As pet sitters and animal lovers many of us interact with dogs everyday. It’s all fun and games, but when meeting a dog for the first time you need to take certain precautions so that you don’t get bit. If you are a dog person, you’ll usually be able to tell right off the bat if the dog is kind of sketchy. If you can’t tell, you need to know the right ways to keep yourself out of danger. Our dog walkers are experienced in dealing with dogs with strange temperaments, so we felt compelled to spread rhw awareness.
1. Do not approach the dog. Let the dog come to you. Even if the owner says that it’s okay, they can’t really speak for the dog. If the dog wants to approach you, they will, and you’ll know it. If the dog doesn’t want to interact with you, don’t take it to heart. Once you have been given permission, don’t make eye contact with the dog, as dogs interpret that as a threat or challenge. Don’t ever reach out to touch the dog – allow the dog an opportunity to sniff you and feel comfortable with you first. If the dog pulls away, remain calm and slowly back away. Remember, dogs feed off of your energy so try and be as calm and friendly as possible.
2. Don’t try to be overly physical, and never put your face in their face. Dogs aren’t humans. And, even if they were… Would you like to be completely and utterly overwhelmed by someone the first time meeting them? Didn’t think so.
3. Keep in mind how you pet the dog. Believe it or not, there is a right way to pet a dog. Dogs hate to be pet on the top of the head. They do, however, like being pet underneath the chin, on their chests, and on the sides of their body.
4. Don’t try to take the dogs “belongings” away. You are not entitled to take the dog’s things away from them—treat, stick, ball, toy, whatever. That’s a job for their owner. If you do, you could be setting yourself up for a disaster.
5. ALWAYS ask the owner first. This is a huge pet peeve of most dog owners. It should be a no-brainer, as it’s the easiest way to avoid getting bit. All you had to do is ask the owner whether or not the dog is friendly and if you can interact with it or not.
6. Watch the dog’s posture. A dog’s posture speaks volumes about their emotions. If a dog has a wrinkled nose, curled lips, or a stiff-legged stance with raised hair along the back– there’s not really a debate that the dog is uncomfortable. If a dog is relaxed, they’ll have their head high with their tongue out. It’s fairly easy to tell what kind of mood the dog is in based on their posture, you just need to know what to look for.
Hopefully these tips will help you the next time a strange or new dog comes across your path, wherever you may be. Until then –stay safe!
All the Best,