There’s been some recent publicity about the danger of using dog leads ‘improperly’ – if that’s possible! From an initial reading of the headline, I was also a chuckling sceptic.
How to handle stranger’s dogs
What To Do When You Are Approached By A Stranger’s Dog
A stranger’s dog can be a cause for concern, especially if you have your own dog with you or small children. The media portrays big dogs, in particular, as the ones to fear, branding them dangerous and vicious. The main targets for these “vicious” breeds are Staffordshire Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers. When you approach a stranger’s dog, you should use caution, but that’s the case for all breeds of dogs, no matter their size. Following these tips below will ensure you know what to do when you greet stranger’s dogs, whether they’re small, medium, or large.
The worst thing you can do is panic, flail your arms around, and try to run away when you meet a stranger’s dog. This is especially true if you have kids or someone with you who is afraid of dogs. Dogs pick up very quickly on body language, so it is important to be relaxed. Stand still, don’t make any sudden movements, and keep your arms by your side. Dogs can feel intimidated by erratic movements, so by keeping still, you are showing the dog you are not a threat. You should also lower your gaze and avoid looking at the dog directly in the eye, as this is a sign of dominance in dogs.
Use A Soft Voice
Using a gentle, soft voice when you around a stranger’s dog will let their dog know you are not someone to be afraid of. Don’t scream, yell, or raise your voice as this will cause the dog to feel uneasy and vulnerable.
Let The Dog Sniff You
Before you touch a stranger’s dog, let it sniff you first. If you have followed the steps above, the dog may approach you for an investigative sniff to make sure you’re not a threat. Be calm during this process as the dog is just trying to get to know you better. Continue to stand still and stay composed. You shouldn’t try to touch the dog at this point.
Once the stranger’s dog has sniffed you and made sure you’re not a threat, it will most likely move away from you and focus on something else. If you want to stroke the dog, ask its owner first, and then hold out your hand slowly for the dog to sniff. If the dog seems fine with this, you could try stroking them. Avoid petting the dog’s head as most dogs, especially ones that know you, don’t like it. You should pay close attention to the dog’s body language during this stage.
Signs a dog is feeling threatened and may bite are:
- Licking lips and/or yawning
- Looking away
- Hunched back, flattened ears and stiff body
- Raised fur
- Snapping and growling
- Tail wagging
- Backing away
- Visible whites of the eye
If you notice the stranger’s dog display any of these signs, you should slowly retreat your hand and slowly back away. Don’t freak out as this will upset the dog and could make the situation worse.