How To Meet A Dog

The “hand sniff test” – stop doing that! It’s a badly ingrained habit that society has been taught, without
a clear understanding of what they’re actually doing…

When you reach your hand out towards a dog, you are using body pressure toward them, giving them no
time to assess whether you are safe and whether they require further investigation to download your
information.

You are forcing an interaction of a relationship that hasn’t had time to develop. To some dogs, this is
quite rude and the reason a lot of dogs snap at or bite people. This can cause a lot of behavioral issues
because of layered stress.

If the dog is on lead, they have nowhere to go and if they are sensitive to spatial pressure, can end up
shutting down, shying away or even snapping at your hand or even worse, your face to get you to back
away.

People think that by offering their hand it can give the dog time to sniff to know you’re friendly…
Dogs can smell without being forced to sniff your very biteable hand. Their noses are far superior to ours
and don’t require close contact forced upon them to do so.

Some dogs might not want to know you. You have no relationship with them, and that’s perfectly fine.
They aren’t your dog so you don’t need to touch them for your own personal satisfaction.

So, If you are meeting a dog, what should you do?

  • Ignore the dog and talk to the owner.
  • Ask the owner if you can interact with their dog. Not all dog owners want strangers touching
    their dogs – especially strangers who are unlikely to see you again.
  • Stand up straight and relaxed, with your hands at your side (don’t bend down).
  • Don’t stare at the dog and don’t force any interaction by going in for a pat straight away. If the
    dog wants to know you, it will come up to you and sniff around.
  • Usually the dog will move away and then come back for a second sniff. Some dogs will even bunt
    your hand and wag their tails, which are good signs that you’re likely an accepted new friend.
  • Give them a couple slow pats down their back (not their head) and then stop. Is the dog happy?

Has it accepted your interaction? This will determine whether you can continue to give it more
pats.

Don’t be jerks when meeting a dog. Too often I see the “hand sniff test”. Would you like it if I put my
hand to your nose when we first met?

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