dog

Greeting A Dog: Dos And Don’ts For Making A New Best Friend

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

Every time I see a dog walking by in the park or on the street, my immediate impulse is to go over and say hi. After all, it’s pretty hard to resist those sweet puppy dog eyes!

That said, this particular situation is a great case study for when you should definitely resist your instinct…

There’s a right way and a wrong way to greet a dog, and the choices you make at this juncture can make a huge difference in whether or not you and the dog in question become lifelong friends.

Obviously, the love of any dog is something worth having — we’re talking about an animal sweet enough to be a nanny and brave enough to be a rescuer, after all — so it’s definitely a good idea to take the time to learn exactly what to do to befriend a pup you’ve never met before.

Even those of us who have always had dogs in our lives have something to learn. I’ve always considered myself a dog person, but I had no clue about some of these helpful tips!

How do you usually greet dogs? Let us know in the comments below!

How To Greet A Dog

How To Greet A Dog
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There are lots of ins and outs to meeting a dog, and it totally depends on your environment.

Before greeting any dog that you don’t know well, you should check in with her owner and see if she’s friendly.

Double-check that there aren’t any circumstances that might make her territorial or skittish, like other dogs, loud noises, or a favorite toy nearby.

Make sure that both you and the dog are in the right mindset for a meet-and-greet, then it’s time to get down to making a new friend!

DON'T #1: Invade Their Space

DON'T #1: Invade Their Space
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Lots of us have the instinct to hold our hand out under a dog’s nose to let her sniff.

It’s a good idea to let her get acclimated by having her smell you, but try not to invade her space with your body.

That means no sticking hands or fingers near her nose or mouth, which could make her feel threatened or attacked.

It also means that you should wait a few minutes to pet her, and that you shouldn’t loom over her, all of which can put her on the defensive.

DON'T #2: Be Pushy

DON'T #2: Be Pushy
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If a pup doesn’t seem to be in the mood to say hello, don’t push them to be social.

Most dogs are very eager and excited when it comes to meeting new people, but a young puppy, a recently adopted pooch, or an older dog might not feel quite up to the challenge of meeting new people.

If the dog is having a quiet snooze in the corner, or simply won’t come out of a hiding spot, leave her be. She’ll come investigate when she’s ready.

DON'T #3: Rush Them

DON'T #3: Rush Them
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It can be hard to keep from running straight over to a pooch when you’re super-excited for some dog time!

This is something especially common with kids, who may just not be able to contain their joy at seeing a dog.

That said, running over to say hi can make your canine friend either nervous or overly excited.

The dog might perceive it as either an attack or an attempt to initiate a game, and get increasingly wound-up and hyper.

DON'T #4: Hug Or Squeeze

DON'T #4: Hug Or Squeeze
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The temptation to snuggle up to a dog is pretty overwhelming at times, as we all know!

Dogs that you know well can make for great cuddle buddies, and might really enjoy being hugged and kissed.

Dogs you don’t know as well might tolerate it, but they won’t like being squeezed, and they’ll probably feel uncomfortable with you touching or kissing their head or face, and may try to wriggle free.

DO #1: Avoid Eye Contact

DO #1: Avoid Eye Contact
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This sounds funny, but if you want to make a good impression on a dog, don’t look her straight in the eye.

For dogs, and for many members of the animal kingdom, direct eye contact is perceived as a challenge and a sign of aggression.

Instead, pretend you don’t see her, or that you’re looking at something else.

Give her plenty of time to look you over and assess whether or not she’s interested in saying hello.

DO #2: Let The Dog Make The First Move

DO #2: Let The Dog Make The First Move
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Be prepared to play the long game. Some dogs will trot right over to say hi, others need to spend some time investigating you first.

Carry on with what you’re doing, whether that’s chatting with the her owner or looking at your phone.

Allow the dog to sniff around for interesting smells, and see whether her tail wags or she sticks around.

Both are signs that she might be open to meeting you for real.

DO #3: Put Yourself On Their Level

DO #3: Put Yourself On Their Level
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When the dog is totally done with her initial investigation, crouch or kneel down so you’re at her level, and aren’t intimidating to her.

Don’t loom or reach over her, even from a sitting position.

Talk softly to her and maybe hold a hand low and away from her face for her to sniff, and continue to avoid prolonged eye contact.

Instead try tilting your head down and looking at her paws or nose, or blink slowly as you greet her.

DO #4: Pet The Dog’s Back

DO #4: Pet The Dog’s Back
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When you reach out to pet her, it’s common to go for the top of the dog’s head and for her ears.

Instead, try reaching out and petting her side or back gently, with slow even strokes.

You can also try chucking her under the chin if she’s tilting her head up in a doggy smile.

If she rolls over on her back for a belly rub, that’s a big honor and an display of trust.

Oblige her with the very best belly rub ever—the first of many, because you’re best friends now!

If you just love making friends with pooches, make sure to SHARE for every other dog lover out there!