Safe interactions with dogs

Dogs can be a wonderful and rewarding addition to any family, providing many years of companionship.

If you own a dog, you are responsible for how it behaves at home and in public.  You should always take steps to ensure that interactions with other dogs and people, particularly children, are safe.

Understanding dog behaviour

A dog’s body language can tell an owner about how that dog is feeling:

  • If your dog walks away, it might want to have some alone time or some rest.
  • If your dog is doing any of the following, it might need space immediately:
    • crouching and growling with ears back and tail under
    • becoming tense, leaning forward, placing tail outwards/up, staring, snarling, growling
    • rolling onto side or back, tail tucked, ears back, tense, one or both back legs raised
  • If your dog is doing any of the following, it might be stressed:
    • leaning away whilst lip-licking
    • yawning (unrelated to tiredness), leaning away
    • ears back, lip-licking (unrelated to expectation of food)
    • pausing with ears back, tail lowered, paw lifted
    • leaning back with tail tucked, ears back
    • lowered body posture, tail tucked
    • approaching with low, wagging tail and ears back
    • teeth exposed in ‘smile’ shape, ears back, eyes squinted/ shut tightly
    • panting, pacing

Further information and resources on safe interactions with dogs and on understanding dog body language are available on the Dogs Trust and RSPCA website.

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