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To the Rescue: How to Pet a Dog

Petting cute doggies on the street can be very tempting... but tricky! Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Get the okay from the owner. Many owners have specific leash behavior rules (like the dog must sit before he can be greeted) so it's best to check in before you stick out your hand. You're also making sure it's safe to proceed as some of the nicest dogs around can still have leash aggression.
  2. Get the okay from the dog. Get down on his level. As a simple courtesy to the pup, slowly extend your hand for the dog to sniff. This introduces him to your scent, and double-checks that he is interested in your affections.
  3. Be gentle. Pet gently with short, even strokes. Start along his back while talking calmly... and looking out for wagging tails!
  4. Find pup's favorite spot. Most dogs catch on quickly and will soon be leaning their heads (and twisting their bodies) to get closer until you figure out where they like to be petted. If at any time he struggles to move away, stop.

You did it! Say thank you and move on!


Join The Conversation
NiceDriveway NiceDriveway 9 years
Most people don't understand. We've seen the dog whisperer...we all know. I totally agree with BShax. DO NOT look the dog in the eye right away and stick your face in theirs. I should know--I had a small Bichon and tried to pick him up when he didn't want to be picked up. I got down at his level and...well, 9 stiches in my lip.
almostloli almostloli 9 years
i always ask the owner, or tried to make eye contacts or smile and see his/her reaction, whether he/she shows 'okay'ness by nodding her head or something like that
JessNess JessNess 9 years
I get sooooooooooooo annoyed when people, mostly kids, do not ask me if they can pet my dogs. I have a big fluffy dog that kids love and she is friendly so kids like to reach out and pet her as she walks by. It could be dangerous. They dont know my dogs behavior and I dont know the kids. My dog could get excited and jump on the kids and she is well over 100lbs. Also my other dog has trust issues with strangers (was abused as a puppy) so when people just try to pet him it really is dangerous because he will growl and do a warning snap which is not good. We work hard to keep him from doing that but you never know his mood
BShax BShax 9 years
Oh Pet Sugar you should know better. You do not get down on a dogs level right away and you never look a dog in the eyes, it is a sign of aggression and one of the number one ways people get bit in the face. When you meet a new dog and ONLY if you have permission from the owner, stay standing, hold your hand out palm up and wait for the dog to make contact with you. Then, after a few moments of petting you can sit NEXT TO the dog and pet him/her freely. But please, no sticking your face in a dogs face right away to "get on his level!"
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 9 years
Everybody should follow these steps! It's about dealing with someone else's dog and the owner who's trying to go for a walk!
bgirl bgirl 9 years
yes that is basically why i posted this. i agree with redegg that you should *always* be cautious first and non-threatening if you get the heads up to pet a dog, but please do ask first, and if you have children, teach them to ask first also! i have no problem when adults/kids pet my dogs, i just want them to ask first and make sure it's a good time ;-)
Gdeeaz Gdeeaz 9 years
its good that u posted this, ppl try to pet my dog all the time, and i do not mind if they pet her, but they should ask first. when a complete stranger comes up to me and my dog and just pets her, i feel a lil akward, and disrespected, i mean you wouldnt go up to a mom and her child and start playing with the child without the moms consent.
redegg redegg 9 years
I read that you should also approach a dog from the side and never put your face directly in his face because it is aggressive to them. They have a whole etiquette of their own. :)
bgirl bgirl 9 years
if i see a cute dog, and the owner and dog are near me, and seem friendly, i may go up and pet the dog. however, i try to be courteous, because more often than dogs being unfriendly, a lot of times the owner is just trying to take a walk, or trying to get the dog to go to the bathroom. i myself just rescued a new puppy last month, and it has been difficult to potty train him and take him for walks to go to the bathroom, because everyone and every child just runs right up to him and pets him or wants to play with him while i am trying to teach him to go potty outside. i think the etiquette part needs to be stressed more here than anything!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I miss my dogs :(
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I never walk up to someones dog and pet it unless I know that person and dog well. I'm not scraed of dogs, but I know that some are not so nice as mine and can be cranky.
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