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When you’re out on the town and see a pretty pooch pounding the pavement, you might be compelled to run over to it as fast as you can, get on your hands and knees, and bark at it as aggressively as possible. This, however, isn’t always the best way to approach a strange dog. In fact, it never is. So if you’re tired of being bitten in the face, but are still interested in becoming a pup’s pal, follow these steps.
 

Step 1: Evaluate the Owner

A mean owner will likely have a mean dog, a nice owner will likely have a nice dog, and an unattended dog will likely have a poker game that it’s late for. High art jokes aside though, an unattended dog will attack you. That, or instantly click with you and be a best friend for life. It’s a risk, but that didn’t stop a grown man from painting pictures of dogs playing poker.
 

Step 2: Engage the Owner 

People with dogs are people too. People who want to be acknowledged, even if it’s an empty gesture, just like the rest of us. Ask a couple of questions about them, then move on to the dog and forget everything they ever told you before “Sure, you can pet my dog.” It’s not like there’s a quiz at the end. If there is, you’re on a prank show. Prepare to meet Howie Mandel--your fifteen minutes of fame start now.
 

Step 3: Ask for Permission 

When you assume, you make an ass out of the University of Maine. Go Black Bears! A dog and its owner may seem nice, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t pet the pup. The only way to know is to ask and that also saves you from an awkward silence.

Step 4: Put Your Hand on the Dog and Move it Around a Bunch

Pat their head, scratch behind their ears, rub their belly. Congratulations, you’re petting a dog. It’s really a lot like playing jazz, if you think about it. There’s no set structure to it and it’s fun to do. As long as you don’t say anything like that to the owner, you should be able to continue petting the dog for an upwards of thirty seconds. Anything more than that is annoying and makes you look insane--like playing jazz!
 

Step 5: Move On

There are plenty of dogs in the sea, and substantially more on land. Don’t let yourself get hung up on one hound. When God closes a door, there’s still a little door at the bottom that a dog can go in and out of. Keep a keen eye for canines and it won’t be long before you’re petting a dog again. If that’s not soon enough, volunteer at your local animal shelter or walk into an airport with a salami casing full of cocaine in your slacks.
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