When you think about it though, it’s understandable from your dog’s perspective. I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty uncomfortable with a person I don’t know, who is 3 times my size (or more!), reaching out to touch my face!
Some dogs take longer than others to feel comfortable with new people. Get to know your dog’s body language and temperament so that you never put your dog or another person in an uncomfortable, or even dangerous, position. Whether your dog loves new people, runs away, or can seem unpredictable, here are three steps to follow when introducing your dog to a new person, and signs to look out for that could indicate that they are feeling uncomfortable.
1. Give Them Time to Get Comfortable
Have you ever noticed that dogs seem to LOVE people who ignore them (and might not even like dogs!)? There’s a reason for this!
When someone new is meeting your dog the very first thing you should instruct them to do is ignore your dog entirely. For us dog lovers, this can feel like it goes against all of our natural instincts that make us want to love on them and say hello!
Remember though that to your dog, direct eye contact, showing your teeth, and reaching over their head are all signs of dominance. Although we might not think about it-- each of these are things we humans tend to do when saying hello to a new dog.
Instead of reaching out right away, the unfamiliar person should be asked to ignore the dog. Don’t look at it, reach out to pet it, or crouch down to “get on their level”. While ignoring the dog, allow him to sniff out the new person until his body language tells you that he is feeling comfortable. For some dogs, this happens in a matter of seconds. Other dogs may need several minutes before they decide someone is okay.
2. Start Slow