Dogs are so cute! Every time I see one I say aloud, “ohhhhh cuuuuute puppyyyyy!” I can’t help it. But what I can help is how I greet and interact with every “cute puppy” I meet.
Have you ever had someone come up to you and invade your personal bubble? Speaking inches from your face, talking loudly, carrying an unpleasant scent, maybe even touching your arm without permission? Dogs deal with this invasiveness on the reg, and if they decide to say “hey I don’t like that, please step back” they often get into trouble for showing “aggression”.
Here are some tips on how to approach and greet a dog. And if all else fails, simply don’t greet the dog! Easy as that!
- Don’t assume every dog is a people dog. As mother always says, “ask before petting a dog.”
- When greeting a dog, avoid direct eye contact so you don’t seem threatening.
- All greetings must be on the dog’s terms. Start by ignoring the dog and allowing them to come sniff you first. Don’t make sudden movements and watch the dog’s body language. Sticking your hand in a dog’s face can result in a bite. Do not approach a dog that retreats from you, that is not what he wants.
- Even if it is obvious that a dog is happy and wants pets, do not lean over him. This is an aggressive posture to a dog. Avoid petting the dog’s head, instead stroke the shoulders or chest. If the dog seems interested and happy to see you, you can kneel down to the dog’s level to interact.
- After 30 seconds or so you should have a better idea of whether or not the dog is interested in your attention.
- Yellow accessories have been a useful tool in letting people know if a dog is sensitive to attention or not. If you see a dog in a yellow bandana, or adorned with a yellow bow, this usually means the dog does not enjoy being rushed by other dogs or humans. It’s best to just ignore them, even if they come to inspect you.
“As humans, we tend to assume that dogs will understand our intentions and our words but unfortunately that is not the case. Our means of communication differ so greatly from that of dogs. Seeing things from the dog’s perspective, respecting and understanding canine behavior, and reading body language cues while greeting a dog will allow you to limit the risk of exposing a dog to a negative experience as well as injury to yourself or others.” –Sylvia Wilson