As more people take their dogs outside to enjoy the summer weather, Humane Society of West Michigan is launching its “Always Ask” campaign, sharing safety advice for interacting with dogs.
More warm and sunny days means more dogs on the streets, and HSWM believes it’s important that the community knows how to approach dogs to protect themselves and the animals.
“The goal of this campaign is to make a habit of respecting the animal’s needs over our own,” said Trudy Jeffers, Executive Director at HSWM. “Animals, especially dogs, have boundaries just like humans and simply need their space. They will let you know if they don’t want to interact by giving basic cues.”
HSWM provides the following tips when meeting a dog:
- The first step is Always Ask. Always ask the owner to meet the dog.
- Avoid eye contact. For people, eye contact gains trust, but for animals, eye contact can be a signal of aggression.
- “Side up” to the dog if the owner says it's okay. This stance is often better than facing the animal head-on. A side-by-side stance mimics how dogs interact with each other, which will make the dog feel safer with you.
- Don't crouch over the dog. Squat, or stand up straight when meeting a dog. These options are less threatening to the dog and helps them establish trust.
- Let the dog come to you. Walking directly towards a dog may make the dog think you are threatening them.
- Don't pat the dog's head or back end. If the dog is open to it, focus on touching the dog with your open hand on his shoulder, neck, or chest.
- Stop when the dog wants to stop. The dog will let you know when he’s done by changing his position.
To learn more about Humane Society of West Michigan or to donate, please visit www.hswestmi.com.
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