How You Should Greet a Dog

If you're meeting a new dog, you might be wondering: How can I greet him?

After all, dogs, just like humans, like having their own personal space, and just like with people, you want to respect a dog's space.

Even if the dog is usually gentle and non-aggressive, it is your responsibility as the person in this equation to make sure you don't scare him, because, as you know, accidents are quick to happen.

This is why you have to make sure to greet a dog THE right way.

What do we mean by that?

Tune in now to find out! 

Greeting a Dog – The Dos and Don’ts

[Image quote: "A dog that doesn't want pets now might want them in 20 minutes."]

This is one of my favorite topics to discuss, because I personally think a lot of people don’t know how to greet a dog properly. And this means that when things go wrong, probably 9 out of 10 times it could have been prevented

When we normally hear about it, it’s from owners who may have dogs that are nervous around people, or owners of overly-friendly dogs. 

So, either way, when you’re greeting a dog, you have to keep in mind who that dog is and how to make him comfortable. Here’s how you can do it:

Ask For Permission

The best thing to do when you want to greet a dog is ask their owner if you can pet him. It doesn’t cost anything to say: “Can I pet your dog?” and it’ll save you a headache. 

This gives the dog owner the opportunity to have control over the situation. If their dog is friendly, they’ll let you do it, and if he isn’t, they’ll say no, and no one gets hurt or scared.

But… all dog owners know if their dog is friendly? Do all owners know what their dog’s body language is saying? No! Which is why you need to be able to read a dog’s body language. Your dog. Your friend’s dog. All dogs. So that you can be aware of the times when a person is saying “Yes you can pet my dog!” but the dog is saying “Don’t even think about it!”

Follow the 5-Second Rule

[Image quote: "Always ask!"]

The 5-second rule is a great tip to teach everyone, especially children. If you’re going to say hello to a dog you don’t know very well (after you’ve asked for permission, of course), the first thing you should do is stand there and let the dog approach you. 

When that happens and you go to pet the dog, simply pet him for five seconds and then take your hand off and see what the dog does. If the dog approaches you and starts nuzzling into you, then he’s making it very clear that he wants more pets, so pet him for five more seconds and then take your hand off.

But if after the five second pet, the dog looks the other way or is simply neutral, then that tells you he doesn’t want any more pets. If the dog moves away, then he definitely doesn’t want you petting him. 

Don’t Bend Over

I personally don’t want people bending over my dog. This is because a lot of dogs can feel intimidated by that, or, go the opposite way, and get so excited they headbutt you in the face and give you a bloody nose while trying to reach you. An overjoyed dog can injure you just as much as an aggressive one. 

Let the Dog Sniff Your Hand - But Not In His Face!

When you’re greeting a dog you don’t know, make sure to lower your hand at your side so he can have a sniff. However, don’t reach your hand out into the dog’s face and invade his personal space. Instead, keep it next to you and let the dog come to you. 

Also, keep in mind that just because a dog sniffed your hand, doesn’t mean that he wants you to pet him. You can let the dog sniff your hand a bit longer, and then, if he’s sticking around and giving you signs that he’d like more, you can give him a gentle pat on the side of his neck. Don’t use big movements that would scare the dog.

Don’t Squeeze or Hug a Dog You Don’t Know

[Image quote: "Don't pet dogs over the top of the head!"]

Dogs don’t squeeze or hug each other, so take a page from their book, and keep the hugging at a minimum. Why? Simply because hugging a dog puts your face somewhere you (and he) definitely don’t want it to be (near a dog’s mouth). In addition, how can you be reading a dog's body language during an interaction if you can’t see his body because you’re hugging him?

Final Words

A lot of people get super excited when meeting a new dog, but most of the time, taking a more conservative approach is the right thing to do.

How would you like people to greet your dog? Let us know in the comments below!