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The SAFE Way to Greet a Dog

May 13-19th is National Dog Bite Prevention Week.  There are many things people can do to avoid dog bites, which include  knowing how and when it is appropriate to approach and greet a seemingly friendly pup.  Below are a few tips from Lina Eklöf, one of our dog training experts.
When you see a dog walking with their dog parents on leash, follow the SAFE way to greet a dog:
  • Stop, stand still and turn sideways before you get close to the dog. Crouching down to meet a little dog is recommended, as bending over can intimidate a little one!
  • Ask the pet parent if you can pet their dog first.
  • Fist: Offer a closed fist (palm facing the floor) for the dog to sniff, while standing still and looking down.
  • Exit slowly away from the dog by backing away.
If a dog is friendly, you should pet a dog under his chin, you should not pet a dog on top of the head.   [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="231"] Jelly the bulldog[/caption] Asking to pet a dog will give you info on how the dog may react and the dog parents enough time to prepare. Just make sure to listen to what the dog’s parent tells you. If the dog parent asks you not to pet their dog, it’s okay, as the dog may feel grumpy that day. Exit slowly away from the dog by backing up. If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon tied around it’s leash, ignore the dog as that dog requires some extra space (the Yellow Dog Project)! Using the safe method ensures that a dog has a moment to meet a child and feels comfortable with petting. We should discourage children from running up to dogs, petting them on the top of the head or face, and giving the dogs kisses. From the dog’s point of view, it’s rude to place your face close to their face or receive pets on the head. Think about it, what if I greeted everyone with a pat on the head? Funny, huh! Instead, we shake hands while standing still and with distance between us. If a dog seems shy and is backing away, you should do the same; the dog is intimidated and needs some more exposure to people before it is ready to greet someone! Come in to one of our stores for our “Play it Safe” FREE 30 minutes seminar providing you with more tips on how to keep children safe and dogs happy (May 18th and 19th at 2pm)!
In addition to Lina's fantastic tips, we also recommend learning about the Yellow Dog Project,  ( a great campaign that was created to bring awareness to the general public about dogs who need space while training, recovering from surgery, or being rehabilitated.