What You Should Do When You Meet a Dog for The First Time

meet a dog for the first time

There is a saying that goes, “the first impression is the last impression.” This statement holds true not only in the dating world but also in the dog world.

Whether adopting a new puppy, pet sitting someone else’s, or playing with your neighbor’s dog; there are few things that you can do that will give a long-lasting impression.

Here are 10 things that you should do when you meet a dog for the time:

1. Ask The Owner First

When you meet a dog that you’re unfamiliar with, the first and best thing that you should is asking the owner. The dog’s owner knows their dog more than anyone else.

Sometimes, you can tell a lot about how the dog will respond to you by just looking at their owner. Does the owner seem friendly, or does she look scared?

2. Slow and Steady Wins The Race

Approaching a new dog and woman are pretty much alike. You want to build that intimacy slowly, don’t rush everything. Otherwise, you’re risking scare her off.

I know it’s our first instinct whenever we see something cute with fur to become excited. But you need to remain calm, do not rush to hug them as it can be intimidating for some dogs.

Your scents, mannerisms, and sounds will be entirely different from their owner, and therefore they need time to get to know you.

You also do not want to come across as fearful and unthreatening. Be confident, relaxed, and let them come to you first.

3. Let Them Sniff You

Dog sniffing something.

If a human is visually driven, a dog is scent driven. Dog uses smell for many things, from interacting and learning to play and hunting.

When a dog meets someone unfamiliar, they will want to sniff you to interact and learn about you, let them be.

Your smells can reveal a lot of things about you: your gender, whether you have a dog or not, the place where you live, if they’ve met you before, and more.

4. Don’t Be Afraid

It’s natural to be afraid that the dog is going to bite you. The key here is to maintain a natural stance. Don’t be scared to let the dog comes up and sniff you. If you’re afraid, they will feel it.

When they come to sniff you, stay calm and don’t extend your hand to their face. Show the back of your hand and hold your fingers together.

5. Don’t Look Directly Into Their Face

Most dogs will feel threatened when strangers stare at them. This is one of the most common reasons why small children often get bitten.

6. Do Not Smile

While smiling is associated as a friendly gesture for humans, but for dogs showing teeth means a threat. Therefore do not smile when meeting a dog for the first time if you do not want them to growl back at you.

7. Do Not Bend Over

Instead of bending over, let them come to you as you squat. Maintaining a posture is important to assume your authority. If you don’t keep a dominant posture, the dog will claim and possibly become aggressive toward you.

8. Never Pat a Dog on The Head

Child trying to pat a dog.

Patting a dog on the head can be threatening for most dogs. The correct way is: after they have sniffed your hand, call their name, and if they have accepted you, only then you can pet them gently on the back or chest.

When you call their name keep your voice calm and low since a high pitched sound can make the dog feels stressed out.

9. Understand Dog’s Body Language

Dogs express their feelings through their body language. In general, you should watch out for the following signs:

  • Head down.
  • Erect tail.
  • Ears back.
  • Tail lowered.
  • Licking lips.
  • Looking away.

Those are some of the most common signs that dogs show when they feel insecure. When you see some of the signs listed above, you should chill out, don’t escalate the fear.

However, some dogs might make it difficult for you to notice those signals. For example, few German Shepherds have had their ears cropped and thus you will not know if their ears are standing straight up or back.

On the other hand, if you see some of the following signs: wagging tail, curved body, circling around you; these means they are excited to get to know you.

10. Keep It Short

Keep your first meeting short. Most dogs hate long meetings with strangers. Give them time and space to be comfortable around you (hint: it may take several meetings).

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Andrew Garf

Hi, my name is Andrew Garf and I am 1 part part-time dog trainer, 2 part burger enthusiast, 3 part dog lover, too many parts?