Greeting a strange dog, how do you do that? The following advice is often given to that question: extend your hand towards the dog so that he can sniff it.
But…, is that the best way to greet a dog?
Let it smell: stop it!
It’s a weird habit that you may have learned from your parents, and why…?
You know the feeling, you want to greet a strange dog (or someone wants to greet your dog on the street or at home), and then it comes, an outstretched hand towards your dog’s snout. ‘Let’s smell it’. Often followed by a pat on his head.
A fun way to get to know each other, right?
How not to greet a dog
You lean your body towards the dog (especially if it is a smaller dog), you extend your hand towards the dog. Either way, you use physical pressure, which for some dogs is perceived as frightening, threatening, antisocial or at best, a little exciting.
Unfortunately, many owners find this antisocial, they correct their dog and the next time their dog does not growl, he does not take a step back, but he bites immediately.
You demand interaction, as it were, while there is still no relationship between the dog and you.
This dog has not yet been able to determine whether you are ‘good’ or not, and the dog is probably still processing information about the ‘hangover.
Also read: Take your dog on a trip in the camper
The forced acquaintance can (if it happens more often) be a foundation for bigger behavioral problems. So greeting a strange dog in this way is often not very useful…back to menu ↑
Approaching a leashed dog
If you want to greet a dog that is on a leash, things are a little different.
For a dog that is on a leash, this way of greeting is even more exciting. There is no option to just walk away.
What remains then is to give up (freeze, allow everything), flee, as far as possible, or grab a hand.
Now the dog does what you did when you extended your hand; he also uses physical pressure himself…but to get you more at a distance.
This in turn reduces the stress on the dog.
The point is that the owner often does not always understand ‘dog’ very well. If both the owner and the ‘stranger’, who want to greet the dog with the best intentions, don’t know much about dog behavior and the dog finds these kinds of introductions very difficult, then you are likely to have real problems.back to menu ↑
Let your dog sniff when you meet
So people think that by pushing a hand up to your dog’s nose, your dog can smell if you’re being friendly. Unfortunately, dog friendliness has no specific scent.
Dogs can smell who you are, what you are, how you are, without an outstretched hand. In fact, dogs have such a good nose that they don’t have to make contact with you at all to smell you.
The ‘cross-smelling’, which often feels a bit embarrassing for us humans, is really just to gather extra precise information. Just like with 2 dogs that smell each other’s backside and genitals.
We humans often find that really distasteful and weird.
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Do I have to hold out my hand to let the dog sniff it?
How a dog gets acquainted
Actually, it’s a bit like people on social media; you see someone’s profile picture, that’s like just smelling for a dog. You know some general things about this person.
If you find him or her really interesting, you will look further in the profile info or on his or her timeline (for the dog ‘smelling the ass’).
Then you see that that person may have the same hobby or music taste as you. Then you can get to know more. Or not.
It is also possible that you have already given up on someone’s profile picture. And that’s fine too!
So it is also possible that a dog that you would like to greet just keeps its distance and does not really come to sniff you. This dog is simply not interested in getting to know you better.
Respect that, it’s not your own dog, so there’s no need to worry about that.
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How to greet a dog the right way!
- First of all, ask the owner if he or she thinks it’s OK. With working dogs, for example, it’s very important that you just leave them alone. So if the owner says ‘no, you can’t pet him or ‘do you just want to ignore my dog?’, do that. No matter how much you would like to cuddle.
- Just stand in a normal, neutral position, with your hands where you already had them, for example by your side.
- Ignore the dog, talk to the owner. Looking at the dog and asking ‘ooooh you are so beautiful, what’s your name, does not make the dog suddenly pronounce its name.
- Don’t stare or try to pet, or force other types of interaction
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Does your dog have trouble greeting strangers? Tell us in the comments!
How should you greet a strange dog?
If a dog wants to get to know you as a result of your ‘profile photo’ (smell without contact), he will walk over to you and sniff you.
Usually, if you leave them alone, they will turn away for a moment and then come back for another sniff.
Then it may be that the dog really looks up your hands and starts wagging its tail with a relaxed body. This could be a sign that you are “OK” in the dog’s eyes. (Note; wagging does not mean that a dog is friendly. If the wag is fast or tense, this can indicate that the dog is going to bite).
If you then start petting the dog, do it on his neck/chest/back/shoulders, not on his head. Most dogs find this very unpleasant and threatening. Does the dog react relaxed and happy? If you stop, does he ask for more? Then feel free to give it another pat!
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Meet when you visit
Suppose you have a visitor. Half of the people then really, really want to get to know your dog. Your dog barks, growls, and keeps his distance.
The visit will look at your dog, yell, act really nice and enthusiastic. And your dog keeps acting ugly with a raised lip. Do you have to say something about that?
Yes, you may well ask your visitors to sit down and tell them to stop greeting your dog. In the meantime, you can take care of your dog. How can you help him to be less tense? Maybe put it in another room with a bone? Or play with him?back to menu ↑
How do you greet a strange dog… spread the word!
Tell your kids how to safely introduce dogs. If someone comes to your dog with an outstretched hand, explain to them how it can be done differently. Maybe your dog doesn’t mind at all, but you can help another dog with it, and maybe even prevent a biting incident.
By teaching hand touch, you can also help your own dog. This way your dog doesn’t immediately think ‘oooh dear, what is that, what does that strange person want from me’, but instead your dog thinks ‘hey, that’s such a button… if I press that, my boss will go to me. reward