The recent incident in which Sunny, one of the Obamas’ dogs, allegedly bit a visitor, who had reportedly tried to pet and kiss her, in the face is a reminder that dogs should be approached with caution.
Always ask dog guardians if it’s OK to pet their dogs. Never run up to or approach dogs head-on; instead, approach from the side, calmly and slowly. Keep your posture relaxed. Don’t loom. Kneel or squat down to make yourself seem smaller. Don’t stare directly into a dog’s eyes – blink frequently and look away to show that you’re nonthreatening. Let the dog sniff you and decide whether to approach you and accept your attention. If so, pet the dog’s chest from below – never reach for the top of the head. If not, then do not force yourself on the dog. Above all, never hug a dog. Many dogs tolerate embraces from family members, but they make most dogs feel trapped.
It’s also important never to leave animals or children together unattended. Both can be unpredictable, and even the most docile of dogs may bite if startled while sleeping or if his or her tail is pulled.
Having dogs spayed or neutered also reduces aggression and territoriality that can lead to biting – unaltered dogs are three times as likely to bite. And dogs who are leashed, caged, or otherwise confined and can’t retreat are especially susceptible to biting. Chained dogs are nearly three times as likely to bite because they are often unsocialized and have no way of escaping from people who encroach on their tiny territory.
For more tips, visit www.PETA.org.
The PETA Foundation