How to approach a dog?

As you know, last weekend I met up with Mollie (you can read the post here). While we were together we took a walk down a french market which was fairly busy. I don’t have a lot of experience of walking down busy streets and was surprised how many people wanted to say hello to me. I was even more surprised that most of those people didn’t ask first, they just decided to swoop and start stroking me. And without even the customary offering of the hand first.

I don’t know if this is because my head is at the height of most people’s hands, or if they just took a liking to me. Either way they are lucky that I’m pretty friendly. If I wasn’t they would’ve got a surprise and maybe a few less fingers!


me and Mollie

Purely out of curiosity I was wondering what you make of this? Would you approach a dog without knowing his/her temperament? Or would you ask first? It worries me a little that people we met didn’t, but perhaps I’m overreacting. What do you think?


ps, apologies for not visiting regularly and not replying to comments lately. Due to mummy’s new work commitments I’m reduced to waiting till she gets home to to help me with my bloggy. And that’s been sporadic at best. I think I should start giving her a grade like Spitty does.


80 Comments on “How to approach a dog?”

  1. fozziemum says:

    Totally agree Misaki..I never ever go touch any animal without first asking my customary “may I say hello to your pup” if I am told yes I approach by placing my hand out for sniffs..after sniffs I scratch under the chin..i never ever approach even a friendly dog from over the head as this is a sensitive zone due to the inability of the dog to see what’s happening..i watch for clues of discomfort as even owners sometimes do NOT know their dogs reaction to any stranger…i.e I smell like cats..i smell like my dogs..sheep etc…recently I asked a man if I could say hello to his pooches in the back of his ute..i approached as I said..they were at face height as they were in the ute tray..all went well then one went nuts really aggro barking in my face..i stepped away ..the guys said ‘oh she’s never done that before” ..clearly the dog was uncomfortable for some reason..i don’t blame the dog..for whatever reason she felt she was threatened ..I do hope the owner remembers this and next time says to people not to pat his dog…at the level this doggie was she could have taken my face off ..and it was without the usual signs to me..bit of a ramble but a great post Misaki 🙂 hugs Fozziemum xx

  2. Dalton says:

    You’re right pal, it is very important that people learn how to approach a dog or any animal properly with the right amount of respect and understanding!!

  3. Whenever I see kids around and coming towards Doggy, I always say no and pull Doggy closer to me. Doggy tends to be shy, and you never know how he is going to react to loud/excited kids. I always tell parents to ask before.
    You are not overreacting, I wouldn’t approach a wolf like you without asking if it’s ok, some dogs just don’t like to be petted (Doggy for example).
    Now tell us the facts, how many kids did you eat?

  4. Pretty much sums up why I don’t like big crowds. Don’t think you are overreacting at all. People just assume it is OK to lunge at us. I don’t like it either. Have a tremendous Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  5. dezizworld says:

    OMC Misaki meez suwe glad yous wus furiendly tu all da idiots. Cuz deys wus vewy wong tu just stawt manhandlin’ yous like dat. Even tho’ wees become furiends now meez wuld still offew meez paw aftew askin’ yous pawents ifin meez kuld say hello. and den aftew yous sniffed meez paw and butted yous head against it meez wuld pet yous and luv yous den. 🙂 Maybe yous shuld hav a cawd like meez has dat sez don’t touch until yous asked. 🙂

    Luv and Hugs and Kitty kisses ♥♥♥


  6. Misaki I asked my Mom about this and she said she NEVER pets a pup without asking first….some dogs love strangers but you can’t ASSUME that. No matter how friendly they look, they might be guarding their human or having a bad day – always ask PERIOD! You are gorgeous of course and everyone is wanting to touch your pretty furs, but they better watch out or they might discover a few less fingers right??? HAHAHAHA

    Hugs, Sammy

  7. Rachael says:

    Hi Misaki, I’m jealous that those people got to stroke you, I’d love to, you look so soft! Although, I agree, you should most certainly ask first. I watched countless strangers go up to a pug in the town centre yesterday (lots of kids too) just going up and stroking her. Her owner looked really uncomfortable. I asked if I could stroke her and her owner said that she was a little shy and overwhelmed, so I left it. By those strangers just stroking her without asking made her very stressed, so it’s definitely important to ASK first. Good job you’re such a people person Misaki! x

    • Misaki says:

      It can be really stressful. I’m not that used to kids and have had a few of those pulling my ears before now. That’s not fun

  8. I always always ask, then offer a hand, wait for the sniff of acceptance and then pet. As someone who was once petrified of dogs, this is engrained in me with every animal. Cats as well, even my own cats I do this with.

