In a dog’s world, frontal approaches(from other dogs or humans) can often throw them into a defensive or challenged state. During a dog’s first experience when meeting with a new dog, out of caution and respect, they will first start sniff the sides of the other party’s body. After the initial stage of sniffing and identifying, then comes mutual sniffing, whether from the back or the front or all sides! To begin the greeting process, it is advisable to let your dog step out of their own comfort zone to approach the new experience on their own, it can be a new environment, person or dog. Wagging tails are your dog’s sign of excitement and eagerness when approaching new experiences.
The first areas that is safe to touch when meeting a dog for the first time, is the underside of its neck, chest or lower back. Contrary to popular belief, touching the top of its head is an unnatural gesture in the dog world, and can set off a moody dog to snap at you, so don’t try that first.
Some signs to look out for before you determine if you can touch a dog, if they are:
- Showing half moon eyes (showing their eye whites)
- Ears tucked back
- Flashing teeth
- Hairs standing on their back
Once you notice any of the above signs, it is a good gauge to step away and allow the dog to make the attempt to approach you first.
In any case, if the dog starts to retreat, let them walk away and give them to space to re-approach you again in their own time. Just remember that human greetings and mannerisms are different from dogs. What we find friendly as humans often do not apply to dogs.
Next time you meet a new dog, instead of directly approaching them with human greetings(e.g start trying to pet them face front, luring them in by calling them multiple times, approaching to hug them), practice the “No touch, No talk, No eye contact” rule.
The former usually will put most dogs into their fight or flight states, where they tend to bite, pee on the floor or run away, while the latter gives space for the dogs. Allowing them to come to you to get your scent and sense your energy will determine your “name” in their terms. If the dog is not interested, it will walk away, just let them decide. If it starts to lean or jump on you, gently push the dog away and claim your space (we respect their space, and they respect ours). Do not offer the dog affection until it shows calm energy.
“No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact” rule can be applied in a lot of situations. For instance, it is effective when dealing with your overly-excited or anxious dog. If your dog starts jumping around or spin excitedly when you return home, then “No Touch, No Talk, No eye contact” rule will teach him that such behaviour is not desired and will he will not be rewarded with your attention. If you are consistent and do not acknowledge your dog until he has reached a calm, submissive state, then you can minimize or even eliminate the hyperactive greeting upon your return.
It is also important to teach visitors to your home to follow the “No touch, no talk, no eye contact” approach. It’s very common for people to say that they don’t mind when their friends’ dogs jump up on them, but in your house, you must be consistent with the rules. If your dog is not allowed to jump up on you or your family members, he must not be allowed to jump up on other humans as well. This rule will help to avoid situations that might escalate because someone does not know how to approach a dog properly.
So next time when you have the urge to excite your dog, remember to stick to practice the 3 rules. Start reinforcing to achieve a calm and happier dog today!