Misreading what the dog is trying to say something totally different is one of the most typical mistakes an owner can make with one’s beloved dog. Humans do this often. The body language of dogs says one thing, and we take it into something different since we are grounding our guess on what we feel. In reality, dogs read and perceive the world much different compared to the human beings. Once we, the human beings, know how to understand our dogs better, we could avoid several dog bites and some behavioral issues.
A hug, for example, means something different from the perception of dogs compared to humans. To us, a hug indicates affection and love. When we are welcomed by a hug, it makes us feel good inside and feel loved. In contrast, hugging is not considered as an affection, at all. To dogs, hugging represents a social status ranking as an invasion of space and dominance, similar to the lower members of the pack offers space to the higher members to pay respect. The body position is meaningful to a dog as well. The one who is on top signifies a higher status ranking. Thus, the moment you bend down and wrap your arms around your dog, you aren’t actually on top, and you’re in their space.
Once you let your children hug a strange dog, you are taking a risk on the reaction of the dog. Even the owner cannot predict what the reaction of the dog will be. The appropriate way to greet a strange dog is to make your body turn sideways without eye-to-eye contact, and let the dog smell you. This is how to greet a dog properly in their language in a non-confrontational way.
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