Home Lifestyle Expert reveals the one way you should never greet a dog

Expert reveals the one way you should never greet a dog


A look that says, ‘how very dare you’ (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Any dog, from an XL bully to a chihuahua, can become reactive when anxious, potentially lashing out and harming those around them.

That’s why it’s so important to approach dogs in a way that doesn’t cause any stress, whether it’s your beloved pet or one you come across on the street.

Many of us instinctively stick out hand out to a new dog to let them get our scent and approach for a pat.

According to Adam Spivey, trainer and founder of Southend Dog Training, however, this is the last thing you want to be doing.

On Instagram, Adam called it a ‘very intrusive way to say hello to a dog’, advising followers that sticking their hand in a strange dog’s face should be avoided.

He explained: ‘I don’t know who decided that this was a good way to greet dogs but it’s actually a very threatening act and can get you in trouble very very fast.

‘You must look at it from a dog’s perspective. This looks like you’re reaching out to touch the dog. If the dog’s nervous, he’s going to back away, growl, even snap at your hand.’

Even if their owner assures you they’re friendly and allows you to approach, a dog may still see you as an intruder or become protective towards their human.

It’s all situational, meaning your environment, how the dog is feeling, and your overall body language can impact the dog’s reaction. You might even just look like their vet or have an unfamiliar scent on your hands.

So to show them you’re not a threat, Preventative Vet recommends letting the dog come to you first. Avoid staring at them or raising your hand, and if they don’t find you intimidating they can approach.

‘Stand sideways on, allow the dog to sniff you and let them finish sniffing you,’ added Adam. ‘If they sit nicely and the owner gives you permission then you can stroke the dog.’

Ideally, you should stroke them from the side or underneath their head, steering clear of their forehead or back of their neck (which could alarm them).

A hand in the face can be threatening (Picture: Getty Images)

Blue Cross also has a ‘three Cs of Canine Choice’ to help you greet unfamiliar dogs safely:

  • Check. First, check in with yourself if it’s appropriate to go over and stroke the dog. If they’re otherwise engaged or seem angry, leave them be. Then, check with the owner for permission before approaching.
  • Call. Next, call the dog over by patting your legs gently and saying hello, which gives them the choice.
  • Count. Finally, if the dog comes over to you, you can stroke their shoulder nearest to you (but don’t lean over the dog). Count three strokes on their shoulder and then stop, allowing dog to move away if they wish.

Hugs are a no-no, as it reads as threatening, and it’s best to move slowly and speak calmly around a dog to make them feel comfortable.

Make sure you recognise what they’re trying to tell you too. Turning away or moving away from you signals they don’t want to be touched, and you should respect this by letting them leave the interaction.

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