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  Home >> Animal Issues - Stray Dogs >> What to do if you are faced with an Unfriendly Dog


What to do if you are faced with an Unfriendly Dog

There is no simple answer, nor set formula to solve the problem of unfriendly dogs.  However, most dogs tend to conform to predictable rules of behaviour.

This information is designed to help people to understand a dog's behaviour towards strangers when the dog feels the need to protect its owner or territory or when it feels threatened.

When you are faced with a difficult situation, this knowledge could help you to avoid trouble.

Even friendly dogs will bark at you, as it is their job to defend their territory.  Others will see you as a threat to themselves or their handler when out walking.

Talk to the dog in a firm but friendly voice and if it approaches in a friendly way - no snarl or hackles up - stand still to allow the dog to sniff you, keeping your hands clear until you feel confident.

Many dogs will respond to you greeting by wagging their tails.  Others will ignore you - but remember - do not be too forward or over-friendly.

As you approach the dog, look at how it reacts to you.  If it stays put or backs off, it probably regards you as a dominant intruder and will be too scared to attack.  If it walks or runs towards you with its tail wagging in a low position it is probably friendly and unlikely to bite you.  If it stiffens up, holds its tail high, snarls and stares at you then be on your guard.  If it bares its teeth - it may be safer to go no further.

Never run past a strange dog, or walk quickly away from it.  This may make it chase you and you could get bitten as a result.

Always walk or back away slowly, facing the dog as you do so - until you are sure you are safe.

Do not show fear.  A dog can detect fear.  Keep calm walk away slowly and speak firmly to the dog.

Do not stare at the dog.  Staring is a threat - a dog may read it as a challenge - and attack.

Do not allow children to approach dogs they do not know, even if the owner says its safe.  You can never be sure.

Even with your own pet, ensure that children do not poke the dog's eyes or pull its hair etc.  A dog only has one way to say "I've had enough", and that is to snarl or bite.

A growl is as good as "Leave me alone".

Hot weather is a bad time for dogs.  We all tend to get a bit testy when its hot - A dog can not take its coat off!

Dogs can tell if you like them, - and most can be bribed!  A biscuit in your pocket will convince most dogs that you are a friend.

Finally - Do not feel bad if you like dogs but they respond to you by barking.  They are only doing their job.

Please remember that dogs rarely attack, so don't be over anxious of every dog that you meet.  Most are scared about getting into a fight but like to act tough on their own territory.  Behave in a friendly and confident manner and you will help lessen their fear.

Dec 8, 2005

It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Charles Dudley Warner