Approaching unfamiliar dog’s


Patting an unfamiliar dog tethered outside a shop or on a footpath can be an uncontrollable urge for many people. While you may think there is nothing wrong with approaching an unfamiliar, the way you go about it could make a world of difference to the dog you are about to greet. It is important to remember not all dog’s like to be approached or touched by strangers – some may have issues with certain types of people, they may be poorly socialised ton children, have suffered an earlier unpleasant experience,  or may be anxious that their owners are out of sight. For safety reasons, it is important to ask the owner if it is alright to say hello, then you must ask the dog. If the owner agrees, stand to the side of the dog with your hands by your side and avoid making eye contact with the dog. (If the dog is small, you may need to crouch down side on). Standing or crouching down side on and avoiding eye contact are both very non-threatening gestures and allow the dog SPACE to approach if it wants to. Many people make the mistake of standing in front of the dog whilst holding their hand out in front of the dog’s nose to allow the dog to smell them. While this may seem good in theory the dog may find your body language threatening, and may be less inclined to interact with you. Also by putting your hand in front of a dog’s face is potentially very dangerous, you are taking up their SPACE, and asking to be bitten. If the dog moves forward to investigate or sniff you, this indicates that the dog is accepting your approach. As the owner the dog’s name and speak to them in a calm and friendly tone. It is important to also find out if there is anywhere you must not touch, as the dog might have sore ears, back etc. If it is still alright you can very gently rub the side of the dog’s neck and face, gradually making your way to behind the ears and anywhere the dog likes to be patted. If the dog does not move towards you, and moves away from you, or turns their head or whole body away, they are clearly indicating that they are NOT interested in interacting with you. Instead RESPECT their SPACE and move on.

If you see a dog wearing a yellow bandanna this dog may be part of the Yellowdog Project. The Yellowdog Australian Project is aimed at dog’s that might need a little extra personal space, the dog’s wear a yellow collar, bandanna, ribbon, collar or harness. It is to communicate that this dog needs some space so don’t approach, especially not with your dog, allow them time to move away. There are numerous reasons why these dogs need SPACE. To find out more go to Yellowdog Project Australia.

The project aims to achieve a universally and easy to spot symbol that asks you to maintain your distance, so as to give the dog and handler time to move out of your way.

*This is not a for dog’s with an existing  bite history.

Anna Tasker, Paw Power Dog Training 0431 511215 /


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