Not all dogs want to be approached by strangers. If you’ve ever said, “It’s okay … I’m a human dog!” In response to the owner’s warning that their dog prefers to be left alone, this article is for you.
When we traveled with Ty and Buster, we were often approached by people who wanted to meet the dogs. When I told them that Ty was afraid of strangers and preferred to be admired from afar, we often heard, “No problem, I’m a dog man!” Then the man would ignore Ty’s body language and forget the whole label on how to greet the dog.
Even people with the best intentions make mistakes when greeting dogs they don’t know. Keep these tips in mind and you will probably have many more hairy friends.
Mistakes people make when greeting a dog
There are numerous crimes that well-meaning people commit against unsuspecting dogs when they first meet. Who can honestly say that he was never guilty of one of these violations?
1. Neglect to ask permission from the dog’s face to meet his dog.
2. Reach on the dog’s head and pat, pat, pat.
3. Place your face close to the dog’s face and yell, “Oh, you’re so cute.”
4. Find the dog you want to meet, make direct, unblinking eye contact, and quickly approach the dog by making loud voices.
5. See an irresistible tuft of fur and go to the dog to enthusiastically rub his cute little ball.
6. Approach a dog by looking directly at it, and as you approach with outstretched arms, clap your hands or snap your fingers directly into the dog’s face.
7. Notice a cute dog lying down, squat to your waist and slowly slide towards the dog with your arm outstretched.
8. Believe that because you love dogs, all dogs love you too, and that you can give up the formalities that ordinary people have to follow.
I was guilty of several of these violations … and I was lucky. Each of these situations could end badly for me and even more tragic for the bad unsuspecting puppy.
How would you feel?
To find out how this behavior can upset the dog, ask a partner to help you. Ask your partner to wait until you completely forget this conversation, then look you in the eye as he approaches, quickly run your hand past your eyes, over your forehead, and pat, pat, pat. (Keep trying!)
If you have a hidden partner, you will probably bend over, twist your face in disgust, and pull away from his reach. If he’s really good, he’ll keep staring, smiling and screaming how cute you are, and then he’ll pat you, pat you, pat you again.
I guess you will suffer again and go further. You will probably feel bored and possibly angry – and you know this person. Imagine if you didn’t!
Respect dog customs
Unfortunately, our dogs are often subjected to such inappropriate greetings. And then they quarrel if they react less than enthusiastically!
Dogs have their own language and protocols for meeting strangers (dogs and people) and if you really are a dog, you will respect their preferences. After all, we do not go to foreign countries and expect locals to adhere to our cultural norms. It is not fair that the full burden of navigating life with another species falls entirely on our dogs.
READ MORE ⇒ Tips for taking your pet on a field trip
How to greet a strange dog politely
So, what is the best way to greet a dog? Start by asking the dog’s man for permission to greet his dog. If they say no, understand that they are only doing what they think is best for the pet, and don’t take it personally. Assuming they say yes, follow these steps:
1. Keep the dog away. Pretend to ignore her and allow the dog to approach you if she is comfortable and interested.
2. Avert your eyes. Prolonged eye contact signals trust in most Western cultures, but in the canine world it signals aggression.
3. Either stand up or squat, but do not squat over the dog.
4. Keep your body relaxed and relaxed. Putting on a simple smile or a slow blink of the eyelids will signal to the dog that you are not a threat.
5. Turn your body so that you are not facing the dog. Again, being face to face is considered polite human behavior, but can signal a dog’s aggressive intentions.
6. If you speak, use a calm, soothing tone.
7. If the dog shows interest by sniffing you with a calm posture, slight wagging of the tail (not all wagging is friendly) and perhaps looking at you with soft eyes, then you can slowly offer your dog your hand for investigation.
8. Let the dog sniff your hand if he wants, and then gently stroke the dog’s shoulder, neck or chest – not the top of the head.
9. The dog will clearly let you know if he wants more interaction or is done with you. Respect her wishes.
10. For dogs that are deaf or blind, be careful not to make sudden movements that could startle them.
11. If the dog pulls away at any time during the interaction, stop what you are doing.
Pass the sniff test
When greeting a dog, be sure to observe his body language. Keeping your emotions under control and respecting the dog’s signals will make the interaction a good experience for both of you. Do you have other tips for greeting dogs?
About the author: Deborah Flick is a pet lover who shares her life with Sadie, a shy and scary standard poodle. She is currently working for a degree at Sadie’s School for Unhappy People.
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