Knowing how to behave safely around your dog – or any other dog you meet – is very important.
It can be hard to work out what dogs feel or think sometimes, as they can’t tell us themselves! But their body language can help us understand dogs better.
- Have a relaxed body posture and soft features.
- A dog that wants to play may jump around in front of you, play bow at you or bring you a toy to play with.
Attention seeking dogs
- Attention-grabbing tricks: sitting next to you, putting their face close to yours or in your lap, barking, howling and patting you with a paw.
- Don’t just ignore your dog; they can become destructive or frustrated and bad-tempered.
Bad-tempered and angry dogs
- Growling or baring its teeth - they might feel threatened and want to be left alone. Keep your distance from any dog in this mood.
- Always keep calm and walk away slowly – don’t run.
- Keep your hands in your pockets or cross your arms.
- Try not to look directly at the dog.
- Droopy ears and tail.
- Less energetic and ‘bouncy’ than usual – even grumpy.
- May also lose interest in food.
- A dog can show illness in many different ways, if in doubt talk to your vet.
- Flattened ears, lowered tail or tail between their legs.
- Hiding behind their owner, whining or growling - move away from the dog.
- If your own dog is scared, verbally reassure him; stay calm, speak softly and move away from whatever is making him nervous.
Safety around new dogs
We’ve all seen dogs out and about that look friendly, but it’s always important to take care with dogs you don’t know.
- Never rush up to a strange dog or shout loudly near him – this will scare him and he may react angrily.
- If you can see the owner and want to pet the dog – ask first, then hold out your hand and let him come to you.
- Don’t stare into a dog’s eyes – as this can be seen by the dog as threatening.
- If a dog growls at you or seems unfriendly, just calmly walk away.
- Don’t disturb a dog if he’s eating, drinking or has been tied up – and always let sleeping dogs lie.
- If a dog rolls on his tummy you may think that he wants his tummy tickled, but sometimes dogs do this if they are really frightened of you, don’t tickle him, but call him to you instead.
Keeping children safe around dogs
Teach your child to be calm and careful around dogs to ensure they stay safe!
- Children should never go near dogs they don’t know and only pat or play with a dog if they have asked the owner.
- Don’t let your children tease your dog or play too roughly with him.
- Teach your dog not to jump up at them or be too boisterous as this can lead to accidents.
- Tell them never to go near or disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, ill or injured as dogs may react badly.
Never leave young children unsupervised with any dog, even if it’s only for a few minutes.