How to safely approach an unfamiliar dog
May 9, 2019
“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
- 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:
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.
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