Dogs can be difficult to resist. Their wagging tails and bright eyes can brighten the darkest days.
However, when a dog is stressed or overwhelmed, you may not receive the friendly greeting you hoped for. While there are statistics that support some breeds being more aggressive than others, it is important to know the signs that a dog wants more space.
Here’s what you should know about reading a dog’s body language to determine if they are comfortable meeting a new friend.
Not all wags are created equal
Early on, you may learn to associate a wagging tail with a happy and friendly dog. Although dogs wag when they are happy, dogs will also wag their tails when they are anxious and defensive.
Learning how to read the different wags a dog will do is important. For example, a comfortable dog will have a big relaxed wag, while a nervous dog will appear tense, and their wag will be smaller. If the dog in front of you seems apprehensive or scared, you should give them a lot of space and save a greeting for another time.
Watching for other warning signs
While the dog’s owner should know their pet best, sometimes owners are more worried about the perception that comes with a dog that needs space. Often, these owners will say things like, “It’s ok; he’s friendly.” Ignoring signs that a dog wants space can lead to a dangerous bite and teach the dog that its owner does not care about its boundaries.
When you meet a dog, pay attention to the tension in its body and how it approaches you. If the dog seems nervous or timid, it is best to give it space and hope the next wagging tail you meet is friendly.