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Before Petting That Dog…

Posted on April 21, 2014
By Nikki Martinez

They come in different sizes, different colors, and varying species. Some call them a Companion, a Best Friend, a Family Member, but to most around the world, they are known as DOG. If you haven’t heard me talk about dogs, I can tell you this: I Love Them!! Actually, right now in my life, I don’t at all have baby-brain…I have Doggy-brain. If you saw me this past weekend with my brother’s dog Sue Ellen, you would have thought I was a 5 year old kid in the toy section at the store. And maybe you’re like me right now, or have always seen yourself as a “Dog Person.” So the thought of petting a random dog doesn’t sound too crazy, right?

In fact, even though most dogs are naturally mild tempered, you can’t be too certain that EVERY dog is. That’s why I’m glad the website PawNation put out their article looking solely at the interactions between humans and dogs. It’s some good stuff to keep in the ole-noggin before rushing to put your arms around the next canine walking by:


1. Myth: When greeting a new dog, you should extend your hand for it to sniff.

Fact: Dogs don’t sniff each other’s paws when greeting and like us prefer to be asked before being touched by a stranger.  Instead, ask the owner and then also ASK the dog by tapping your hand on your thigh simulating a wagging tail and act friendly.  The dog will relax and nuzzle you, need to sniff more to get to know you or will stay away.


2. Myth: Breed dictates temperament.

Fact: Dogs, first and foremost, are predatory canines that live in groups. Breeds are generalizations that enable breeders to better market the product they sell.   What dictates temperament is their pack position, the role you, the human, play in the group and the rank of group members.  Dogs have superior/inferior interrelationships and command and defer accordingly.


3. Myth: When a dog charges, there is nothing you can do.

Fact: When a dog charges you, it’s trying to decide if you are friend, foe or prey.   Their eyesight is poor so hats, sunglasses and other objects you may push or carry can scare them.  Act like a friend and pretend you are not afraid. Stand facing the dog with relaxed body language, tap your thigh with your hand and use a high-pitched voice for a friendly greeting like “good girl.” Fake it if you are afraid.


4. Myth: Posting a “Beware of Dog” sign will protect you from liability if your dog injures someone on your property.

Fact: Dogs can only read body language.  These signs make people react to your dog in a fearful manner, which is more likely to cause a dog to consider visitors prey and bite them.  Use No Trespassing and Dog At Play signs instead.


5. Myth: Only bad dogs owned by bad people bite.

Fact:  Even responsible dog owners operate under the same false beliefs about human and canine behavior.  They are also encouraged to take a passive role concerning their dog.  Any dog can bite especially when it feels personally threatened, is exposed to prey behavior or thinks that someone lower in rank threatens its resources, such as food, toys, bedding and the attention of its owner.



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