Politely Greeting a Dog
As a dog lover, it’s hard to resist a furry face. The moment I see a dog or puppy, I suddenly stop in my tracks and grin from ear to ear. As I adore the dog from afar, I fight the urge to run up and pet the darling. Yes, my dog trainer self steps in and immediately reminds my dog lover side that not all dogs like to greet people and other dogs. So, I smile and walk away. It’s the best thing for the dog.
Within the dog world, polite greetings have recently changed. Instead of approaching a dog, and holding out your closed fist for a sniff, there’s a safer way to greet a dog for the first time. Not only is this greeting safer for people, but it’s also much safer for and more respectful to dogs.
What’s the Big Deal About Petting Dogs?
Many dogs strongly dislike greeting strangers; it’s just their personality. When people greet dogs, they walk straight over and start petting them. While some dogs love greetings, many dogs find greetings uncomfortable due to unwanted physical contact.
Many fearful dogs try backing away, but their leash prevents them from moving, so dogs learn to bite to stop greetings. Think about it this way: Would you be comfortable having complete strangers walk over and pat your head? That’s exactly how some dogs feel, so respect their personal space.
When Greeting a Dog for the First Time
When you see a darling dog, stand still and don’t make eye contact with the dog. Look over at the pet owner and ask if you can pet her dog. Pet owners who listen to their dog’s choices will promptly let admirers know their dog is not comfortable with greetings.
The pet owner may say “My dog is not friendly” or “He will jump on you.” If that’s the case, respect the pet owner’s decision to not allow greetings. Trying to convince a pet owner that you’re a dog wizard will only make the situation awkward. Just say, “Your dog is gorgeous, and I admire you for standing by your dog’s choices.”
Let the Dog Choose to Greet
If a pet owner agrees to let her dog meet you, it’s important to ask the dog first. Let the dog make the first move while you stand still. If a dog moves toward you, let the dog walk toward you and sniff your legs and shoes. Don’t bend over and pet the dog; instead bend down and let the dog greet you first.
When petting a dog, rub his chest slowly and ask the pet owner if you can give her dog a treat. Slowly stand back up, while chatting with the pet owner, and let the dog continue to sniff you.
If the dog chooses to ignore or walk away from you, respect the dog’s decision. Just say, “It’s okay, I can adore you from over here.” Forcing close physical contact will only frighten the dog even more, and he will learn humans are unpredictable. Just stand still and make light of the situation, and know you taught a fearful dog that people can be trusted. 🙂
As dog lovers, it’s so important to make good impressions, especially to all dogs.