Recognizing the Signs of a Friendly Dog

How do you know if a dog is safe to pet?

Parents try very hard to teach their kids to always ask before they pet a strange dog.  It’s a great habit to teach.  However sometimes the dog owner themselves is not aware of the signs their dog is giving off.

Be respectful of dogs and their space, not all dogs like strangers in their space.  In this short video you will see a highly social puppy run up and greet some guests.

  • The base of her tail never rises above her spin.  Look at the first two inches of the tail and it’s alignment with the spine.  A tail in line with the spine is usually an indication of a comfortable dog.  She is also wagging back and forth in a smooth flowing movement rather than flicking her tail.
  •  Her ears are back as she approaches.
  •  She has an open mouth that almost looks like she is smiling.  No teeth are exposed in her smile.
  •  Her body is wiggly.  Not a very technical term as such, but typically a wiggly dog is a friendly dog.  A dog that frames itself up and looks rigid is not one that you want to pet.
  •  As she approaches the guests, she curls in and comes around to their sides.  At times her body looks like the edge of a paperclip.  This is her way of saying she is happy and excited to see the guests and welcomes them.

All these signs put together make for a very happy, social dog that is seeking out human attention.  This is the kind of dog that I would feel totally comfortable with my child interacting with.  Get into the habit of looking at dogs on the street and how they act when they see strangers.  You can train your eye to better see the signs.  Dogs are honest; most people just don’t know how to read the signs.

Recognizing Sociable Dogs

Body Language in Dogs

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