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How Dogs Interpret Body Language

Posted on July 6th, 2022

Dogs are an extremely popular pet in Washington, and many people consider these animals to be an important part of their families. Consequently, we often forget that dogs are animals and impose human emotions and tendencies on them.

The fact is that dogs are equipped with their own instincts, thoughts, and interpretations. Understanding how dogs interpret body language is very important; any miscommunication could unintentionally provoke a dog to attack.

Eye Contact and Dogs

It can feel natural to make eye contact with a dog. For humans, eye contact is reassuring and helps establish a connection. For a dog, however, direct eye contact could be perceived as a threat.

When you approach an unfamiliar dog, avoid making eye contact with it. Instead, look over its head or to the side of its face. If the dog seems comfortable with you, you can make brief eye contact with it. Make sure to soften your eyes and avoid staring in the dog’s eyes for a long time.

Human Movement and Dogs

Dogs are very sensitive to human movement, especially when they are around people that they do not know. If you made any sudden, fast, or erratic motions, the dog could become alarmed or scared.

For best results, approach dogs in a slow, calm manner. Better yet, avoid approaching dogs that you do not know. If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, remain calm and stay still as the animal examines you.

Petting and Dogs

For many people, their first instinct when they see a dog is to pet it. Many dogs love pets and physical touch, but petting a dog in a rough or uncomfortable way could irritate or upset the animal.

When you encounter an unfamiliar dog, avoid reaching out to pet it. Instead, give the dog the opportunity to smell you and make the first contact. If the animal seems comfortable and accepting of a pet, you can scratch gently under its chin or behind its ear. Avoid petting the dog directly on the top of the head.

Body Orientation and Dogs

It is important to be aware of your body orientation when interacting with dogs. These animals often interpret a person who is standing tall and facing them directly as a threat. Additionally, dogs can feel uncomfortable if a person hovers or crouches over it.

For best results, approach the dog by kneeling sideways and keeping your hands close to your body. If you feel like the dog is extra wary of your presence, try to make yourself as small and non-threatening as possible.

What to Do If You Are Attacked by a Dog

While understanding how dogs interpret body language can reduce human-dog miscommunication, serious attacks may still occur. If you are bitten by a dog, you can feel scared and overwhelmed.

In these situations, it is important to seek help immediately. Get to a safe location and apply first aid to the bite if you are able. Go to the hospital, receive treatment for your injuries, and save all of your records. If you can, gather evidence at the scene by taking photographs and asking witnesses for their contact details.

Once you receive the treatment that you need, contact a Washington dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can represent your lawsuit against the animal’s owner and work to secure the compensation that you deserve.