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Updated: Apr 25

two people with medium and small size dogs on walking trail

Who doesn't love playing with dogs? However, it's essential to remember that not all dogs are comfortable with strangers. Here are some guidelines to follow when approaching a dog to ensure your safety and the well-being of the dog. 

Always ask permission before approaching a dog. You never know what might be happening with the dog. For example, the dog may be in training, not feeling well, or uncomfortable with an encounter. Once permitted to approach, walk calmly and slowly toward the dog. Sudden movements or loud noises can easily frighten a dog. By approaching the dog in this manner, it will allow the dog time to become aware of your presence. Allow the dog to come to you. Slowly stick out your hand with a closed fist, and give the dog time to become familiar with your scent. This will allow the dog to become comfortable with you before physical contact begins. 

Be aware of personal space. Like people, dogs have personal space boundaries that should not be ignored. Allow the dog to come closer when it feels safe. Refrain from looking the dog in the eyes, as this can be seen as a threat. Instead, focus on the dog's body language to gauge how comfortable the dog is feeling. Lastly, slowly and gently pet the back or side of the dog. 

Stay away from sensitive areas like the face, ears, and tail. Stop immediately if the dog shows discomfort, such as growling, barking, or pulling away. Remember, it's crucial to approach dogs with respect and caution. You don't know if the dog's behavior has been influenced by past experiences, health, or temperament. If unsure about approaching a dog or if the owner advises against it, it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid the encounter.

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