  9. katiebblogs says:

    Misaki, people are lucky you are so friendly. You’re right, they should probably wait and be a little cautious because you never know if a dog will be surprised!

  10. That is a great picture of you and Molly. I agree people should ask first I think it is common doggy editicate.

  11. I think people should ask first. We mostly avoid it that people try to pet Easy, he is a big guy and sometimes a little dashing. I’m also a little handicapped from a post where a man did a weird thing before he came over and petted a dog :o)

  12. Frankie and Ernie says:

    WE like Peeps… butt we want them to be RESPECTFUL… Some ARE NOT. Some just don’t THINK. Silly and RUDE behavior, if you ask US. THEN they wonder why we .. react.

  13. PigLove says:

    I totally agree 100% – people should talk, ask first, and give a hand to smell. When I was out last night at the strawberry farm, people just wanted to come up to me head first and pet me. Mommy had to tell them to stop. You see with me, my eyes are kind of positioned on the sides of my head. You can’t come at me straight. I can’t see you when you do this cause you’re in my ‘blind spot’. You need to come up to me from the side so I can see you. And then give me your hand. After that, I’m yours to pet and feed all you want! But ask first. XOXO – Bacon

  14. hungryhungryhippo404 says:

    Last weekend I went with my friend and her beautiful puppy to a dog walk in Canberra, Australia that was raising money for the RSPCA. The gorgeous pup was a magnet for everyone and I was impressed by the number of people who actually asked before patting him, especially the children! Personally I think it depends on the situation, but it is always important to look at the animal’s body language and make sure they can see your hand before you pat them. I mean groping an attractive stranger in public without prior warning? That’s just poor etiquette 😛

  15. No need to apologize! Life happens sometimes and it is hard to be everywhere at once.
    I always run into this problem! People seem to think it is ok to just walk up and start petting your dog. I do not like when they do this, and most of the time I have no issues about telling them how I feel about it!!!!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  16. Jane Y. says:

    oh i always get down to the dog’s level and put my fist out for them to sniff. i do this because piri, while he’s friendly, get a bit shy and timid. there have been so many people who just go and pat him on the head (sometimes pretty hard too) and piri gets scared. he does one of two things – either crouch down lower or he makes it like he’s going to bite the person (he’s not a biter though). i always have to explain to people that my dog is deaf (if they are approaching from behind) and you have to be slow with him and if they still want to pet, i get down on his level and i massage his neck and pet him on the head so that he’ll feel comforted.

  17. It's Dog or Nothing says:

    That is one of my biggest pet peeves. People approach my dogs all the time without asking. The worst is when parents let their kids run to my dogs and try to hang on them. They are lucky that Mauja and Atka are so friendly and tolerant. I’m still learning to be more assertive and tell people to please ask before petting my dogs for training purposes. I don’t want my dogs to think they can be excited and crazy when people approach them. They’re still learning to sit calmly for greeting and when people suddenly approach my training goes out the window.

    • Misaki says:

      Yes, totally get what you’re saying. Kids are either scared and run or they overdo the attention, there doesn’t seem to be a happy medium

  18. Kyla says:

    But you look so happy and huggable.

  19. Two French Bulldogs says:

    I have noticed a lot more parents telling their kids to ask if they could pet us! Yay!!
    Lily & Edward

  20. Kuruk says:

    Mama always makes us ask first before meeting a new pup! WOoooooowoooooooooo beauwooowoooootiful girls! 🙂

  21. Very interesting question, Misaki! I trained prison inmates how to obedience train rescue dogs that were later put up for adoption. I am surprised anyone would simply begin petting a strange dog without asking first or offering a hand to sniff. One never knows the environment that dog came from – even when they are with responsible pet owners, there are lots of rescues out there who had been previously abused. I always instruct people to keep their hands to themselves initially so they don’t startle or frighten the dog, and then to slowly reach out the back of their hand, moving up toward the muzzle and never in a downward motion. Once the dog has sniffed their hand and looked them in the eye, they can pet the dog. I’ve also learned that dogs that are always petted on the tops of their heads can often keep their heads down as though they’d been scolded; but they’re actually offering the top of their head. I always try to pet my dogs under their muzzle or in their “tickle” spots and stay away from the top of their heads.

