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How to Approach an Unknown Dog (Do's and Don'ts)

When you see a dog, don’t you just want to get close and pet him/her? I know the feeling, but let’s step back and see from the dog’s perspective. Just imagine, when you are walking on a street, all of the sudden, a stranger approaches you and touches you on the head or all over your body. Isn’t that a little uncomfortable or even a little frightening?

Of course, dogs are just like us, they have individual personalities. Some dogs may like that type of attention, but if the dog is shy, nervous, or timid, it is very frightening to see your hand approaching over their head. It might make the dog’s person nervous as well.

So, here are the Do’s and Don’ts

Do ask the person if you can pet the dog, AND wait for their permission.

Don’t just ask and reach your hand right away before the person responds.

Do squat down to make your body at their level for shy, nervous, or timid dogs. (not directly facing the dog but in side way is even better)

Don’t directly look at the dog’s eyes. (People look at each other’s eyes for connection, but it is actually threatening for animals)

Do let them approach you.

Don’t approach the dog.

Do offer your hand slow and low for the dog to sniff you if the dog is comfortable enough to approach you.

Don’t stick your hand in the dog’s face.

For people who have nervous dogs and prefer to avoid other people approaching your dog, there are many products (vests, leash, collar, etc.) available on the market. Here is an example from Amazon. (I don’t get any commission from this.)

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