How To Approach Stray Dogs?

Learn to let them trust you first!

How to Approach Stray Dogs?

Stray dogs can be dangerous, and should always be remember that they are probably frightened by us. If we unintentionally threaten them, they could become violent. If you want to approach a stray dog, follow these steps. Ideally, the dog will gradually learn to trust you, and hopefully become tame enough for you to adopt the stray dog home.

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1. Do Not Run

This is the simplest and most important thing to remember – stay calm! If a stray dog is barking at you from a distance, it is most likely warning you to stay off its territory. It will stand at the edge of its territory and bark to warn you against entering it. As long as you remain calm and walk away from the dog, there will be no issues.

2. Beware

An aggressive dog may show specific body language indicating its aggressiveness. This might include eyes that look larger than normal, lips moved to show teeth, ears positioned up and forward, a stiff tail possibly with a slow wag, hair standing along the back, and more. You need to pay attention for any signs of aggression! Do not approach a dog that you think may be aggressive. After all, you are a stranger and will need time to gain the dog’s trust!

3. Avoid Prolonged Eye Contact

Look to one side of the dog rather than staring it down. Dogs consider this to be a sign of domination. They interpret it as a kind of challenge, and it can cause the dog to think you want to fight. Just as you should avoid eye contact with the dog in general—as above—prolonged eye contact might also anger or scare the dog.

4. Get The Animal’s Attention

Often, making a soft clicking noise with your tongue, or talking to a stray quietly will be effective in getting a stray dog’s attention. It is imperative that you do not startle or scare a stray dog, as they can become defensive. Move slowly, remain calm, and use a soothing voice—doing so should keep you from scaring the dog, and thus help keep you safe too.

5. Approach the Dog Slowly

If you have gotten the dog’s attention, approach him very slowly, ideally from a crouching position so as to appear smaller than you are. This technique can help to make you appear less intimidating to the animal. Again, the less you scare the animal the more successful you’ll be in approaching safely and effectively.

6. Allow the Dog to Approach You

Once you have gotten close, allow the dog to come to you. You might be able to get the dog to come to you by calling it in a soothing voice, or putting out your hand if it shows interest, such as by wagging its tail. Gently pat the ground in front of you—you can also offer the dog strong-smelling food such as tuna or canned dog food to lure it to come closer.

Hold out your hand palm down. This is less threatening to most animals.

Observe the dog’s body language if it does not approach. You may slowly—very slowly—start to take a few small steps toward the animal if it seems friendly but shy. Be cautious, as the dog may be frightened by you moving toward it too closely. He or she may simply run away, or might also interpret your movement in a different way.

Updated: October 1, 2017.

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