How to Successfully Greet a Dog at First Meet

There is this common desire in people to want to greet dogs they meet for the first time, especially when the pup is cute. They simply want to give every dog they see a “ happy to see you” smile, even when they are just seeing the dog for the first time. 

But, sadly, not all dogs will love you back, some dogs will outrightly reject you or even bark at you. 

If you have been disgraced by canines before or stunted by their bite, this article is for you. You don’t need to give up on your love for dogs, you simply need to understand how to greet a dog at first meet.  

How Do Dogs Perceive Our ‘Friendly Greeting’?

Nervous dog meeting a stranger

First, you’ll need to understand how dogs behave, and what they consider a “friendly greeting.” Most of our greeting styles are rather perceived by dogs as being “offensive.” We might want to fuss with the dog or play around its ears as our way of a greeting, but the dog can receive it as an attempt to bully or frighten her.

Put yourself in the dog’s shoes for a moment and imagine that someone you don’t know comes straight for your head and starts playing with your ears. It seems quite creepy and puts us on guard, doesn’t it?

However, as humans, it’s a lot easier because we share common languages and we can understand our unspoken expressions. But, we can’t speak the language of dogs, neither can they speak ours and we can only read them through their bodily expressions. 

Now, let’s see what you might be doing wrong on greeting.

Mistakes You Need to Stop Making When Greeting Dogs 

A girl aggressively trying to pat a strange dog

If dogs reject your greetings it doesn’t mean that you are an enemy or that your potential four-legged friend is hostile or unfriendly - maybe you’re making a mistake.

Here’s what you need to note:

  • The greeting style among humans is a handshake, body or eye contact, or even mere facial expressions.  If you greet an unfamiliar dog this way, you are inviting trouble. 
  • The priority of each dog is to feel secure and defend themselves, and they’ll bark or bite in any situations they perceive as life-threatening.
  • Some dogs are amazingly sociable, and they will jump around you, wag their tail vigorously, waiting to be petted.

The ideal thing to do is to notice the dog’s initial reaction towards you, the dog that wags her tail and seems excited is safe to greet. However, the pup that barely makes a move and stares at you might not be a good idea to greet instantly.

Here’s How to Greet a New Dog

Hand reaching out to greet a new dog

Just like humans, not every dog is going to love you back. You will meet dogs that will love you and you will also meet dogs that don’t love you - not even a tiny bit. 

This is what you have to do when you meet a new dog:

Get Permission

Kindly ask the owner of the pup if it’s okay to pet the dog, trust me, not all dogs want to be touched. You’ll need to ask, because, the owner understands his dog and is the only one that knows if his dog is friendly or not. 

However, if the owner declines, don’t push any further, just respectively withdraw your intention to greet the dog.

Allow The Dog to Smell You Over

If the owner gives you the “go ahead,” simply allow the dog to sniff you, all the while staying calm. Ensure the dog assesses most of your body, you can stick out your hand to his nose for him to assess also. 

Don’t rush into touching the dog while the dog is still trying to assess you. Rushing in could result in a bite. Moreover, some dogs will retreat few seconds after sniffing, please do not go to the dog, even after the owner has permitted you, by moving away, it shows that the dog doesn’t like you. A dog that loves you will lean on you after sniffing or even nudge you.

Make Contact With Your New Friend

So, when you’re completely certain that the dog fancies you, keenly but gradually touch the dog’s head and ears, while assuring you avoid all forms of eye contact with the pup, to avoid frightening the dog.

Final Thoughts

This is how to greet a strange dog, don’t just rush in thinking the dog understands your intentions. Always try to see things from a dog’s perspective, especially the ones you are meeting for the first time. This will save you from getting harmed, and keep you believing that dogs love you.

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