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Pet Article

How to Safely Approach A Dog

Safety guidelines to ensure Scooby doesn't become a Scrappy-Doo...

Most dogs are friendly, socialised and well trained. This is not the case with all dogs however, which is why it is important to keep these tips in mind when approaching someone else’s dog.


  • Approach the owner before approaching the dog – if the dog observes the owner trusting you, it will likely follow
  • Ask the dog’s owner for permission before coming into contact with the dog
  • Let the dog approach you first – dogs feel more comfortable when they feel as though they are in control of the situation
  • Stay calm
  • Let the dog smell you before patting it - this allows for the dog to establish a relationship of trust
  • Pat the dog in less threatening areas such as chest or neck – avoid patting the head or back as they might take it as a cue to reign dominance
  • Stop when the dog gives cues of not wanting to be touched anymore


  • Approach the dog if the owner is not present
  • Assume the dog has been socialised and is not aggressive
  • Advance the dog face to face – dogs may take this as a challenge
  • Scream and jump around even if excited - it might promote fear and aggression from the dog
  • Be afraid – dogs have the ability to sense fear, which may trigger aggression
  • Crouch over the dog – the dog will feel intimidated and may become aggressive
  • Approach a dog head on as this may be intimidating – try approaching the dog from the side
  • Hug an unfamiliar dog – although humans might enjoy this, dogs may see it as a dominance challenge

By keeping these tips in mind, you are respecting not only the dog and its owner, but also putting your safety first. For more tips check out the video above.