How to Greet a New Dog

by Debra Levy
Go slow when you meet a new dog.

Go slow when you meet a new dog.

Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

You love dogs, but don't be surprised if they don't love you back ... immediately. Like people, some dogs are more friendly than others, and new dogs in particular may take a while to be cordial. New dogs can be especially nervous or scared, so greeting them takes patience.

Step 1

Give the dog plenty of space. Back off if he barks viciously or bares his teeth. Never maintain direct eye contact, which threatens the dog and may antagonize him to bite.

Step 2

Ask the owner if the dog is friendly and likes people. If the owner says no, do not force interaction with the dog. However, if the dog is friendly, give him space and allow him to approach you first.

Step 3

Turn your body sideways, extending the back of your hand out toward the dog with a piece of kibble or small dog treat in your closed hand. Both postures are non-threatening, subordinate gestures. Do not touch the dog. Wait for him to sniff or touch you first.

Step 4

Offer the treat or drop it on the ground. Once the dog sees that you are non-threatening, try touching or petting him briefly under the chin or on the chest area, and then stop. If the dog seems friendly, continue to pet him gently, but only for a short period of time so as not to overexcite him.

An Item You Will Need

  • Kibble or small dog treats

Tip

  • Usually it's best to let dogs approach you rather than you approaching them. Once the dog approaches, you may wish to crouch down, which makes you smaller and less intimidating to the dog.

Warning

  • Many dogs do not like to be patted on the top of the head, which is often the first place most people reach for. Nor do dogs like to be hugged, restrained, kissed on the face, or stared at -- the latter is a threatening gesture to most dogs. If a dog begins to get irritated or displays signs of stress, simply back off and do not move quickly, even freezing in place, which allows the dog to retreat.

Photo Credits

  • Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

About the Author

Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.

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