Archive for the ‘pet sitting’ Category

How to Properly Approach and Greet a Strange dog

August 20, 2014

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As I was sitting this morning on the patio at Starbucks having my morning chai tea, I was observing the comings and goings of people. There was a couple sitting with their dog two tables away, and I noticed that some people just walked on by and others stopped to pet her. What struck me as odd, was that the majority of people didn’t bother asking if it was ok to pet her. They just approached without even knowing her temperament or how she might react to strangers. I imagine they just assumed she was ok, because she was out in public. That is a very dangerous mistake for people to make and can have dire consequences.

In the pet sitting business, we encounter new dogs almost on a daily basis and we need to know what the proper etiquette is. I remembered an article I had read years ago from behaviorist and trainer Jean Donaldson. She explained it the do’s and don’ts in a way we all can relate to.

  • Many of us are guilty of the following and I am no exception:
  • Neglect to ask the dog’s person for permission to meet their dog.
  • Reach over the dog’s head and pat, pat, pat.
  • Put your face up close to the dog’s face and coo, “Gimme a kiss.”
  • Spot a dog you want to meet, make direct, unblinking eye contact, and quicken your step as you walk directly toward the dog while making high- pitched vocalizations.
  • You see an irresistible bundle of fur and walk up to the dog from the rear and enthusiastically rub his or her cute little tush.
  • Approach a dog by looking directly at her and as you near with your arms extended clap at her or wave your hands in the air.
  • You see a sweet dog lying down. You crouch over at the waist, outstretch your arm and very slowly slink toward the dog while looking directly into her eyes.
  • Assume that because you love dogs, all dogs love you too, and that you possess a special affinity for dogs and them with you and therefore you can forego the formalities that ordinary humans should observe.

Let’s go over the proper way to greet a dog you have never met before

  1.  Don’t approach the dog. Pretend you are ignoring the dog. (Dogs, like many of us, prefer not to be zeroed in on by a stranger. Have you ever noticed how well-mannered dogs meeting for the first time turn their heads way from each other?)
  2. Ask the dog’s person for permission to meet their dog. Don’t get offended if they say no. They know your dog better than you.
  3. Stay relaxed. You can yawn, or put on an easy smile, or slowly blink your eye lids. Keep your body loose. (All these signal to the dog that you are not a threat)
  4. Do not look the dog in the eyes. Looking directly into the eyes of a dog signals dominance and aggression. Obviously something we don’t want to express.
  5. Turn your body so you are not facing the dog. (Again, being face-to-face is polite to most of us, but can signal threat or aggressive intentions to a dog. Notice well-mannered dogs greeting each other. As they   approach they make a half-moon curve as they pass each other than turn nose to butt with one another. Then they are on their way or continue interacting and sometimes move into play.)
  6.  Stand straight or squat. Do not crouch over the dog. (I doubt you want to be crouched over by a stranger and neither does your dog. It’s threatening.)
  7.  Allow the dog to come to you. Most dogs are naturally curious and they will let you know if they are interested in you. Ever notice how your dog might be interested in some dogs and others they stay away from? Same with people. Just don’t take it personally.
  8.  If the dog does show interest–sniffing you, relaxed posture, tail wag (not all dogs will wag and not all wagging is friendly), sometimes looking at you with soft eyes–then you can slowly offer the dog your hand for investigation. (Hmm, this human might be okay.)
  9.  Let the dog sniff your hand, if she wants to, and then gently touch the dog on the shoulder, neck or chest, not the top of the head.
  10.  The dog will clearly tell you if she wants more interaction or if she is finished with you. Listen to her.
  11.   If at any time during the interaction the dog pulls away, stop what you are doing.
  12. Go back to ignoring the dog and allow him/her to come back to you on their own accord.

Never assume a dog is friendly, and always practice good manners.  It will be a much safer and happier experience for everyone

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