How to Deal With an Unfriendly Dog

Dog. Man’s best friend. Typically our four-legged companions are friendly and playful, but it’s not unheard of to come across a less than cordial pup. Like many people, when you cross paths with an aggressive or timid dog, you’re probably not entirely sure what to do. Don’t fret, we’ve got some tips that will help you deal with an unfriendly dog and get you on their good side.

Get A Read On The Dog

Is the dog scared? Is it aggressive? Determining what emotions the dog is feeling is extremely important on easing the tension. Some physical signs to keep a look out for are bared teeth (aggression) or a tucked tail (fear). Quite possibly, the most important factor to account for is the dog’s background. Dogs with a history of abuse and neglect don’t trust strangers as easily, and it requires time and effort to make them comfortable around you. Every dog is different so learning their personality will go a long way in building a connection.

What You Should NOT Do

After getting a good read on an unfriendly dog, there are some things you should absolutely NOT do. First and foremost, don’t force anything. The process of forming trust between you and an unfriendly dog takes time and effort and is not something you can expedite. If the dog is asleep or eating, leave it alone. Seriously. You won’t make any friends bothering a dog during those times, and you run the risk of getting bit. Now that I mention it don’t bother any dog while they’re eating or sleeping, that’s not nice. Don’t try to force contact with the dog, let it come to you. If they’re ready to start a bond, you’ll know by them approaching you. When they do finally come around, don’t make any quick movements while you’re getting the sniff treatment. Quick movements will easily frighten the pup and set you back in the process. Lastly, don’t stare. Humans don’t like being stared at with wide, unblinking eyes, it’s creepy. Dogs don’t like it either and see it as a threat and show of dominance. In unfriendly dogs, it can also spur aggression.

What You Should Do

Dogs are great judges of character and can tell when you’re in a bad mood. Establishing a bond with an unfriendly dog is frustrating, but keep it calm and cool. Dogs aren’t going to respond well to frustration. This applies to body language and vocalizations. Ignoring the dog can work wonders when trying to become friendly. Sounds weird, right? When you ignore a dog, you’re sharing space with it and you seem less threatening when behaving normally. When they finally come around and let you pet them, don’t go at it like a barbarian and start patting them on the head. Keep your hands in sight of the dog and slowly move in with some soft pets or scratches. Moving slow gives you time to see how the dog will react. Keep an eye on their body language as your hand moves in. You might need to scrap your petting attempt depending on their reaction. The two quickest ways to any dog’s heart are food and play. Dogs bond extremely well with the people that feed them and take time out of their day to play and run around with them.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re faced with the challenge an unfriendly dog, and you’ll come out on the other side as pals.