Do you find yourself running scared every time you see a dog you don’t know? This is probably because you don’t know how to approach strange dogs. When you know how to properly greet a new dog, you will likely find that you are no longer afraid and can safely encounter almost any animal without fear. You should know that it’s advisable that you not go up to a dog, especially if it’s in a yard or vehicle and looks safe, but should you have to come into contact with one, you should be able to do so safely.
The first thing that you should know if you have to approach strange dogs, is that if you go onto a dog’s property, it will usually try to protect itself and it’s home. In this case, you need to remember that you are coming into the dog’s territory and you need to treat it as such. These are the times that many people get bitten, though, so you need to know how to approach this strange dog that makes you non-threatening and a non-target.
One of the first things that you should do is get on the dog’s level. If you are not being encountered by a dog and you are forced to enter the dog’s territory, then you need to get on the dog’s level so you don’t seem to have the advantage of size. This is one of the best ways to ease a dog’s fear of you and show him that you are on the same “playing field”, so to speak. When a dog bites out of fear, it’s partly because they think you have the advantage.
The second thing that you should do when you have to approach strange dogs is to talk to it. Don’t let fear creep into your voice, but rather, be quiet and friendly, yet enthusiastic. Dogs depend on what they hear, so if you have anxiety in your voice, they will hear it and wonder why. When you have no signs of aggression or anger in your voice, it is likely that the dog will respond in kind. When you’re carrying something, then you should put it on the ground in front of you or on the side so the dog has a chance to “check it out” and make sure it’s not a danger to him.
Once you’ve done this, you can let him smell you. It’s important to be careful here, because if you’re encountering a strange dog that has been hit, the reaction to your hand will be to bite you. Instead, give him a chance to smell you on his terms. Offer your hand, but not the palm. Instead, extend the back of your hand, which seems less like a weapon and more like an offering.
When you approach strange dogs, it is so important to take a little extra time to “make friends” with him, rather than rush your way right in. Often, if you stay calm and keep your cool, you will find that you have no problems with any dogs, but you shouldn’t make any sudden movements or you could wind up frightened or worse, bitten.