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Who can resist the urge to pet every dog they see? It can be challenging, but you should always resist the impulse. Most dogs probably love the attention, but there are situations when it’s a bad idea to pet a dog, whether it’s your own dog, a friend’s dog, or a stranger’s dog. (And we should remind you very clearly: Always ask for permission before petting any dog that isn’t your own.)

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends avoiding these ten scenarios to help prevent provoking a dog to bite.

  1. Attempting to pet a dog who is not with their owner.
  2. If the dog is with his owner, but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog.
  3. If the dog is on the other side of a fence, don’t reach through or over the barrier to touch the dog.
  4. If a dog is sleeping or eating.
  5. If a dog is sick or injured.
  6. If a dog is resting with her puppies or seems very protective of them and anxious about your presence.
  7. If a dog is playing with or chewing on a toy.
  8. If the dog is a service dog. Service dogs are working animals and shouldn’t be distracted while they are doing their jobs.
  9. If the dog is growling or barking.
  10. If the dog appears to be hiding, trying to get away, or seeking time alone in their crate or other designated space.

These may seem like simple precautions, and they are! But they’re also easy to forget when you see a cute fluffball of fur or a soulful gaze. Responsible dog ownership and dog interaction isn’t complicated, but it’s vital to the health, happiness, and safety of dogs and people. Every dog can bite, regardless of size or breed.

If you have a puppy, early socialization and training will help lead to a lifetime of predictable behavior.
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