I am sure that many of us have approached dogs that seemed nice at first and then, all of a sudden, became agitated, barked, jumped, and even gave us a nip. We had no idea why such a thing would happen. We thought the dog looked just fine and we believed that we were doing nothing less than being polite to the dog. Wham, bam; we get scared, jumped on, and possibly bitten!
On top of everything that I just mentioned, many people have told me that this has happened more than once. Even though they may not have seen a pattern of what caused the bad situation, they should have seen a pattern of coming up to a strange dog and bad things can happen.
In today’s world, we are always ready to blame someone else for something we did. We went up to a dog and it scared, jumped on, or bit us. We are going to get mad at the dog and owner who were minding their own business walking down the street. On the other hand, the dog owner can get mad at us for causing their dog to react to our encroachment. Whatever the case, the end result was not what “dog owner”, “dog”, or “person wanting to see and pet dog” expected then they left for a walk.
As with many dog/human problems, the issues lies in communication, observation, and interpretation. Since many of us have lived with dogs all our lives, we often mistakenly think that dogs should think, and act like us. Why not? They live in our homes, play with our family, eat with us, go on vacations with us, etc.
Although dogs and humans are gathering, social creatures and have similar “rules of engagement”, our delivery of those rules can be very different. We verbalize and adhere to rational thought processes. Dogs rely on body language and consistent, repetitive actions.
Robin and I have a great article that focuses on an appropriate greeting from your dog’s point of view. Please take a moment and read our dog training blog titled “How Should I Safely Approach and Greet a Dog on the Street”.