When people see a dog, it’s not uncommon for their first reaction is to reach out and pet it, and with almost 90 million dogs in the US, it’s hard not to. Although more likely than not, the dog is friendly, that still isn’t always the best idea. It’s crucial to remember that, dogs get scared too. So when a person they don’t know rushes up to them and reaches to touch them, they might take it as a threat and become aggressive to defend themselves, possibly resulting in a dog bite. So, here are some helpful tips to safely approach and interact with an unfamiliar dog. 

Ask Permission From the Owner

If you see a dog that you want to pet or get close to, the first thing you should always do is ask the owner if it’s okay. Not only is this the polite thing to do, but the owner is the best person to ask whether the dog is friendly enough to approach. After all, they know their dog best, and they have nothing to gain by letting someone near their aggressive dog with the potential of them being bitten. Plus, as noted by the American Kennel Association, the dog might have a sore spot or an area they don’t like to be touched that the owner knows about. Also, if there is no owner, such as if the dog is tied up outside of a store, it’s best that you leave it alone. You can’t know a dog from its body language alone and it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Let the Dog Come to You

If the owner says it’s okay to greet their dog, don’t sprint up into the dog’s space. Move closer and then stop, allowing the dog to come to you in its own time. Doing this helps show the dog that you aren’t a threat, and allowing them to investigate you will make them all the more comfortable. To really show the dog that you’re a friend, allow them to pick up on your scent. Although it’s rumored that the best way to do this is through the “Sniff Test” and sticking your hand out so they can smell it, this is no longer advised by professionals and many dog owners. 

Know Where To Safely Touch

If everything so far has gone well and it’s time to physically touch the dog, be sure to do it as calmly and gently as possible. Stick to the dog’s neck, back, or chest, and avoid touching their head. Even better, ask the owner where their favorite place to be pet is to score some serious brownie points with the dog. If you follow these petting methods, it’s likely nothing unexpected will happen. However, the same can’t be said if you come running up and throwing your hands around a dog, getting in its face, and being overall intrusive. 

Anticipate the Unexpected

Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, dogs and even their owners can be unpredictable, which can result in serious harm. Some situations might even lead you to require a Riverside personal injury lawyer. To avoid this, be respectful, be smart, and remember that dogs aren’t just there for your pleasure.

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