When we're out and about, we just can't help going up to every dog we see to say "hello!" It's a natural instinct, right?
As much as we love to cuddle them, however, one dog trainer is warning that we should be cautious about the way that we approach dogs, as some longstanding forms of affection could actually intimidate our furry friends.
Sarah Bartlett, a qualified international dog training instructor, has suggested that patting a dog on the head could actually be perceived as threatening, causing anxiety and possible retaliation.
Whilst we see patting a dog as a form of affection and have only good intentions, we can totally see where she's coming from. Well, how would you like it if someone loomed over you and started to pat your head?
Speaking to the Mirror, the trainer said:
"The wrong way to approach a dog is to walk up to them head on and just lean straight over them and go down and [stroke them]."
Instead, she explained that the correct way to approach a dog is from the side, as going over their head is "quite a threatening gesture," as is "going straight forward into them."
So, to set a dog at ease it's best to approach them from the side, make them aware of your presence, then lower yourself to their level. It's all about giving them space and letting them choose whether they want to interact with you or not.
To test this, try offering them a hand - if they sniff, they're up for a cuddle. Otherwise, don't force them into anything.
Rather than going straight in to stroke their head, go for their chest, shoulders or the base of their neck as a safe starting point. Remember, you're a stranger, and they'll be cautious until they trust you.
We don't believe that any dog is naturally 'bad', but that there's always a reason for untoward behaviour. In this instance, any snapping is likely a defence mechanism, so being careful about how you approach them is an easy way to avoid any unnecessary aggravation.
It makes sense, really...
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