It’s really important that we teach our children (and ourselves) how to correctly meet a new dog. It’s fun for kids to meet new dogs, but it’s not always fun for dogs to meet new people. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Approach slowly and relaxed (don’t run-up to the dog). Stop well before you get to where the dog can reach you.
- Always ask if it is okay to pet first (never pet without asking).
- Divert your gaze to their body and approach sideways (don’t stare at the dog or stand over top of the dog).
- It’s okay to get down low if the dog is small (squat, do not sit, do not get in the dog’s face).
- Let them come to you and offer a fist (avoid moving into the dog’s space and don’t offer fingers).
- See how the dog is responding to you and look for a loose body, a wagging tail, and an interest to interact (signs the dog may not want to be pet – pinning ears back, moving away from you, hiding behind the owner, barking or growling, tense body, tail tucked)
- Start under the chin – not to be confused with the neck – and avoid going over the top of their head initially which can impede their vision of their surroundings and be uncomfortable at first
Don’t approach the dog if:
- The dog is avoiding you or backing away
- The dog is growling or showing other signs of fear
- The dog is tense on the leash whether being friendly and excited or not
- The dog is in a vehicle or other confined space
Stop petting if the dog moves away to gain some space, allow them to get comfortable with you on their own terms, and to move away and come back as they feel comfortable.
Get to know new dogs on their terms for the best chance at making friends with them
How to Greet a Dog and What to Avoid Booklet by Sophia Yin: https://amzn.to/3gDoQBF