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23 January 2010

Tips For Greeting Strange Dogs

This is one of many training tips I'd like to share with you under the name 'Paws for Thought' written by a friend at work who is passionate about dogs and is happy to share and discuss what she has learnt. Posted here with her permission. Please note: She is not a dog expert but a dog lover learning more each day.


We've all heard about asking before greeting someone else's dog but here are three great steps that you might want to teach your kids - and use yourself.  The steps are:

1. Ask the owner

2. Ask the dog

3. Pet the dog

In more detail

1. Ask the Owner

Never rush towards a dog. Stop about about a metre away and ask the owner if you can pet the dog. If the owner says no, then please accept that and just stay and talk or say thank you and walk on. If the owner says yes then move onto step 2.

2. Ask the Dog

Don't use words to ask the dog - use body language. You can make a fist with your palm pointed down and then slowly extend your arm towards the dog and let them sniff it if they want to. Curling your fingers into the fist means they can't get nipped if the dog gets a shock. When you put out your hand watch what the dog does. Another way to ask the dog is just to stand, side on to him without looking directly at him and wait to see if he comes to say hello.

* If he comes forward with a waggy tail and open mouth then he's saying yes you can say hello.

* If he leans forward for a quick sniff and seems comfortable then he's probably saying yes but be sure to be nice and gentle with him.

* If he turns his head away, backs off, hides behind his owner, looks unhappy, ducks his head or growls then this means no - even if his owner says he's okay.

If the dog says yes then move onto step 3.

3. - Petting the dog

Dog's generally don't like hugs or having you pat them on the top of their head. They also might not be comfortable with you bending over them. If you've asked the owner about where the dog likes being petted then follow their advice (unless you feel the dog isn't happy - then back off)

Approaching the dog from the side rather than the front and stroking the side of his neck, rubbing under his chin, scratching his chest and petting his back are all usually good ideas. Do it slowly and gently but no so slowly that its freaky and not so gently that it tickles.

Important note: Pet a little bit and then stop - let the dog tell you if he's happy and wants you to continue (by moving towards you, looking towards you with an open mouth and happy tail) or stop (moving away from you).

We'll talk more about dog body language, human body language and how to touch a dog for a lot more benefit than just petting (for both human and animal) in future installments of Paws for Thought. Keep tuned.


The basis for these useful tips comes from a book by Colleen Pelar called 'Living with Kids and Dogs Without Losing Your Mind.'

Active one year old Jack is looking for a wonderful new home

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