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How to Correctly Approach a Dog That's Barking at You

I write about dogs. They are magnificent and deserve a good home!

This guide will tell you how to correctly approach a barking dog, including what to avoid doing.

This guide will tell you how to correctly approach a barking dog, including what to avoid doing.

Approaching a Barking Dog

We all know how difficult it is to greet a barking dog. Sometimes it's hard to tell if it's an aggressive dog barking at you or maybe just a dog trying to get your attention in order to say hello.

Knowing how to correctly approach a barking dog isn't always easy. In fact, it can be quite difficult and scary at times. But having the proper knowledge on how to rightfully greet a stranger’s dog (or your best friend's dog) can make a world of difference.

With a few key basic strategies and know-how, you'll be able to deal with any barking canine in no time. Now here's what you need to know.

It can be difficult to know how to approach a barking dog.

It can be difficult to know how to approach a barking dog.

What to Do If a Dog Barks at You

When a dog barks at you, here's what you should do.

Step 1: Approach Slowly

Slowly walk towards the barking dog, but also keep your distance. If he or she seems to be growing angry or aggressive, don't walk any closer. Give the dog some time, and try to read the dog's emotions thoroughly.

Remember: Sometimes it's best to let a dog come to you, instead of you coming to the dog. Many barking dogs will naturally keep their distance from you until he or she feels comfortable enough to see what "the new person" is all about.

Step 2: Step Closer and Avoid Eye Contact

If you feel safe to proceed in meeting distance with the canine, you may walk a little closer as a slight precaution. Do not look the dog in the eyes. Dogs can often take direct eye contact as a challenge and might even attempt to attack you, though usually they will only snap or threaten if that's the case. The safest thing to do is just to look down at the dog's paws and away from the face.

Keep in mind that if the dog seems rather neutral or hard to read, give the barking dog some time to rest. Eventually, it should become quite apparent how the dog feels about you.

Usually, when the dog stops barking or the dog barks grow quieter, this may mean the dog is no longer in excitement or threatened by your presence—just as long as the canine isn't growling of course.

Step 3: Extend Out Your Hand

If the canine seems friendly enough, you may now extend your hand out towards it from a respectable distance. Give the dog enough room to choose whether or not it wants to smell your hand. If the dog has no interest in further greetings, do not make it greet you. Keep your extended hand in a clenched like position, so that in case the canine does bite, it will not be able to bite off your fingers or truly injure your hand.

Step 4: Use a Gentle, Soft Tone When Talking to the Dog

Use a gentle voice when talking to a dog. Your soft tone of voice will let the dog know that you have no intentions of harming it or the owner.

Step 5: Wait for the Dog Calm Down

Before trying anything else, let the dog have a bit of time to calm down in case it hasn't already.

Step 6: If the Dog Won't Stop Barking, Leave It Be

If the dog proceeds to bark, and then just leave it be. If it's a dog that you know you will encounter again, then you can slowly build a relationship and trust with the dog over time.

Remember: Do not go near the dog or even pet a dog when it has its toys, bones, or any other possessions in its mouth. Some animals are overly protective of their belongings and, without prior notice, could snap or bite at any moment.

It's important that people do not pet new dogs or dogs in general when they're eating. Just like possessions, dogs can become particularly weary, angry, or dangerous when their food is being threatened.

A cute Boston terrier.

A cute Boston terrier.

Step 7: Don't Rush Anything

Don't rush things. If the dog wants to become friends with you, it will let you clearly know how it feels in time. If a dog is not entirely sure or seems nervous, it might be best to never even approach when the dog barks at all, but to let the canine greet you first.

Step 8: Be Careful

If all goes well, which it usually does, you'll have yourself a new pal in no time! Dogs are social animals, and they love people. Most dogs love all people, but from time to time, there is a bad pea in the pod. That's why you need to be careful. Just like you might feel a bit threatened, scared, or cautious with a canine, the dog is probably feeling the same way you do.

Why Do Dogs Bark?

Oftentimes, the reason why dogs bark at people and other dogs is simply because they want to summon their fellow pack members to engage in playtime with the newcomers.

As many of us know, however, dogs bark to get attention or because they are angry, frustrated, or feel threatened. There are honestly many explanations as to why dogs bark. It's just a matter of putting the animal's body language and the circumstances of why a dog is barking all into consideration so that you can correctly determine the dog's overall feelings and emotions towards you or anything else for that matter.

A pretty, blue-eyed husky.

A pretty, blue-eyed husky.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Krig on September 11, 2016:

Ya, what if the dog continues? I'm scared help

fraidy cat on July 04, 2016:

You never said what to do if the dog continues to bark without calming down. The assumption that the dog will eventually calm down, doesnt help all who are afraid of dogs. For instance, there are times when owners dont chain their dogs, and they start barking at you, what to do?

Samuel E. Richardson from Salt Lake City, Utah on October 11, 2013:

Nice hub, and glad to help.

Memories1932 on May 16, 2011:

What good advice! Our border collie is alright with people that have a dog with them but he is nervous of people who don't have a dog and he will bark at them if they try to approach him.I guess he only trust people that have dogs.