Avoiding dog bites: Greeting new animals for the first time

As someone who is a pet lover, you’re used to approaching dogs and giving them all the attention they usually want. However, there are many things you need to keep in mind before you reach out to an animal, whether it’s a pet or a stray.

While it’s an owner’s responsibility to make sure a pet doesn’t attack or bite someone, there are things you can do to avoid an injury, too. Here are a few tips.

1. Don’t chase or reach for the animal

If you notice a stray dog or a pet nearby that you want to greet or get into your vehicle, start slowly. Allow the animal to greet you instead of the other way around. Watch the animal’s behaviors. If it’s wagging its tail and is approaching with a calm demeanor, it’s likely friendly. If it begins to show signs of its hair standing up or tucks its tail, it’s frightened and you should be wary.

2. Avoid eye contact

Most animals see eye contact as a direct challenge. If you look an animal in the eyes, you’re also missing other signals it may be giving off about its intentions. When you’re looking in its eyes, you’re missing what its body is doing and may not see the signs that it’s becoming agitated.

3. Ask permission

Finally, if there is a dog in a yard or on a leash with its owner, ask permission before you try to pet it. Some animals are not friendly to people, even if they like other dogs.

These are a few things that can help you avoid bites. By avoiding contact with animals you don’t know and being certain of the animal’s mood, you can be more confident that a pet or stray will approach you in a friendly or relaxed manner.