You know the feeling you get when you see a dog across the street? That overwhelming urge to run over and snuggle it forever?! As tempting as it may be to love up that pup, you should follow a few simple rules to ensure your interaction goes smoothly.
- First off, always ask the dog’s owner for permission to greet their dog before approaching him, allow the dog to come to you. Most dogs are inherently curious and will let you know if they are interested in you. If the dog does not approach you, take that as a sign he is not in the mood to interact. Many humans assume most dogs want to play with them, but just like us, they may be having a bad day.
- Do not look a dog directly in the eye; direct eye contact can be threatening. Instead, turn your body, so you are not facing the dog. Stay relaxed, keep your body loose, and keep your voice soft and calm.
- Let the dog sniff your hand first and then gently touch the dog on the head, ears, or chin; this allows the dog to keep an eye on your hand positions. More importantly, you never know if the dog has a sensitive or injured area that you may aggravate.
- Stand straight or squat beside the dog. Do not crouch over or attempt to hug the dog, these forms of contact create a face to face interaction that can lead to a nip or bite if provoked. If at any time during the interaction the dog tries to move away, give him space. He is letting you know that he no longer wants to participate in your interaction.
Keeping these simple steps in mind can allow you and your new canine friend to hit it off right away. You have to remember that dogs are smart, caring creatures that react to interaction in much the same way we do. If a loud stranger were coming straight towards you with unrelenting eye contact, you too would be wary. Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason; let’s show them how much we care through love and respect.
Written by Mill Creek Animal Hospital