

    If your dog lunges, pulls toward or barks at other dogs on walks, you know how stressful and embarrassing it can be. Learn more about the causes and prevention of leash aggression.

    Things to keep handy:

    • Slip lead (collars can fall off and if you are unable to grab their collar this is very handy)
    • Treats/other smelly food
    • Do NOT just grab the dog. Sudden movements could scare them and even a normally friendly dog could bite.
    • Do NOT run after a dog. Giving chase is only going to cause them to bolt. If it’s a playful dog you could instead try running AWAY from them. Sometimes they will give chase. You can also try sitting or laying down or even just turning so your side is facing them. You want to do everything you can to convey you are not a threat. Even if it’s your dog and they know you, in a stressful situation they might not see you as their owner, but simply a scary person trying to grab them.
    • Do NOT sneak up on them. If you scare them they could bite or bolt. Make a small noise like clearing your throat to make them aware that you are there.
    • Do NOT make direct eye contact. It is intimidating to dogs.
    • Do NOT feed stray dogs. Food can be a great motivator and it makes it difficult for the owner to use food to lure them into a live trap or even back towards home if they have a full tummy.
    • DO call animal control or the sheriff’s department, especially if you feel uncomfortable pursuing a stray dog you have spotted. If it’s your dog it is great to make them aware you have a missing dog in case they happen to find them.
    • DO keep your surroundings in mind. Be mindful of roads or potential hazards nearby and be careful not to scare them into the road. This is another reason chasing the dog is dangerous. You never know where they will run.
    • DO move slowly and speak softly to scared dogs. Whistling and calling to them could scare them away. Check out this fantastic video on how to use calming signals.
    • DO let them come to you. If you push them, there is a good chance they will bolt. Try turning sideways and tossing them a couple treats.
    • DO safely trap them in an area like a yard if possible. Be careful not to corner them as if they are scared this could cause them to lash out.
    • DO play with a ball or frisbee, but ignore the dog. They may approach in hopes of some playtime.
    • DO leave out food, their bed, a t shirt or something of yours that will smell like you. This can help lure them back.
    • DO post to social media. Your local humane society (CCHS for Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw County) and other lost and found pages (like Lost & Found Paws of the U.P.) are ways to get the word out about a lost pet. Include in your post:
      • Recent photo or description if you do not have one
      • Location lost
      • Your contact information

    Other tips and things to consider:

    • As much as you may want to gather everyone you know and go searching for them, if they are scared this might just cause them to run farther and farther away. Some dogs are more likely to return to a quiet, calm place rather than come to a ton of people yelling for them. Live traps can be a great option for scared dogs. Stinky food and a t shirt or something that smells like you are great things to leave in the trap. Be sure to check it OFTEN especially in very hot or cold conditions. If you aren’t able to check it often do not leave the trap set.
    • If you don’t have food on you you can crinkle a bag and pretend you have treats. You can also pretend to be eating something and drop some on the ground then pretend to be looking for it. They might come to you thinking you have some food for them.
    • Try opening your car door. Sometimes the dog will just jump right in!
    • If you know the dog likes other dogs, you could try using another dog friendly dog to try to lure them in. Use extreme caution if you do not know the dog. Some dogs are aggressive towards other dogs and you do not want your dog getting hurt.

    Important thing to keep in mind with any strays you find:

    Even if a dog is very scared or looks like they are in rough shape, please do not automatically assume they do not have a loving family desperately looking for them. The friendliest of dogs can get panicked when they are in unfamiliar surroundings, so don’t take being fearful as a sign they were abused. If they are thin or very dirty, consider the fact that they may just have been running loose for a while.