This sounds like common sense, but believe it or not most people pet dogs wrong. Dog bites are on the rise and most victims are children bitten by dogs they know. While there are many reasons for the increase in bites, we can keep ourselves protected.
As primates, our natural instinct is to reach down over a dog’s head to pet them. Unfortunately, this is seen as threatening from the dog’s point of view. Dogs who are timid or not very well socialized may feel the need to bite to protect themselves. First ask permission; you don’t know the dog and the owner can warn you if he is unfriendly or timid. That said, not all owners can read their own dog’s body language. The more well versed you are in canine communication, the safer you will be. If a dog doesn’t look friendly, leave him alone. The best way to pet a dog is let them come to you, sniff your hand and then pet them under their chin or on their chest. If the dog is not interested in coming to you, then you didn’t need to pet him in the first place. Remember that not all dogs like a friendly slap on the back, use a soft touch and stroke him gently on his back and sides. If, at any point, you feel the dog stiffen, hear him growl, or show any other signs of discomfort, stop petting him.
An animal (all animals) need to feel that there is room to escape in order to feel safe. Never back an animal into a corner and make sure that they are aware of escape routes. Never approach a chained dog or one who is in a car.
If you have children, ensure that they never kick, bite or slap a dog, or yank their tails, pull their ears or poke their eyes. Never wake a sleeping dog or bother a dog who’s eating or playing with toys.