Humans standing on two feet are much taller than dogs and are often intimidating. You are less of a threat if you squat so you are closer to eye level with the dog. Avoid bending over to pet the dog as some see this as an invasion of their space.
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Do not force the interaction, but wait for the dog to come to you. Some dogs have more experience interacting with strangers while others are shy. If the dog wants to interact with you, it will approach. If the dog does not come to you, thank the owner and go about your business.
Close your hand and hold it out to the dog. Let him sniff your hand and choose if he wants further attention. The closed hand is smaller than when you stretch out your fingers with an open palm so it is less threatening. Keeping the fingers tucked in a fist instead of approaching with an open hand also reduces the chances of a bite.
Choose Where to Touch
If the dog still seems relaxed, begin petting him lightly, using the back of your hand on the chest, shoulders or neck. With a new dog, it is important to avoid the top of the head or hindquarters in order to prevent a threatening approach.
Respect the Dog
The dog should let you know when he is done with the encounter. Watch for clues and respect his wishes.
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