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What the dog is trying to say: How to say hello

9:49 PM, Feb 20, 2012   |    comments
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DENVER - 9NEWS morning anchor Kyle Dyer had her second surgery on Monday after a dog bit her in the face on live television. The surgery went well, just as the doctor hoped. She has 20 new stitches and she had the 70 stitches from the surgery on the day of the accident, Feb. 8, removed. 

Next week, doctors may be able to take out all remaining stitches but they will just have to see how she is doing. She seems to be healing well and continues to be the positive Kyle we all know. At this time, there are no new surgeries planned but that could change as doctors see how her recovery moves along.

As a result of Kyle's injuries, all this week we are going to air a special series on canine behavior on 9NEWS at 9 and 10 p.m.

Monday night, we're focusing on the best ways for humans to interact with dogs, whether it's their own or an unfamiliar dog.

We worked on this series with Dr. Suzanne Hetts, who is an animal behavior expert with decades of experience. She currently runs the Behavior Education Network out of Littleton.

"We think of them [dogs] as us," Hetts said.

For starters, Hetts says even though our dogs are a part of our family it's important to remember they are dogs and they're not humans. Therefore, we shouldn't treat them like humans.

Hetts says when most people greet unfamiliar dogs they try to place their hands over the dog's head to pet them and then say something along the lines of 'Hi puppy, how are you?'

Hetts says that's a big no-no. She says facing a dog, leaning over them and reaching over their heads comes across as intimidating.

"The better approach is to make sure the side of your body is towards the dog, stand up straight or bend at the knees," Hetts said.

From there, Hetts says you should hold your hand out to see if the dog will approach you. If it doesn't, that means the dog doesn't want to interact.

"Then just go, 'Hey kiddo, how are you doing?' And you keep your distance. But if she comes up to you, you can scratch the bottom of the neck under the chin," Hetts said.

Remember, not over the head. Instead, reach under the bottom of the neck or under the chin.

"That's much less intimidating for the dog," Hetts said.

She also says if you don't know the dog, never ever put your face in front of it. However, if you know the dog and you have a comfortable understanding with it, then it's your decision to make.

Hetts says she kisses her dog all the time, only because they know each other really well.

Hetts says there 10 important tips everyone should follow:

1) Let the dog come to you
2) Keep your hands near your side
3) Avoid eye contact
4) Avoid facing the dog - turn the side of your body to the dog
5) Stand up straight or sit on floor - don't lean over the dog
6) Keep your face away from the dog's face
7) No hugging or kissing unless you know the dog VERY well
8) Pet under the chin
9) Limit speaking to the dog
10) Always watch the dog's body language.

Tuesday night, we will focus on dogs interacting with babies and children.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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