How to Greet a New Dog

Learn safe ways to approach a new dog.

Maybe you're on your evening walk when you see someone coming toward you, walking an irresistibly adorable dog. Or perhaps you've gone to visit some friends and learned that they've adopted a new shelter dog since you saw them last. You love dogs, and you just want to say hello and give out some snuggles. But did you know that there are right and wrong ways to approach a new dog?

Dogs Have Different Social Rules Than Humans

The first thing to know about greeting a new dog is that canines don't use the same social behaviors as people. While most dogs will forgive many faux pas that humans commit against them, some dogs aren't as easygoing. That's why it's important to know how dogs might interpret some of the actions that seem reasonable to a human who is trying to introduce themselves.

For instance, most humans have an inborn culturally-acceptable distance that they leave between themselves and a person they don't know. Think about how uncomfortable you have been when a stranger has stepped inside that invisible circle, too close to you for comfort.

Dogs have similar inborn ways that they interact with one another, and they're different from how humans act toward each other. One example is that dogs rarely approach one another head-on unless they are in conflict. This isn't readily understandable by most humans, who do generally advance toward one another head-on and interact face-to-face.

So when you're approaching a new dog, it's important to leave your human social skills behind and adopt more canine friendly ones.

Do's and Don'ts for Approaching a New Dog

Here are the most important things to keep in mind when you are greeting a dog that you don't know.

Following these simple do's and don'ts of approaching a new dog can help keep you safe, preserve the dog's comfort, and set the two of you up for a good relationship in the future. After all, manners are important; dogs just have different ones than we do.

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