Tips for Approaching Strange Dogs

Usually held the third full week in May, Dog Bite Prevention Week was recently moved to the second full week of April. This year, it was April 9 through April 15.

Photo of Nola and Charles Nola says, "The first thing that comes to my mind is trust... Dog's need to know they can trust you."

With the weather getting nicer and everyone preparing for summer, another reminder seemed appropriate. We need to be prepared at all times.

The areas that PWNA’s Reservation Animal Rescue™ (RAR) program serves have a high rate of stray and homeless animals. Our partners work tirelessly with tribal agencies to ensure the safety of humans and livestock — all while working to rescue animals that need to be fostered, re-socialized, and rehomed.

During National Dog Bite Prevention week, we asked our partners to weigh in on rescuing dogs that have bit someone in the past or provide guidance on approaching strange animals. They offered sound advice:

Nola from 12 Hills Dog Rescue in Nebraska:

The first thing that comes to my mind is trust.

We began our rescue in 2008, but have been helping abandoned dogs long before that. Dogs need to know they can trust you. Dogs that have been abused or neglected usually cower and their tail is between their legs. Others show aggression when their tail goes straight up, or the hair rises on their backs.

It is always a good idea when encountering a new dog, to:

  • Allow the dog to come to you.
  • Never extend your hand with fingers out, or raise your hand up when meeting a new dog.
  • Move slowly and talk softly and allow them to get to know you. Sometimes it is even best to stand still, and allow them to get a good look at you.
  • For children and adults alike, NEVER stick your face in a dog’s personal space.

Photo of Dr. Kreisler Dr. Kreisler notes that, "Any dog can be dangerous and any dog can bite."

Our very first rescue was a mama dog with 8 very young puppies. The owner wanted the dog and pups removed from his home, and called the police. When the police officer came to take her, she bit him. The officer wanted her killed, and the puppies wouldn’t have survived. Our rescue fought to save both Be Be and her puppies. Those puppies found their forever homes and Be Be found a lovely lady who saw her potential. Be Be is loved and has a great life. We see her posts on Facebook from time to time and it reminds us just how important it is to give rescue dogs the time and opportunity to develop trust, and love again.

Dr. Rachel Kreisler from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Midwestern:

  • Any dog can be dangerous and any dog can bite.
  • Be sure to ask permission before touching or playing with an owned dog with the owner present, and make confident, slow movements.
  • Avoid engaging with free-roaming dogs, and report to the authorities any free-roaming dogs displaying aggressive behavior.
  • 70-76% of reported dog bites are from intact male dogs.

While we all love animals and want to help, caution needs to guide our actions whenever feasible. Sign up to download our "Dog Bite Prevention Tips" today.