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A Close Encounter was my attempt at showing you a glimpse of what would be a good way to behave when confronted by a strange dog. I may not be successful at training a dog, but I’ve watched enough television, read a lot and been around dogs long enough to understand a little of how they think.

Dogs do not have near the amount of intelligence that we do. But still, do not underestimate them. Their simple way of thinking can often help them outsmart us  by thinking of something that would never occur to us, just by pure simplicity.

If you are thinking of getting a dog, ask yourself if you have the time and patience to look after a small child. In essence, that is what a dog is. It plays like a child, seeks stimulation like a child and, end of the day, wants safety, security and food, like a child.

Security and food. To me, those are two fundamental elements in understanding a dog’s behaviour. If attacked, ask yourself, was it feeling threatened and unsafe, or was it guarding a food source. Possibly, it was protecting its young. Or, another probable cause is injury, which again boils down to the dog feeling secure. It is insecure, and thus defensive.

So, you are walking down the road and suddenly find a dog in front of you. You don’t know where it has come from or whether it is friendly. Just stop and take a moment to assess the situation. Are you in an open area where the dog can get away easily, or are you blocking its exit? How is the dog behaving? Is its tail down? Does it wag its tail? Does it growl?

If the dog has its ears up and sort of wags its tail, then you should be fairly safe. Do not let your guard down, though, since you do not know what could cause the dog to possibly attack. If the ears are laid back, with the tail down, then be careful. Look for potential sources of aggression. Do not run and do not approach the dog. It is best to stay calm and either back off, to call for help, if you feel help is needed, or allow the dog to approach you.

Food always helps to gain a dog’s trust. But again, be careful. Do not try handle the food while it is eating. You may be able to do this with your own dog at home, but you have no idea how this strange dog will react.

This all seems to be a bit much to take in. What should you remember? Stay calm. Do not make the dog feel scared. Either let the dog go its own way, or call for help, if needed. Patience is always key.