How to greet a strange dog correctly: don’t put your hand under its nose!

László Enikő

2020. October 24

Many people feel the urge to pet and say hello as soon as they see a dog. Anyone who owns a dog knows exactly that this is not always good for their pet, sometimes the owners themselves don't like it when strangers approach their four-legged friend.


Today, dogs love people and, of course, lots of petting. But some dogs find it intrusive when a stranger puts their hand under their nose and starts scratching their head angrily. It is impossible to know whether the four-legged friend likes strangers at all, what kind of mood he is in, or whether he has any health problems. Some dogs are nervous when approached by strangers and can be unpredictable with them. And even putting your hand in front of it can be quite irritating, as it invades your intimate sphere. This is particularly dangerous for humans because can bite by the dog. That’s why it’s important to say hello properly the four-legged friend.

Owner is the first!

Always ask the owner before petting a strange dog. Pets now look to their owners for positive reinforcement, so if they see that they don’t have a problem with you, they will feel the same way about you.
Many dogs dislike, fear or are aggressive towards strangers. Therefore, it is most important to always approach the animal with the owner’s permission. This is especially important for small children because some dogs do not like them. Once the owner has given permission to pet their dog, the following steps follow.

Always greet the owner first.

Don’t make threats

You can threaten an animal against its will. If you want to greet him the right way, it’s best to be with him, not against him. That way you don’t get in his way, he can easily walk away when he wants to leave. Another important step is not to look her directly in the eye. Dogs can also feel threatened by this and this can cause fear or aggression. It is worth looking at the nose or the hand, not directly into the eyes.

Watch the video below to see how to do this:

Away with your hands!

In general a common misconception is that the correct way to approach a quadruped is to put your hand in front of the animal so that it can smell it. This is not entirely correct. The dog already smell your scent before you even notice him. It’s part of the welcome ritual to smell your clothes and feet, so you can leave it up to him. A palm in front of the dog can be perceived as a threat, so it is safer and less intimidating to face them with a fist. First just stroke her back. If it feels good, the ears and the head can go.

Don’t reach out to the dog with outstretched palms.

Know when to stop

If the dog turns and walks away, it is a sign that it says thank you, but the stroking is enough. Respect that and stop if that’s what she wants. This way, the encounter will remain a positive experience for him and he will allow you to pet him next time.

For most dogs, it’s worth going through these steps, since you don’t know what kind of dog it is. For more withdrawn individuals, it is good to approach them gradually. Perhaps a few sessions will help them come out of their shell and be more open to people, as they have had positive experiences with many strangers. But this should not be forced, because it can backfire.

Most dogs do not like to be cuddled by strangers.

When no is the answer

The owner may not allow you to pet your pet. This should not be taken as an insult, as there are many reasons for this. Many dogs are stressed around strangers, afraid of them and can be aggressive towards them. Small dogs are less fond of children, so owners do not always allow them to approach them. It may also be that they don’t want strangers to touch their four-legged friend because of the coronavirus. There are a thousand reasons for this, but it should be accepted and not taken as a personal insult.

Some dogs are so affectionate and friendly that they even jump into the arms of strangers. If this is a positive experience for you, you may start scratching your ears.

(Photos: Getty Images Hungary)

alien dog dog getting to know greet dog Petting Training

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