When you see a dog in public, the first instinct of many is to want to pet the animal. Here are eight steps to follow to ensure you do it safely:
- Don’t approach the dog. Even the friendliest of pets prefers not to be “targeted” by strangers. Ignore the dog at first.
- Get permission from the pet’s owner before approaching the dog. If you see a stray or loose dog, its best to steer clear.
- After you get permission from the owner, don’t get excited or make any sudden movements. Stay relaxed with open, inviting body language. This will help keep the dog calm and not see you as a threat.
- Avoid direct eye contact. For dogs, this signals aggression and may be met in kind. For added safety, turn your whole body away from the dog, so that you are both facing the same direction.
- Either stay sanding upright or squat, don’t crouch. Crouching over the dog may also be taken as a sign of aggression.
- Let the dog come to you. Allowing it to approach you to satisfy its curiosity will be better for the both of you in the long run. If the dog doesn’t seem interested, don’t take it personally. Just thank the owner and continue about your day.
- Let the dog sniff your hand. This will give it a chance to get used to you. After a moment, if it’s still there, it should be alright to pet the dog. The neck, chest or shoulders are the best places to begin. Other areas, like the top of the head, may be considered a threatening gesture.
- If, at any point, the dog backs away from you, don’t follow it. Cease what you are doing and go on your way.
Animals can be unpredictable. If something happens, contacting a personal injury attorney can help you handle the situation.
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