There is no fool proof way to avoid being bitten. If a dog is provoked, there is a good chance it will lash out. Thankfully most dogs are kind enough to give warning of an impending chomp. Occasionally a human will disregard the warning and problems ensue.
Study the Body Language
Not all tail wags are friendly, not all panting is excitement! It is important to remember the basics of canine body language. If a dog lowers his head, flattens his ears and offers a low, slow wag he is letting the person know he isn’t in the mood for games. The person should avoid direct eye contact and wait until the dog loses interest. Sudden movements such as running, screaming or flailing the arms will most likely send the dog into attack mode. If the dog does attack, give the snarling beast a jacket, purse, fanny pack, or something else that creates a barrier between the person and the dog.
Know the Dog, Respect the Owner
Some people just can’t help themselves. They want to get in a dog’s face, tell them how cute they are, and scratch their ears. There are dogs out there that crave this type of attention from strangers. And there are dogs that would rather take a hundred baths than be touched by someone they don’t know. Always ask the owner! The owner knows their dog better than anyone. They’ll tell you whether their dog is approachable or not.
Respect the Owner
Many owners of skittish dogs will go to great lengths to ensure their furbabies do not encounter any stressors when out and about. This includes their daily walks. If an owner suddenly switches sides as a person passes, it isn’t personal. They’re number one priority is the emotional well-being of their dog. If an owner politely, or even rudely, denies a request to pet their dog, respect it. It’s their job to know what their dog’s limitations are.
Allow the Sniff Test
A wary dog will often sniff a new person to determine whether they want to be petted. Stand still, do not engage in any communication and allow the dog to conduct his research. The person they’re sniffing may be the kind of person that releases spiders in the yard instead of flushing them down a toilet, but if they don’t pass the sniff test, respect the dog’s judgment and move along.
Sleep on, Little Doggy
If a dog is sleeping, let him sleep. Some dogs that are easily startled may bite first and ask questions later. No matter how gentle the touch, an easily spooked dog is a bite waiting to happen.