Avoid dogs that are sleeping or eating, as you may startle them and cause them to respond negatively. Hugging an unfamiliar dog is also ill-advised. In dog world, hugging is a dominant expression. Although you may relish hugging your own dog, it undoubtedly enjoys it less than you do. While your own pet may tolerate your innocent hugs, in an unfamiliar or shy dog, they may warrant an unwanted reaction.
Dogs, like people, are complex products of genetics, upbringing, training, and experiences. While some breeds may demonstrate traits such as shyness or extroversion more frequently, generalizations are tricky. You can never fully judge an unknown animal by its furry cover and it is always best to be cautious.
What if the shy, aggressive dog in question belongs to you? Remember that dogs, like children, have inborn personalities that can be influenced to a certain extent, but not changed.
Dogs are masters at interpreting our facial expressions, body language, and vocal inflections. Your dog may sense your uncertainty and discomfort and become anxious. If your pet is displaying aggression, fear, or any other troublesome tendencies, consult your veterinarian.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.