Always make a good first impression when introducing yourself to a new dog for the very first time. Even the most well socialized dogs can be uncomfortable when approached by a stranger. Timid dogs, in particular, can be easily frightened when meeting new people, and become aggressive. Check out the three tips below for introducing yourself to a new dog.
1. Ask Permission Before Approaching
Before you approach an unfamiliar dog, always ask the owner if you can interact with their dog. Even if the dog approaches you first, the dog may just be curious, and not necessarily saying “pet me.” It goes without saying that you should avoid approaching a dog that is tied up, even if the dog seems friendly. Once the owner has given you permission, let the dog come to you. If you can, squat down so you are level with the dog; but avoid making eye contact as that may seem confrontational to the dog. Definitely avoid bending over the dog because even a smiling face can be scary to a dog when it is looming over them.
2. Easy Does It
Taking it slow and easy will allow the dog to remain calm when getting to know you. After all, dogs are naturally curious, and they are usually eager to make new friends whether it be other dogs at doggy day care or a new human companion. Because every dog is different, you need to pay attention to how the dog is responding, and listen to the owner. For example, many dogs appreciate you extending a hand for the dog to sniff; but some dogs may be afraid. Better to keep your hands by your side, and when the dog is comfortable, you can reach under the chin and give the dog a scratch under the chin or on the chest. Avoid reaching over the dog’s head or trying to pet the head. No dog, or human, likes a stranger patting their head!
3. Every Dog Is Different
Just like people, dogs have different personalities and moods. Sometimes even a friendly dog simply wants to be left alone. Until you are well acquainted with a dog, never try to hug or be overly affectionate with a dog – no matter how cute the dog is. Always ask the owner if you can give the dog a treat, or if the dog enjoys meeting new people.
Even if you love dogs, and dogs usually love you; you should remember that it may not be possible to become instant BFFs with every dog you see. If the first encounter doesn’t go well, you can try again another time; or just be Facebook friends with the dog.