  22. I don’t especially like people jumping in and touching me without permission. Mostly people ask, but once in a while, I get ambushed.

    Love and licks,

  23. cecilia07 says:

    Madi your BFFF
    PS people should even ask before petting a pet when in the lets home!

  24. We’ve seen a lot of people do this, but we don’t have that problem. Most people look at Vlad and back off; cross the street; grab their little dogs up to their armpits; and any other number of things. They’ve got “big, black dog syndrome,” and there’s nothing we can do to fix that. The few people that do ask if he’s friendly have always asked–since they’re obviously braver than the street-crossers, but they’re still not brave enough to get near without permission.

  25. raisingdaisy says:

    You’re absolutely right. I’d never just reach out to a dog without asking the owner first. It’s rude besides being risky. Sometimes even friendly dogs just don’t want to be touched by strangers. Makes me want to reach out and mess their hair up without asking too. 😉

  26. Mum’s mum has three German Shepherds and it amazes all of us that people come running over… luckily they’re all furiendly but these people have obviously never seen trained police dogs in action! What really annoys the humans though is when people feed them treats without asking permission! Silly humans!

  27. Emmadog says:

    Because my big sister is white, people naturally think she must be friendly, little do they know, many Kuvasz dogs are not at all nice to strangers. I don’t think people think it through when they decide to pet strange dogs.

  28. Some people have no common sense.

  29. Sorry your mum is busy with work, that happens to us all the time. We want her to hire an assistant to help out.

    We don’t think you are over reacting. People need to be careful with unknown dogs, as some of us are sensitive.

  30. People can be so stupid sometimes….they don’t know if a dog is friendly or not and yet still just swoop in for a pet. We always ASK the dog’s human first…then give the old “here’s my hand for a sniff” before actually petting.
    Have a terrierific weekend, Misaki.

  31. They want to say hello cuz of your nice smile!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

    Pee Ess – We have a POTP update for our furiend Abby who crossed the bridge.

  32. beth says:

    We always put our hand out and ask if we can touch the dog. You’re crazy if you don’t, you don’t know a strange dog’s tempermant!!!!

  33. Yes, I would ask first. I use to let Ruckus run up to other dogs because he was so friendly but realize that no all dogs are as friendly as he is!

  34. Laika says:

    Mom and dad would definitely ask first if the dog is friendly. They like all their fingers lol. Sniff and wags from Laika and Vaks.

  35. you are 100% right no touching if you don’t ask. Our bulldog Bob does not like being approached by strangers unless he is out with us solo, if he iswith our other dogs he is quite stand offish. I always tell people not to pet him please and some people actually get mad! He is in control so he seems calm but I know he doesn’t like being approached so I have to honor that. I do encourage people to pet Weasley as he is super friend, IF, they ask first.

    retro rover

    Ps Im also a special ed teacher and I always tell my student syou must ask before you pet

  36. You are so right Misaki, people need to be educated because it’s not fair to dog’s who DON’T like to be pet or approached by strangers.

  37. Nylabluesmum says:

    Funny you say that Misaki as I find your Mum is the MOST dedicated blogger here…she replies to every comment left…I figure she sleeps for like 3 hours a night, lol….
    Now to your topic: I ALWAYS ask the owner of the dog if he/she is friendly & whether I may offer my hand to be sniffed. I always present the knuckles & never the tips of fingers….
    If the dog shies away or looks upset I back off. If the dog nuzzles or licks my hand then I ask where poochie likes strokes the best. It is all about respecting the dog’s space. Mind you if I were to meet you i would probably just throw my arms around you & hug you w/out a care in the world…….
    Much love Sherri-Ellen ❤ & Nylablue ❤

  38. You seem to have generated quite a discussion with this topic! I think some humans just have no sense at all. I wonder how they would like it if someone came up and patted their cheeks. I just grin and wag my tail and secretly shake my head.

  39. Mags Corner says:

    We think you are right sweet Misaki. Even a friendly, sweet animal might nip a hand if startled from a touch from above or behind them. Great post and we think it is just super that you and Mollie got together for a nice stroll. Hugs and nose kisses

  40. If I am walking a dog I never let anyone stroke it especially kids as you never know x

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