What You Should Do — and Not Do — When Meeting a New Dog

Photo by Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock.com

You’re seated on a restaurant patio enjoying the spring weather and can’t help but reach out to pet a nearby dog.

STOP!

Not only do pets become fearful of strangers — no matter how nice you really are — they will sometimes bite when they feel threatened. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there are 4.5 million dog bites in the United States annually. Most victims are children, followed by men.

“You never know a dog’s history or behavioral issues they may have, so always make sure to ask a dog’s owner before you go to pet a dog,” said Ashley Jacobs, CEO and founder of Sitting for a Cause. “This way you can ensure your safety and the dog’s comfort.”

And you can make sure you and your loved ones don’t turn a seemingly innocent encounter into a nasty one for you and the pet.

Consider these seven points from pet experts to ensure your pet encounters stay friendly for everyone.

1. Remain still as the dog sniffs your closed hand

Christian Mueller / Shutterstock.com

Keep your hand in a fist – it’s less threatening – and slowly offer it to the dog to sniff it as long as it wants, recommends Valerie Trumps, writing for the pet parenting site Pet 360. When the dog relaxes or wags its tail, you can move ahead to pet it (again, with the owner’s permission).

2. Stand up straight or squat

StockLite / Shutterstock.com

A dog has its own way of interpreting your posture when you meet. Standing straight or squatting is fine, but whatever you do, don’t crouch over the dog, recommends Trumps. That posture can be interpreted as threatening.

3. Don’t stare into a dog’s eyes

OHoHO / Shutterstock.com

If you squat down to its eye level, don’t hold the dog’s gaze. You may think doing so shows love or friendliness, but Jacobs says many dogs see it as a sign of aggression. It makes them uncomfortable and even fearful.

4. Pet the body of a dog, not its head or face

Vitalinka / Shutterstock.com

“Many dogs, especially dogs that aren’t familiar with you, aren’t comfortable having their head or face touched,” says Jacobs. “Touching their heads or faces is an invasion of their space and can leave them feeling threatened. Instead, opt to pet their backs, chest or shoulders.”

5. Avoid hugging

Stasiao4 / Shutterstock.com

Even if the dog belongs to a friend or relative, don’t assume it’s completely comfortable with you. Dogs don’t like anyone hugging them, says Jacobs. “Most dogs are not fans of being hugged because it makes them feel trapped or dominated, increasing their stress levels,” she says.

6. Do let the dog control the interaction

Andrei Zveaghintev / Shutterstock.com

If the dog wags its tail and relaxes, it enjoys the encounter. If the dog backs away, stop what you’re doing and allow the dog solitude, recommends the pet travel site GoPetFriendly.

7. Do play nice

Maria Evseyeva / Shutterstock.com

You may think it’s a gentle sign of love to gently pull a dog’s tail or pull a toy away, but it is frustrating to a dog. Play nice and be respectful, says Jacobs.

If you’re running, walking or just sitting, and a dog threatens to attack, heed these next four tips from dog behavior expert Cesar Millan’s website, Cesar’s Way:

8. Remain calm

Milosz Aniol / Shutterstock.com

Don’t yell, kick or strike out at a dog that attacks you. Remaining calm shows the dog you are in charge. It also surprises it. Dogs sense fear so try not to exhibit that reaction.

9. Control your space

Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com

If you are carrying a handbag, sweater or umbrella, place it in front of you. That will show the dog you are trying to maintain your space, not intrude into its area. Holding an umbrella or other object out also makes you appear larger.

10. Allow the dog to attack clothing

elbud / Shutterstock.com

If you sense an attack is imminent, pull your arm out of the sleeve of a sweater or jacket, and let the dog attack the garment. The dog will think it’s attacking you, and that distraction will likely give you a chance to reach safety.

11. Protect your neck, face and chest

Verkhovynets Taras / Shutterstock.com

If a dog attacks, the least harmful place it can bite you is on your forearm or shin. A bite on the neck, face, chest or thigh can be serious and even fatal. Also, try to keep your hands clenched in fists to protect your fingers.

Dogs are not naturally inclined to attack humans unless they are threatened or allowed to do so by irresponsible owners, according to Cesar’s Way. Still, it’s best to understand how to escape such attacks or avoid serious injury.

What’s your approach with unfamiliar dogs? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things
It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things

Sometimes, the difference in quality makes it worthwhile to open your wallet a little wider.

10 Bad Money Habits That Are Robbing You Blind
10 Bad Money Habits That Are Robbing You Blind

Here’s how to change those bad behaviors.

7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings
7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings

You can make your retirement money last a lot longer by avoiding these costly mistakes

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

Why Your Next Stimulus Check Might Be Bigger Than You Expect
Why Your Next Stimulus Check Might Be Bigger Than You Expect

Your third coronavirus payment will be the biggest yet — and possibly even bigger than you realize.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles
The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles

One automaker takes half the spots on a list of the longest-lasting vehicles.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.