The ways in which humans interact doesn’t necessarily work for dogs.
When we are affectionate towards another human, we hug and can even gaze into each other’s eyes, though both these actions can be interpreted as aggressive by a dog.
Even patting a dog on the head can be taken the wrong way.
Your own pet may be used to your strange human ways but this guide particularly useful when approaching dogs you are not familiar with…
Every dog is of course unique, but here are 5 tips on how to interact with lesser-known dogs effectively:
1. Don’t pat his head
This is a threatening gesture to many dogs. Although the majority of family pets have gotten used to it and tolerate it, they really do not find a heavy-handed pat enjoyable. A scratch behind the ears or stroking the chest is much more satisfying.
2. Don’t stare into his eyes
Consider how you feel when someone stares at you directly, rather than using normal eye contact standards. Just as you find it confronting, is often considered a challenge or a threat stance among canines so to defuse tension, look away. A dog that looks away in this situation is actually being polite (or submissive) and is seeking to avoid confrontation, not disobedient.
3. Do not hug the dog
Dogs are programmed to believe one of two things when they are held in close proximity– that they are trapped as prey or that they are being mounted. It takes patience and a gradual approach to get your dog used to your loving embrace.
4. Approach a dog from the side, rather than head on
Walking straight up to a dog is not advisable. When dogs greet each other they move in an arc. Whilst most socilaised canines are used to the direct human approach, you can make a very submissive dog more comfortable by angling towards her.
5. Get on his level
If you are innocently bending down to give a dog a pat, this can be interpreted as a show of higher status to the dog. Tower over an aggressive dog and you may receive a warning to back off. Stand over a submissive dog and she may cower or roll over. If you want to say hello to a timid pooch then turn sideways, squat and let her approach you.