My Dog Space
How To Approach Strange Dogs (Part 2)
Most dog bites occur on a dog’s own property and the majority of these bites occur out of fear. The fear biter is protecting nothing but himself. He seldom goes out of his way to bite, anymore than any person would go out of his way to take a poke at a tiger. The fear biter will keep his distance, yapping and barking, and he may try to maneuver behind you to bite. Your first task is to attempt to make friends.
Get Eye-To-Eye With The Dog
The best way is to stop and kneel down so that you will be on his same level. You won’t give the appearance of being a giant and you will help to lessen some of the possible causes of the dog’s fear. The fear biter will then apply3 senses that nature has provided him: His ears, his eyes, and the most important one of the three : his nose.
If you take the time to talk in a quiet, friendly, yet enthusiastic tone, he will be able to hear by your voice that you are neither aggressive nor angry. With his eyes, he can see that you are not walking toward him, and that you have knelt to his level. If you are carrying anything in your hands, like a bag, books, etc., you need to lay them on the ground for a moment. The fear biter may confuse these objects as possible weapons.
His third defense mechanism is his sense of smell. He will use this sense to pass judgment on you. The best thing you can do is to let him approach you, with his own time, and at his own speed. He will cautiously and slowly make his way to you. You can make it easier for the dog if you extend the back of your hand for him to smell.
Some people offer the palm of their hand, which is not a wise thing to do. If the dog has ever been struck, chances are it has been hit with an open hand. An open hand, therefore, signifies a weapon. Extend the back of your hand, below his eyes and never above his head.
When strange dogs meet on the street, they obligingly stand for scent identification. You should do the same when approaching strange dogs. After the fear biter has examined your scent and comes to the conclusion that he’s not in any danger from you, he will normally back off and allow you to proceed, provided that you keep a safe distance from him. His agenda is not to bite or have a confrontation with you. Keep in mind that he’s the one that’s scared here.
Do not give the impression that you are scared, even if you are. On the other hand, be careful not to show authority or dominance. Instead, let him know that you are willing to be his friend if that’s the way he wants the relationship to go. If he doesn’t accept your offer of friendship by showing your outstretched hand, at least he knows that he has nothing to fear from you.
Remember to let him come to you, not the other way around. If he doesn’t come, that’s fine too, just make sure that whatever movement you make, it is casual and slow. As you get up, continue talking in a friendly, gentle manner. Never force your attention on a dog that’s unwilling to come to you.