catsittingstill: (Default)
[personal profile] catsittingstill
So, I was never a dog person.  I knew I didn't understand dogs (and didn't particularly like most dogs though some individual dogs were quite nice.)  So I didn't mess with dogs.  Then I took up with my husband who really is a dog person, and learned that there are ways to see what a dog is feeling beyond tail wagging / not wagging and ways to approach dogs that make them generally more comfortable, and got better at interacting with dogs.

Now even at my most clueless I knew some of this stuff and knew I didn't know some of this stuff, and made the sensible choice not to approach dogs when I didn't know how, but--as a general primer on interacting with dogs let me say a few things.

If you want to pet a dog you don't just walk up and grab.  There are stages to this approach and the dog gets a veto over it.  Or at least it does if you don't want to get bitten. 

You start by slowly approaching the dog, without staring at it, because that's hostile.  You stop several feet away and wait to see if the dog approaches you.  If the dog backs away, you stop approaching.  You're probably done here unless the dog changes its mind in the next few minutes.  Sitting down on the ground makes you look harmless and may help the dog change its mind.  Do not approach the dog while the dog is backing away.  For goodness sake do not corner the dog.  Remember, you loom over even the largest dog, which makes you potentially scary.

If the dog approaches you, you extend a hand.  If the dog shies away you are probably done here unless the dog changes its mind in the next few minutes.  Do not move toward the dog--that is threatening.  Hold still, and perhaps make encouraging noises, or withdraw the hand and look away but hold still. 

If the dog comes up and sniffs your hand or your ankles, slowly reach toward somewhere the dog considers impersonal.  Between the shoulderblades is a good one on a dog.  Just behind the head is good.  Don't start out by reaching for something personal like the belly--that is threatening.  Don't grab.  Let the dog see what you are doing; don't surprise it.  If it shies out from under your hand you are done here.  It doesn't want to be petted; accept the attention it will give and don't ask for more.

So, let's review.  Respecting a dog so you won't get hurt. 
  • Don't approach if it is moving away from you. 
  • Don't corner it. 
  • Don't surprise it.
  • Don't reach toward it if it is shying away. 
  • Don't continue to pet it if it tries to stop you.
The offending guy at ReaderCon?  Not only didn't manage to give his victim the respect you give another human being; he didn't even manage to give her the respect you give a stray dog.

And this is why some people are angry.  Because this kind of lack of very basic respect is pretty common--and asking for the same respect a stray dog gets really isn't asking for very much.

Date: 2012-08-04 04:42 pm (UTC)
pbristow: (_XI-sing)
From: [personal profile] pbristow
Well said.

Date: 2012-08-05 12:19 am (UTC)
elf: Many Americans have all the virtues of civilized people (American virtues)
From: [personal profile] elf
Well, stray dogs can be dangerous. Women attending conventions, not so much, right? I mean, if she doesn't like how he pays attention to her, what's she gonna do? Bite his hand?

Date: 2012-08-05 06:26 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Signal boosted.

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