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How to Meet a Dog for the First Time
Whether you’re a veteran dog owner or if you’re just starting out, it’s never a bad idea to get familiar with the proper ways to greet dogs.
From people who don’t own dogs to parents looking to introduce their kids to dogs, from dog owners who want to know how to interact with dogs to those who just want to learn more about them, we’re all wondering the right way of acting when we meet a dog.
Let’s break it down into steps.
Mistakes People Make When Greeting A Dog
When meeting for the first time, there are a number of offenses that well-intentioned people commit against unsuspecting dogs. Who can honestly say that they’ve never committed any of these offenses?
1. Neglect to ask the dog owner for permission to meet their dogs.
2. Reach over the dog’s head and pat, pat pat.
3. Put your face close to the dog‘s face and coo “Oh, you’re sooo cute.”
4. Approach the dog directly, without looking away from him, and make high-pitched vocal sounds.
5. See a cute little dog and walk up to him or her to pet him or her on the head.
6. Approach a dog by looking directly into its eyes and as you get closer, clap your hands or click your fingers right in front of the dog’s eyes.
7. Notice a sweet dog lying down, crouching over at the waist, slowly slinking towards the dog with your arm extended.
8. Believe that because you love dogs so much, all dogs love you just as much and that you don’t need to follow the rules that ordinary people should observe.
Over time, I’ve committed some of these infractions… and I’ve been lucky. All of those situations could have been disastrous for me and, even worse, for the poor unsuspecting puppy.
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Do: Let the dog approach you
When meeting a dog for the first time, it’s best to be calm and go slowly. Your first instinct may well be to run towards the barking dog with open arms, however, not so fast! Approach a dog in this way and it might startle him/her. It could also come across as intimidating. Instead, let the dog approach you naturally, and don’t force him to come to you. You don’t want to come across as fearful, but as this may lead the dog to become defensive. When meeting a new dog for the first time, be careful, but confident.
Do: Let the dog sniff you
To introduce yourself to a new dog, you need to understand its instincts. Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell. They use smell to understand, and make judgments about, their environment. A dog can quickly get a sense of another dog’s gender, health, and past experiences by sniffing their face. A dog can tell if someone has a dog of their very own by sniffing them. They can also tell where in the neighborhood that person lives and more. They can also detect a person’s scent to jog their memory of whether and when they‘ve met before! Don’t extend your hand to a dog’s face. Instead, allow the dog to approach you and sniff your hands on its own terms.
Don’t: Pet him on the head
Always be careful when approaching a dog for the first time. Petting on the back can be threatening for dogs, especially when the person who is petting them is a total stranger. Rather than reaching for her head immediately, start by petting her gently on her back or shoulder. After that, you can work your away from their face if they’re comfortable with it.
Do: Pay attention to body language
Like humans, dogs communicate through nonverbal means, such as body language. When it comes to interpreting dog body language, here are some tips. If you see them wag their tails, circle around you and act excitedly when you approach them, then they’re probably friendly. Bowing down with the front legs extended is a sign that says “Play!”. Be aware of any signs that might indicate an aggressive or threatening attitude, like showing teeth or having a stiff, erect tail It’s important to remember that all dogs respond differently to stress. Some people may feel uncomfortable or anxious when they lick their lips or yawn. This is considered normal behaviour for a dog who has been placed in an unfamiliar or stressful situation.
Do: Use a calm, low voice when meeting a dog
It’s not uncommon for people to use ‘baby talk’ when first meeting a dog, but the correct way to interact with a dog is to speak normally. Keep it cool and low. Dogs can pick up on our emotions. If we use a high-pitched voice when stressed, they may interpret it as a sign of weakness. Start building your relationship by showing confidence and respect for any dog you meet.
How To Greet A Strange Dog Politely
What’s the best way to greet dogs? Ask the owner of the dog if you can greet their dog. If they tell you “no,” understand that they’ve made the decision that is best for their pet, and don’t get upset. Assuming they say yes to your offer, follow these steps:
1. Don’t approach the dog. Pretend you don’t see her and let the dog approach you if she’s comfortable and interested.
2. Look away. Sustained eye contact signals aggressiveness in most Western cultures, whereas it signals trustworthiness in the dog world.
3. Either stand straight or squat, don’t crouch over the dog, but don’t lean back either.
4. Keep your body loose and relaxed If you put on an easy smile or blink your eyes slowly, you’ll signal to the dog that he’s not a threat.
5. Turn your body so you’re not facing the dog. Being face-to-face with someone is considered polite human behavior. However, if you’re not careful, it can signal aggressive intentions toward a dog.
6. If you speak, use a calming, reassuring tone.
7. If the dog shows interest by sniffs you with a relaxed posture and an easy tail wag, and if it looks at you with soft eyes and seems interested in you, then you can slowly extend your hand towards the dog.
8. If the dog wants to, let her sniff your hand, and then gently pet her shoulder, neck, or chest. Don’t pet the top of her head.
9. Dogs will clearly let you know when they want more interaction or when they’re done interacting with you. Show respect for her wishes.
10. For dogs who are deaf or who are blind, be careful not to make sudden movements.
11. If at any point during the interaction, the dog backs away, then stop what you’re doing.
Passing the Sniff Test
When you greet a person, remember to watch their body language. Being able to keep your emotions under control and respect the dog’s cues will make the interaction a pleasant one for you both. Any other tips for greeting dogs?