The consensus among animal behavior professionals is that the major cause of dog bites to humans is related to failure of owners and dog bite victims to recognize when dogs are fearful and know how to approach and greet dogs appropriately. But what exactly is the correct approach and why do so many people fail to do it?
One issue is that we humans have an instant gut reaction to the cuteness of some dogs. It’s the same reaction we had as a child when we saw a cute teddy bear or other stuffed animal. As a result we treat pets as if they are cuddly toys. While many dogs are friendly, cute, and love interacting with humans, they are definitely not toys. In fact, when you think about it, dogs are a bit like humans in that the same types of inappropriate greetings that would cause a human to be afraid or irritated would cause a dog to become fearful and even aggressive too. Here are some examples:
While many humans routinely greet dogs inappropriately and many dogs put up with this socially inappropriate behavior, if you stop and think about it, correct greetings are common sense. We should be respectful of dogs instead of assuming they should be friendly and polite even when we humans are not.