Can’t Touch This – Tips for Meeting Dogs

by Amy Burkert

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Buster: Some dogs love meeting new people!

Ty: And some dogs don’t.

Buster: I love traveling, because there are lots of opportunities to make new friends.

Ty: I think you mean lots of opportunities to be assaulted. That’s why I wear this fancy vest.

Ty Sleeping on Bench

Buster: Yes, and that’s your idea of “working,” too! Woof!

Ty: Whatever! It keeps people from putting their paws all over my irresistible wrinkles.

Buster: Perhaps the problem is that humans don’t understand the way dogs like to be greeted by strangers.

Ty: Well, if that’s the case, let’s give them some tips.

Tips for Meeting Dogs

  • Dogs like to make the first move, so always allow a dog to come to you. It’s best if you stand still and completely ignore the dog at first.
  • The dog’s person can best speak for that dog, so ask the person’s permission to meet the dog. If you get their permission, follow these steps:
  1. Take notice of the dog’s body language. Is he stiff and staring directly at you? Or is he loosely wagging his tail and smiling? Depending on what you see, decide whether this is a good time to interact with the dog or not.
  2. If the dog appears relaxed, turn your body so that you’re not directly facing the dog and either stand straight or squat down – just don’t bend over the dog.
  3. Move slowly and stay calm. Direct eye contact makes dogs uncomfortable, so look away, blink deliberately, and talk softly to let the dog know you’re friendly.
  4. Watch the dog’s body language. If he is interested in you and appears comfortable, offer your hand for him to sniff.
  5. If the dog investigates your hand and appears at ease, you can gently pet him on the neck, shoulder, or chest – just not on the top of the head.
  6. Continue to pay attention to the dog’s body language. He will let you know if he wants more interaction or if “meet and greet” time is over.
  7. If at any time the dog backs away or appears uncomfortable, stop what you are doing and go back to ignoring the dog.

Buster and Ty: Trust us – dogs will recognize this polite greeting and love you for it!