As man's best friend, dogs are recognized as being loyal, lovable and often we are positive they understand every word we say to them. But just like people, there are times when dogs may take awhile to come out of their shell, and warm up to a new acquaintance.
Meeting a new dog doesn't have to be confusing and it certainly doesn't have to make you or the dog feel on-edge. Here are a few ready-to-use tips about how dogs like to greet and get to know new people.
You wouldn't greet a brand new acquaintance like an familiar old friend -- so here are a few social protocols for meeting a new dog. Friends hug, but can you imagine greeting a perfect stranger like that? Similarly, reaching out immediately to pat a dog as a first introduction may be the same thing... too much, too soon.
Dogs are protective of their space and reaching your hand out for them right off the top can be viewed as a violation of their space. Best to keep your hands at your sides to begin with.
" Immediately reaching out to pat a dog, as a first introduction may be... too much, too soon. "
Similarly, eye-contact can be viewed as an act of aggression by dogs. When a pooch doesn't want any trouble you may see them look away, to let you know that. Looking directly into their eyes at introduction, like you would with a person, can put them on edge.
And as eager as you are to meet this new pooch-pal, it's best to remain relatively quiet at introduction. I'm guilty of this too, but we have a tendency to speak to dogs and puppies in a high-pitched voice like you might when talking to a baby. Dogs will often perceive this as a sign of weakness, which can bring out their aggressive side.
Most dogs when meeting a new person will give them a "welcome sniff". Sent is how dogs introduce themselves to each other, and is likely how a dog will expect to initially interact with new people. The key is to relax, be still, with your arms at your side and let them sniff away.
And finally, once the ice has been broken with a friendly, submissive dog consider coming down to their level. Towering over and looking down on a dog can be seen as an invasion of space. On the other hand, coming down to eye-level is often seen as a positive gesture most dogs.
Just like us, dogs have a process for meeting newcomers. These pointers can help keep people safe and preserve the dog's comfort. Get off on the right paw -- keep these tips top-of-mind and share them with your friends, kids and other family members.
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About the author: Tori is a lifetime pet lover who spends her days joyously caring for and engaging with her clients and their dogs and cats. She is the owner of Funk + Waggers, a south west Toronto, south Etobicoke and south Mississauga area based dog walking, puppy support, dog and cat sitting company. Her objective is to share with pet owners everywhere the importance of exercise, engagement, and leadership for raising happy, thriving, well adjusted pets.