One of the inevitable and enjoyable parts of my job is visiting other people's pets. Whether I'm previewing a home or going on a listing presentation or doorknock, I enjoy the opportunity to interact with all of the furry friends along the way. One of the best ways for me to interact with a pet owner is through their pet so I try to befriend the resident cat or dog just as much I try to befriend their human.
Dogs are usually very friendly. I make decisions on making contact based upon breed and temperament. Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers are among the teddy bears of the dog world. They are usually good natured and very, very big. The way they are most likely to harm you is to knock you over by throwing their weight at you. Certain breeds like Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers look fearsome and have bad press mostly from scary movies with no basis in fact. Some of these dogs are dangerous, but some are also, like the retrievers, very gentle and approachable. It depends upon how they were raised.
All animals, be they dog or cat, should be approached carefully and respectfully. Addressing them in a friendly voice, I always put a hand out to be sniffed first. Since their eyesight isn't as good as ours, smell is the most important thing. I gently extend my hand slowly to let them get a good sniff. It usually takes a while as they then pick up the scent of my cats, who rubbed it in pretty good, then reach to give them a pet on their cheek or the top of their head.
Barky dogs are actually the most likely to bite and they are usually the little breeds. Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Jack Russell Terriers are all really excitable breeds and, if they aren't well-disciplined, may take a nip at you. Most of the time, it won't really hurt but you should always be a little bit careful when approaching them. If they start barking backwards, when they bark, step back, and bark some more, they really don't feel comfortable yet. I usually ignore them at that point and interact with the humans for a while. Some will quiet down and come back to make friends. Others continue barking and must be put in another room.
Be considerate of cats. Nearly every cat's motto is "Change is Bad" and most react to a stranger by scooting under the bed or around the corner. The brave ones will peek out from a safe place and watch you interact with their human. Pretend you don't see them. This is counter-intuitive, especially when they gradually become more visible. I always resist the urge to say hi to any kitty until they actually walk up to me since it makes them feel more in control of the situation.
If the sign or the agent comments say to beware of a runaway cat, I enter with caution, entering with my knee first, to block the cat from making a dash for the door. My former office had a policy of caravanning with so many agents around, the cat got out. If this happens, it is best to get in front of the cat and scoop them up before they know what's happened. My fellow agent was approaching it from the sheep herding perspective so she would have had quite the long trip before she caught up with kitty.
If you can develop confidence in working with people's pets, you may receive the unexpected reward of new friends both human and furry as you conduct your business.