Approaching an Unknown Dog

Filed Under: Dogs

Approaching an unknown dog.


Most dogs are friendly.  They just have great hearts, and love the companionship of humans.  Its what most of them live for.


But it is always prudent to ask the dog’s owner’s permission before approaching any unknown animal.   There may be circumstances you aren’t aware of that may dictate special considerations in interacting with a dog, especially if it is on leash.


Service dogs wear vests proclaiming that they are On The Job.  Seeing eye dogs, hearing ear dogs, therapy dogs including PTSD companion animals should not be approached, offered treats or petted.  Sometimes, when at rest or taking a break, the companion will release the dog from its vest to interact with people, but as long as that vest is on, we should not distract the animal from its duties.


I get people in the store all the time that comment that their dog is great at the dog park off leash, but as soon as they leash them, they get aggressive at other dogs or people approaching.  This doesn't seem logical.   But when you think about it a bit, it starts to make sense. 


When off leash, the dog is in free play mode, free to roam the pack and interact with their packmates.  They will usually share toys, and it's a rare occasion where two will start a squabble.


On leash, however, some dogs exhibit aggression to people or dogs approaching.  In my experience, these dogs seem to be protecting their owners from strangers.  Being tied to their owners, they are “on duty”, like a service dog.  My last dog, Zoey, would strain at her leash if people or dogs passed, growling or barking at them.  But as soon as she was released from her leash, she’d run around sniffing butts and looking for people to offer her treats, without the least bit of aggression.


If an owner isn’t present, do not approach an animal.  You can spook it into running, and could put it in more danger than it presently is in, especially if there is any traffic nearby.  Worse, it could be aggressive, either by nature or because of its present circumstances (it may be injured, confused, hungry) and can attack you.


Take a photo, and contact authorities.  Animal Services can be contacted through 311.  There is also a Facebook group, Winnipeg Lost Dog Alert, that you can post pictures to.  Or even check that FB page for current postings, and if you find the animal in question, post its latest known position.


Most dogs love people, and everybody loves to cuddle a puppy.  But there are times and places where we need to be cautious of our first contact, and by using a little common sense, we can ensure the safety of both ourselves and the pet.

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