Most kids today know the rules when meeting a dog for the first time. Many adults however, need some training. Every day I’m amazed at the adults who don’t think twice about reaching out and touching a dog that I am walking with. If I was a dog I’m sure that I would have bitten some of them! With the shocking updated dog bite statistics we can all be reminded of how to properly meet a dog.
When meeting a dog for the first time remember to ask three times:
1. Adults, teach your children to always ask you, the parent or adult first. Your child should learn that if they are alone or just with their friends not to try to pet any dog.
2. Ask the owner -Remember to remain calm and never rush up to a dog as it may scare them. Instead walk calmly and stay back about 5 feet as you ask the owner if you can pet their dog. You want to act like you want the dog to act; nice and calm. Many dogs are nervous around new people, especially men and kids. If the owner says no, it’s OK. Respect their decision, say thank you and calmly walk away. There will be other dogs to pat.
3. Ask the dog – Don’t skip this step! How would you feel if a complete stranger just walked up and started touching you? I’m sure it would make you just as uncomfortable as it does some dogs. Forget the old advice of extending your fist toward the dog for him to smell. He smelled you from across the street! Instead, keep your arms by your side and let the dog come to you. Reaching toward the dog, even with a closed fist, may make some dogs uncomfortable.
Now it’s important to read the dog’s body language.
- Does he come forward with loose, wiggly motions? That’s definitely a yes.
- Does he lean forward for a quick sniff and seem comfortable? Also a yes.
- Does he turn his face away from you? Back away? Bark or Growl? Move behind the owner or appear anxious and uncomfortable? These are all nos.
Never pet a dog that does not approach you willingly. Even if the owner says it’s OK don’t push the dog. Respect his decision of “not today”.
If kids AND adults followed these simple steps when meeting a dog for the first time many dogs wouldn’t feel it necessary to bite.
Do you have any other tips about how to meet a dog for the first time? Please comment and share below.
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