Etiquette When Dealing with Strangers

Alert German Shepherd Dog

It’s a fact of life that dogs and cats can bite and nip with their teeth. While a cat doesn’t cause as much damage, a bad dog bite can result in serious consequences for the owner, even when it was likely not the dog’s fault. Animals can feel threatened, and they can sense people with bad intentions.
So, just how can we keep our dogs safe when random strangers and their pets approach us?

Consent is Best

Just like you wouldn’t touch a person without their permission, you shouldn’t be touching a dog without the owner’s consent too. As a dog owner, you should be advising friends and strangers if it’s fine to pet your dog. The same goes for if another dog is headed your way. Ask the owner if their dog likes other dogs. Only a dog owner knows their dog’s temperament and current mood. Sometimes it may be fine to pet a dog, but if the dog seems agitated or overly excited, it may be best to take a step back. If you anticipate any problems on the sidewalk or in the park, you can always redirect your dog to a different path.

The Sniff First Test

Dogs may not like a person’s scent and it may have nothing to do with how much deodorant they applied that day. They may have other pets’ smells on them or other strange scents that a dog doesn’t know.

Just like with a cat, you should be holding out your hand for the animal to sniff first. If they turn away, don’t press the matter. But if they want to be petted, they’ll show you where – top of head, cheek, or chin.

Gauge Mood of Owner

Even if the other dog seems 100% friendly, if the owner seems grumpy or ignores you, it’s probably best to not pet their dog. You should direct your own dog away from them. After all, there will be plenty of other dogs on the path that you will get to meet.


If you have houseguests staying overnight and are uncertain if they are dog lovers, let them know that your dogs love company. By now your dogs should know some basic dog commands, such as sit or stay, so that the dogs don’t jump all over the visitors. You can teach your visitors how to give these commands to the dogs too. But if you do have an overly anxious dog, this might be the night that the dog is kept with you in your bedroom with the door shut.

Hire a Simple Puppy Dog Trainer

If your dog gets crazily excited around strangers, causing them to avoid you, it may be time to hire a professional dog trainer. They can train your dog to not get overly excited and jump on people. It may take a bit of time, but you can get your dog to learn to stay calm and focused.

You and your dog will have a happier life together once you both understand how to interact with other people and their pets.

Featured image from Pexels