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It's can be so easy to approach that friendly looking dog outside the coffee shop. His friendly tail is wagging and he just looks so sweet. Before you act, remember that when approaching an unfamiliar dog to pet him, make sure you've got the owner's permission. Then allow the dog to sniff you, and reach out slowly and pet the dog's body. A common mistake that most people make is automatically trying to pat a dog that you do not know on the head. This is actually a sign of dominance, and some dogs may not react kindly to the gesture.