What to do when you meet an unfamiliar dog

Many dogs will be friendly towards unfamiliar people and will not show any signs of aggression when approached, but there may be some who will behave aggressively if someone approaches too closely. 

Why are dogs aggressive?

Dogs are aggressive in response to unfolding events and it always depends on what they believe is happening to them. When dogs use aggression it is almost always because they think that they are under some form of threat. For example, the threat could be to their personal safety, to take away something or someone they value highly, or they may feel their territory is threatened.

Being able to recognise the signs of aggression and knowing how to behave around dogs that show these behaviours can help you make them feel less threatened and reduce the chance of aggression towards you. For more information see
What to do when you meet an unfamiliar dog (pdf 1.15 MB).

The leaflet is based on the RSPCA¿s dog aggression FAQs with information provided by David Ryan, Chairman of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors. The advice offered in these FAQs is recognised by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Accreditation Committee as reflecting what is accepted as good practice by those working in the field of clinical behaviour in companion animals.

See our canine aggression FAQs for more information about dog aggression.

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