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Tips On How to Greet a Dog: Prevent Dog Bites

Posted By SLCo Animal Services
April 23, 2021

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how to greet a dog

Warm weather is quickly approaching, as are gatherings with people and pets at parks, homes, and other locations. Salt Lake County Animal Services has some suggestions on How to Greet a Dog safely, whether it’s a dog you’re familiar with or one you’re meeting for the first time. Help your dog from being put in an uncomfortable situation with strangers, or even friends and family.

In 2020, Salt Lake County Animal Control Officers responded to over 650 bite calls and so far in 2021, nearly 200 bites. Help your dog from being put in an uncomfortable situation where they may bite strangers, or even friends and family. Dog bites occur for numerous reasons and reporting a bite is to ensure safety for the people and animals.

When you’re approaching a dog that you would like to pet but don’t know:

Step 1: Make sure the dog has a leash, a collar, and an owner. If it doesn’t, call Animal Control.

Step 2: Look at the dog’s body language. Look to see if it is a happy/relaxed dog. There are many      online resources that demonstrate dog body language.

Step 3: Ask permission from the Owner: “May I please pet your dog?” It is okay if the owner says no!

Step 4: If you have permission, do a quick body language check again.
Common mistakes:
-Putting your hand up to a dog’s nose. Dog’s do not need to smell your hand. 
-Leaning over the dog or put your face into the dog’s face

Step 5: Angle body slightly away from dog.

Step 6: Keep hands to yourself until the dog approaches you, seeking out interaction.

Step 7: Pet the dog calmly and quietly, avoiding sensitive areas.

Step 8: Remain standing if it is a large or medium sized dog. If it is a small dog, you can crouch down, making sure you are still not leaning over the dog.


Please visit our YouTube Channel for a video with more information or request a Dog Bogy Language presentation from our Humane Educator.

What should I do if I get bit by an animal?

For if the tooth breaks skin, you can report the bite incident to your local animal control. To report a bite, call Salt Lake County Animal Services Dispatch at 801-840-4000.

Why should I report the bite?

There are two reasons why bite reports should be filed. The first is rabies control. Our local public health authorities need to investigate if rabies could have been transmitted to the victim. Secondly, the health authorities track the data and trends in animal bites to people within the community.