Friday, September 7, 2012

How Not To Greet A Dog - Dog training in Milton, ON

I have found, for the most part, a good number of children will ask before petting a dog. I credit the parents for this and give them a gold star. Not all dogs are friendly, and not all dogs want to be mauled and handled by strangers and every parent should warn their child of this. Even the most friendly of dogs will not feel comfortable when over whelmed by a "friendly" child, so it is best to ask for permission before introduction.

Once past the permission step is where I see a lot people fail in their attempt at making friends with a dog, and I'm not just talking about children. For what ever reason, adults and children alike, feel the need to get "into the face" of a dog, especially smaller dogs because of the cute factor. This is absolutely the most dangerous position you can put yourself in when greeting a strange dog. The face houses the mouth, and a dogs mouth holds, well, a mouth full of teeth, if the dog is uncomfortable, those teeth can be used to let someone know how the dog is feeling.

Face to face greetings are rude, not only in the dog world, but in the human world as well. Think about how uncomfortable you feel when someone invades your personal space. Then imagine someone you don't know, running up to you, sticking their nose right against yours without your permission, out in public, telling you how adorable you are and not to worry, they are good with people. My guess is that your first reaction would be a bit of a startle reflex and then possibly some hostility. Remember, this is a stranger whom you've never met that's invading your personal space. At the least, you'll feel uncomfortable, at the most, you'll lash out. And this is exactly how dogs feel when their space is invaded, but their lash out won't be a fist, rather a bite.

Hugs and kisses are also dangeous things when it comes to strange dogs, as is overwhleming rough housing, over stimulating petting, chasing and picking up. All of these things can cause the dog to become anxious, which can trigger a bite.

The best way to approach a dog is to first ask the owner for permission, I don't care if you are an adult or a child, ask if the dog is friendly, and then relax, don't invade space, let them come to you if they want to greet. A sniff of the hand, a small strach on the chest, and if they are little, get down on their level so as not to be intimidating or overwhelming. Don't force it, and never chase a dog who doesn't want to be petted. Keep an eye out for a dog stiffening up, or otherwise showing body language that means they are anxious. Keep the greeting short, calm and non-threatening, then move along.

So think before you pet, and don't invade personal space if the dog is uncomfortable, even if the owner says they are friendly. And NEVER EVER put your face into the face of a strange dog.