Always approach a dog gently and let it sniff your hand before petting.
Yah, this only works if you don't have a fear of dogs.
I'm not sure when the fear started and why. I do remember being chased around by my Great Uncle Glenn's pocket sized something when I was around 5 years old. It was at their house in Boise and I was jumping on plastic covered furniture to get away from that yipping evil muppet.
Bad dog memory number 2 involved selling Girl Scout cookies door to door and a German Shepard attacking one of my green army partners.
So in my younger years it's very safe to say I had an uncomfortable relationship with the dogs I encountered. The kind ones knew this and try to comfort me and I thank them for that. I'd like to give a special shout out to Shelly Dunwoody's dog, Sandy, for this. I'm bumping it in with your little angel paw.
I worked on relaxing, and remaining calm and assertive (WAY before Cesar). And it worked. Mostly.
I had a set back about 5 years ago. I got bit twice in the same year and I felt horribly guilty that there was something wrong with me that those dogs chose me to bite.
Now I know those dogs were apeshit crazy.
The first one I surprised. I was running on a narrow road in the hills of Silverlake and ran past a car where a dog on the run from his family was hanging out and flirting with another dog through a fence. He came after me and bit my calf.
What the f**K?!
I was pissed. Seriously. You're going to come after me? Because you got scared? No, you better back that shit up.
I went after that little adorable shepard mix and it backed away still growling. For 30 seconds. As soon as I turned my back, it came after me again. I went after it. I was ready for a fight to the death. I would conquer it and it would live a life of fear of me until the end of its days.
It ran away and out of sight.
The second bite that year was actually from a dog so anxious, it generally wasn't allowed out of the bedroom when guests were in the house, and had a focused fear of women. I'll write that one off as it was totally unprovoked as it came from a loco dog that unfortunately shares my name.
I'd say now, at the age of 39, I'm much more comfortable with safe dogs. Safe as in I know their parents and know how to approach them because of this. I'm comforted by the fact that I'm learning how to not fear The Dog but to enjoy The Dog because they're seriously awesome. I had no idea.
But that tiny Jack Russell that chased me down a trail at Forest Park last week? You better watch your back. I will conquer.