Rule number one of human-dog interaction…

is what your mother taught you as a child: “Never pet a strange dog.”

But that doesn’t mean we always listen.

Yesterday, at an outdoor market, I saw a cute puppy leashed to a pole behind a vendor’s tent. Without thinking, I leaned down to scratch it’s head, which it tolerated for a few seconds right before lunging at me.

I turned and ran, but the puppy caught my calf and raked its toenails across, leaving long, red scratches. The whole incident only took a few seconds, after which, the owner whipped around in her chair, eyes wide, and apologized profusely. “It’s okay,” I replied while limping away, “I probably shouldn’t have approached him.”

I’m sharing this story as a cautionary tale for my readers. There is a right and wrong way to approach a dog.

The following short video will explain everything you need to do to stay safe:

In summary:

  • Never approach a dog that is alone and tied up (my mistake)
  • Ask the owner first if you may pet the dog
  • Extend your fist  to allow the dog to smell you
  • If the dog sniffs/licks your fist, go ahead and stroke under the chin
  • If the dog backs away, leave it alone

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