| Michaela Fisher

Greeting New Dogs

Saying hello to a dog...seems like an obvious thing right? However, not all dogs are friendly, and even a dog that likes new people may be upset if you introduce yourself rudely in their eyes. Dogs are very attuned to body language, and we as humans can increase the odds of having a positive interaction with a dog we do not know by taking care to speak dog body language too! So read on for some do's and don'ts when greeting a new dog.

Dog Greeting Do's

  • Do let the dog come to you. Let the dog make the decision to say hello, and not the other way around!
  • Do remain calm and keep your arms at your sides. You can also turn your body partially away from the dog to seem less intimidating.
  • Do pet when the dog seems friendly (if you want to). Signs of a relaxed and friendly dog include a dog willingly approaching you, showing soft and wiggly body language, and leaning into you. Start by petting under the chin or along the back rather than going for the top of the head! When people pet the tops of dog's heads it can seem threatening as you loom over them and reach for their face.
  • Do stop petting. Pet the dog for a couple of seconds and then stop. Does the dog lean back into you, wag their tail and have a nice loose body? Then they want to be pet more! By taking breaks you give this stranger dog a chance to walk away if they get over stimulated.

Dog Greeting Don'ts 

  • Don't pet or interact with a dog without the owner's permission. Some dogs may be reactive to people, and you reaching out and trying to pet that dog could put you, the dog, and the owner in an unsafe situation.
  • Don't give direct eye contact. With dogs, staring can be a sign of aggression. You are better off looking at the ground or away from the dog, this way they know you aren't a threat!
  • Don't yell or move quickly as this can scare the dog.
  • Don't attempt to hug the dog. Most dogs do not want to be hugged. You are effectively trapping them, and this can cause the dog to panic, which may result in them trying to flee or even biting you!

At the end of the day we love dogs, and we want dogs to love us. By following these tips we make ourselves better listeners to our dog's body language and create more positive interactions between our canine companions and people.