3 tips for approaching a dog without irritating their owner

3 tips for approaching a dog without irritating their owner

You can’t resist the urge to pet every dog you meet? Here are some suggestions for ways to calmly approach dogs and their owners.

January 30, 2020

It’s Sunday morning and you’re out doing some window shopping. But it turns out the adorable Beagle bounding towards you is way more interesting than the sweater on sale in the shop window. If you’re a dog lover, it’s tempting to stop everything and shower the animal with love. Does this sound like a familiar scenario? Be aware however that your hugs—even though they might be welcome to the dog—may be a source of irritation for the owner. Follow these tips for positive interactions with dogs and their owners.

Gauge the owner’s attitude
Time is limited. While juggling tasks—making dinner, washing up dishes, doing laundry—a dog owner may have to shorten their walk with their pooch. If this is the case, your interjection may monopolize their precious time and be frustrating. Before approaching them, take a couple of seconds to observe the person’s attitude. Do they seem rushed? Or even exhausted? Is their facial expression stern? If the situation doesn’t seem welcoming, it’s probably a good idea to keep walking and save your loving attention to the next canine you encounter.

Keep it short and sweet
If, on the other hand, you sense an openness, there’s nothing stopping you from approaching the dog’s owner. You’re interested in the dog’s complete life story right down to their favourite treat? It might be a good idea to reign in your enthusiasm. Despite good intentions your interlocutor may be exasperated by a barrage of questions. Be polite and keep it brief. Remember: you’re probably not the only person punctuating their walk with questions.

Always ask for permission
A cute dog can be truly irresistible. But it’s important to always ask for permission before petting a dog. Some dogs have socialization and adaptation issues. Others may be distracted by being petted—when they’re being trained, for instance. Whatever the reason, allowing their dog to be petted is not always a priority for the owner (or, indeed, the dog itself). Note, of course, that you should never pet a guide dog, who must be focused on their owner at all times.

No treats without permission
As a dog owner, you probably have a few treats in your pocket, ready to reward your dog. They may well be organic and gluten-free, but it’s never acceptable to offer them to a dog without the owner’s express permission. Some dogs have allergies or may be following strict diets and it may be against the owner’s wishes.

With this said, most people are thrilled to be complimented on their companion animal and to talk about them. By being careful and considerate, your interactions are bound to strike a happy note!

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