Say Hi to a Dog But Dont Rush InDec 13, 2023
Don't Rush In
While many dogs are friendly and well-socialised, it's important to be careful when interacting with a dog you don’t know, but also important to supervise and advise best practice when someone is approaching your dog to ensure it’s a good experience for everyone.
Here are several reasons why:
Territorial or Protective Behaviour
Dogs can be territorial and protective, if they feel threatened or see a stranger as a potential threat, they may display a defensive reaction.
Fear or Anxiety
Some dogs may be fearful or anxious around strangers so getting too close or putting your face near theirs can escalate their anxiety and again provoke a defensive response, such as snapping or growling.
Even well behaved dogs can react unpredictably in unfamiliar situations. They might not be accustomed to close face-to-face interactions from strangers (or even people they met a few times) , and sudden movements or body/hand gestures could give them a fright.
Dogs communicate through body language, and putting your face close to theirs may be misinterpreted. Dogs may see this as a threat or a challenge, leading to defensive or aggressive behaviour.
Excitement and Hyperactivity
Dogs, especially those with high energy levels or have an excitable temperament, might become overly enthusiastic in social situations. This excitement can manifest in jumping, licking, or other exuberant behaviours that could inadvertently cause discomfort or even pose a safety risk, especially if the dog is large or strong. Some even do an ‘air snap’ with their mouths out of excitement which can cause a fright to the human.
Health and Safety
You never know the health status of a dog you don’t know. If a dog is sick, injured, or in pain, it may react defensively to any sudden movements, including putting your face down towards it.
To interact safely with dogs you don't know you should
Allow the dog to see and sniff you from a safe distance.
Ask the owner for permission
If the dog is with its owner, ask for permission before attempting to interact with the dog.
Observe the dog's body language
Look for signs of relaxation or tension in the dog's body language. If the dog seems uncomfortable, it's best to keep a safe distance.
If a dog becomes overly excited, it’s important to remain calm and avoid escalating the situation with your own exuberance.
Let the Dog Calm Down
Allow the dog some time to settle down before attempting any close interactions. Reinforce calm behaviour with positive reinforcement.
Follow the Owner's Guidance
If the dog is with its owner, follow their lead in managing the dog's excitement. Some owners may prefer to have their dog calm before any interactions.
Always be respectful of a dog's space, if you're unsure about a dog's temperament then it's wise to err on the side of caution.
Understanding and respecting a dog's individual personality and energy level is crucial for positive interactions.
Remember every dog is different and always pay attention to the dog's cues and be aware of their comfort level in various social situations.
If in any doubt, consult the dog's owner for guidance.