Pawfect Introduction – How to Safely Approach a Dog

Batman Shake

Photo courtesy of Christy Gorge

According to a Consumer Affairs report, dog bites have increased by 18 percent last year with most of the incidences involving children.The report states according to “the Insurance Information Institute, dog bite claims accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners’ liability claims in 2016, totaling more than $600 million.” Since last week was National Dog Bite Prevention week, we want to make sure everyone knows how to safely approach a dog they do not know.

The American Kennel Club has come up with five important steps to remember for when meeting a dog for the first time:

  • Always walk slowly to the dog’s owner to ask if you can pet the dog.
  • It’s important to receive permission before petting the dog. If the owner says “no,” politely accept the answer, and don’t pet the dog.
  • If the owner says “yes,” curl your hand into a closed fist with the back of your hand facing upward. Extend your hand slowly to the dog.
  • Allow the dog to sniff the back of your hand. We recognize people on sight; dogs recognize people by scent. Dogs sniff people to learn their scent.
  • After the dog has sniffed your hand and has become familiar with you, pet it gently under the chin or on the chest.

It’s also important to understand a dog’s body language before even asking to meet a pup. The ASPCA said, “An aggressive dog may try to make herself look bigger. Her ears may be up and forward, the fur on her back and tail may stand on end or puff out, and her tail may be straight up—it may even wag…an anxious or scared dog may try to make herself look smaller. She may shrink to the ground in a crouch, lower her head, repeatedly lick her lips, put her tail between her legs, flatten her ears back and yawn.” In either of these scenarios, if a dog does not feel comfortable or safe, and a person continues to approach, then the dog may growl, bark or bite.

With so many dogs living in the Lakeview area and the warmer weather around the corner, it is important to understand how to safely greet a new dog. If you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s behavior, or how to prevent dog bites, please call us at: (773) 327-4446.

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.