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Meeting a new dog is exciting if you’re crazy about dogs, like we are. And watching your dog make a new dog friend is one of the best things in the world. But what can you do to make sure your introductions keep all parties safe and comfortable? These tips for introducing yourself to a dog, and for introducing two dogs to each other, will ensure everything goes smoothly.
You love meeting dogs, but do dogs love meeting you?
You love meeting dogs, but do dogs love meeting you? While it’s easy to get overwhelmed by their adorableness, dogs appreciate calm, quiet greetings. When meeting a new dog, keep the following in mind:
- Read their body language. Dogs communicate with their bodies, so listen to what they are telling your with their ears, eyes, and tails.
- Pet their sides, not their head. From a dog’s perspective, a head pat can be a little scary!
- Crouch down on their level, and let them come to you before offering to pet them.
- If they’re shy, that’s okay! Ignore the dog until they decide they’re interested in visiting with you.
- Keep tasty, stinky treats handy. When first meeting a dog, a little bribery always helps.
When you see a cute dog on the street, it’s hard not to immediately want to be best friends. But before you pet a stranger’s dog, make sure you:
- Ask their owners. The dog might be in training, a service dog, or uncomfortable with people they don’t know, and it’s always best to have verbal permission before an impromptu introduction.
- Offer the back of your hand with your fingers closed for the dog to sniff.
- Once they’ve gotten a good whiff of you and seem comfortable, feel free to gently pat their sides.
But what about introducing two new dogs? Doggy friendships are a beautiful thing, and dogs are social creatures. Keep the following in mind to make sure that the greeting starts off on the right paw:
- Make sure you have a secure, comfortable harness that helps you maintain control of your dog, such as this well-reviewed option, so that you can pull them away quickly if needed.
- Ensure you’re on neutral ground—like the sidewalk outside your home or in a park—to prevent any territorial behaviors.
- Keep their leashes loose and let them greet in an arc. A friendly dog greeting involves dogs circling each other with loose, wiggly body language. Their bodies should be curved and their tails should wag happily.
- Know the warning signs. If you suddenly see stiff bodies, raised hackles, and staring, watch out! They probably aren’t ready to become friends just yet. Separate them and wait until their body language is relaxed before trying again.
- If a fight does break out, don’t grab either dog by the collar, as this can result in a bite. Instead, try to interrupt the dogs by making loud noises or placing a barrier between them. If those methods don’t work, each handler should grab the dogs by the back legs and pull them apart.
- Lastly, keep calm. By relaxing and not tightening up on your dog’s leash, you’re telling them that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Dogs are experts at reading both human and dog body language, so if we seem nervous, you can be sure they’ll pick up on it.
It’s always fun to meet new friends, and it’s equally important that all parties involved feel good about introductions. (Come to think of it, humans and dogs are alike in this way.) Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to introduce your dog to other dogs easily, as well as make new dog friends yourself.