How to Approach a Dog Safely | The Pet Encyclopedia

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Dogs are generally cute and fluffy, and people are drawn to them by nature. Many people don't understand that there is a proper way to greet a dog, especially if you have never met the dog before. Just like a person wouldn't want another person to run up in their face and start touching them, dogs don't enjoy this either. The following tips will help you approach a dog in the right way.

Ask First

Don't just reach out and pet someone's dog without asking first. Ask the owner if the dog is friendly and if they like to be petted. Don't be offended if the owner declines. Some dogs may have fear issues from past abuse at the hands of a previous owner. Some dogs may have health issues that aren't visible on the surface. Other dogs, like some people, just aren't outgoing and social.

Approach Gently

When you approach a dog and lean over them, this can be intimidating as you are showing dominance and instilling fear in the dog. Bring yourself to the dog's level by kneeling down. Hold out your hand and let the dog sniff you before you touch him. Then gently pet the dog's cheek or chin; rubbing the top of their head shows dominance and can intimidate the dog. Always speak softly and praise the dog for letting you pet him.

Read Doggie Body Language

Keep an eye on the dog's body language. Since dogs can't say "Hey, don't touch me," in our language, we have to interpret their language. A dog with a loose body and wagging tail is happy and open to human interaction. A dog with a stiff body and tail that is tucked under just wants to be left alone. Don't force yourself on a dog that wants their space.

Be Respectful

If an owner declines your request to pet their dog, don't take it personally and don't try to force the issue. If the dog pulls away from you or shows other signs that they don't want to interact, again, don't take it personally. Let the dog have his space. Most dogs will come around and want to be petted if you ignore them. Give the dog a chance to smell you and get to know you. This will instill confidence and let them know that you are a friend.

Most dog bites are caused by well-meaning people who invaded the dog's space because they just didn't know better. Be cognizant of the above tips and you'll be able to make friends with almost any dog. You will also gain the respect of their owner.

A Few Dog Breeds

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German Shepherd

Type: Dog
Size: Large
Activity Level: High
Coat: Short, smooth, very dense
Temperment: Friendly, outgoing, can be fiercely protective

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Golden Retriever

Type: Dog
Size: Medium to
Activity Level: High
Coat: Long, smooth
Temperment: Friendly, social

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Chihuahua

Type: Dog
Size: Small
Activity Level: Low
Coat: Short, smooth or Long, Wavy
Temperment: Relaxed, Stubborn