Reading a Dog’s Body Language

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by Jeff Mancao

One of the common mistakes committed by a dog fan or house guest is touching or grabbing the dog right away. The is understandable because who will not be taken by the cuteness of a dog?

Unfortunately though, this spontaneous reaction could very well result in the dog snapping at, or worse, biting the person.

Dogs are like humans, proper timing is crucial especially for first time encounters or meet ups.

First, let the dogs smell you as part of their ritual and avoid eye contact. Don’t be afraid. Dogs can sense if you are afraid or nervous.

Afterwards, check the body language of the dog – is his tail wagging, his ears erect and the head steady, exhibiting no movement? These are physical signs that the dog is calm and may be excited to see you (see that wagging tail?), even for the first time.

Good rapport will come along as the dog slowly comes to trust you. This applies to any dog breed or size –- from Small to XXL.

Small dogs are really cute but some are the most underrated snappers! Just imagine, I saw a clip on YouTube of a young girl who got bitten by a miniature Chihuahua. She had to get 4 stitches. The story was she approached the dog without permission from the pet owner and as a result, got bitten. So who was to blame for this incident?

Here are some tips to avoid such unfortunate incident:

1. Start by being polite and respecting the dog’s personal space; let them see and sniff you first. Never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one who is tied.

2. Do not disturb a dog when they are sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies.

3. In case the dog approaches you, remain motionless. Put your hands at your sides and avoid eye contact with the dog. Try to relax. If the dog approaches you in a lively (not aggressive) manner, chances are he is a friendly dog.

Always remember folks, be patient and exercise proper timing. Always check first the body language before touching or cuddling a dog!

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