Most Seattleites are no stranger to the storied Seattle Freeze, the phenomenon of trying to make friends in the sometimes chilly Northwest. Luckily, I’ve found that having a dog by your side is the best possible antifreeze – and I love meeting new Seattle dogs all over the city!
You can only make one first impression, on both a dog and a person, and it’s helpful to understand what will create the best possible experience for a new dog. Here are a few tips to help you out!
Dogs take cues from their owner, so they can be more at ease if they see their person feels good about talking with you. Ask the owner if it’s okay for you to pet their dog, because it’s possible there may be a good reason for the dog not to meet you right now. During this time, you should be ignoring the dog so they don’t feel threatened by you.
Dogs can interpret direct eye contact as aggression or a challenge to them, so begin by looking at the owner or a central part of the dog’s body; this will avoid eye contact but still allow you to use your peripheral vision. Being side by side with the dog will help them feel more comfortable and less threatened than if you were facing them directly.
It can be exciting to meet a new canine friend, but relax and let the new dog come to you and check you out. It’s a good sign if you get sniffed, and you can crouch down to be on the dog’s level. Don’t lean or hover over top a dog as this can be seen as aggressive as well.
Petting a dog’s head, particularly one that isn’t yet comfortable with you, can be threatening. Start by petting the side of the body, then the chest and/or shoulders. Watch for any signs of discomfort like backing away, at which point you should take a break.