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Have you ever had a dog jump in your face unexpectedly?

It might be cute to see how high a dog can jump up in excitement to greet you or to jump up to show off their talents and skills, however, a dog jumping up into your face when you’re not expecting it is not a lot of fun!

Not only is it not a lot of fun, but it can also potentially cause pain and/or injury to the recipient of the unexpected collision and the dog itself.

I spend a lot of time with dogs as a pet sitter/dog walker and over the years I’ve had a variety of experiences that have been wonderful. The odd time there are some unexpected experiences that I’d rather not repeat and that includes having a dog jump in my face.

Typically, it isn’t the fault of the dog. They can be over stimulated, excited, or just anxious. It could just be that things happened quickly and unexpectedly as circumstances unfolded. That’s the reason accidents are called accidents. They’re not meant to happen on purpose.

It may not be the dog’s fault because they didn’t intentionally set out to harm anyone, it is the responsibility of the dog(s) owner to be aware of the dog’s potential behavior and share that information with new people they encounter.

An excited dog jumping into someone’s face, especially when they’re not expecting it can cause some serious consequences for the person who is on the receiving end of it and for the dog as well.

Recently while meeting a new dog and its owner the dog suddenly and abruptly jumped up into my face.

This dog has aggression and anxiety issues because of a bad experience in the past with other dogs. He’d been out of her vehicle for quite some time, and we’d taken him for a walk together so I could observe his behavior and mannerisms to become familiar with him.

He was high strung during the walk even though he’d had plenty of time to settle down.

After we walked together for a while, we were standing with a distance between us and chatting about the pup in general.

While he was sitting, I leaned over to pet him and before I knew it he was in my face and startled me as I had no way to anticipate this was going to be his reaction.

Immediately I said to him “OFF” as firmly as I could. I’m grateful for my quick reflexes. Fortunately, I didn’t sustain an injury, just minor pain and discomfort that was short lasting.

His owner giggled and shared the reason he did that is because she reaches over his face and allows him to jump up to kiss her on her lips. She thinks it’s cute and considers it a sign of affection.

She hadn’t mentioned he tended to jump up onto people if they leaned down towards him.

Had she shared this information I would have been much more prepared to know what to expect and then I could have made a decision that may have changed the way I reached down to pet him. I may have chosen not to pet him at all. The importance of our time together was for me to get a sense of what he was like and what techniques she used to manage his aggression and anxiety around other people and other dogs.

With life we certainly can’t always predict everything that is going to happen to us day to day and sometimes even moment to moment.

We can only do our best to focus on how we manage, cope, react or respond to various situations as they arise.

What came to mind for me in that moment was how easily someone else may have gotten unintentionally hurt because of the dog jumping up into my face.

Had it been an elderly person or a young child the outcome could have been vastly different.

It could have been a person with a physical disability that has some balance issues with walking or slower reflexes because of the way their body works. An elderly person could perhaps have been using a walker, a cane, or in a wheelchair. For a young child who is curious about dogs this could have resulted in their first bad experience with dogs that could have scared them for a long time to come.

Each of us has different perspectives, points of view and different levels of mindfulness and being present in the moment to pay attention to what’s unfolding.

We come into situations with a certain level of innate trust and an expectation that things will go well.

If your dog does tend to jump up into your face for one reason or another it would serve situations in which he/she is meeting new people to be mindful of managing your dog, so it doesn’t happen unexpectedly. Advise the other person that the dog may or may not jump up in their face and the reason why. That will give the other person the information they need to decide how close they do or don’t want to stand next to your pup and they’ll also be prepared to respond in an appropriate and timely manner should the dog jump up.

Ultimately it creates a win-win-win situation. No one is offended, surprised, taken off guard, potentially hurt and everyone can walk away with a good experience. No one feels bad. And ultimately no one likes having anyone in their face whether it’s a dog or another person.

We all just want to enjoy the moments of the day as they unfold.

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