Making a good first impression is just as important when greeting a dog as when greeting a human. Just like different cultures have various protocols when greeting new people, so there are some things to remember if you want to greet a dog you’ve never met before.

Sometimes, what seems innocent behavior to us humans, comes across as threatening to our canine friends. In this article, you will find out the tips from top vets in the country to remember when greeting dogs. This will help you successfully “introduce” yourself to a new dog.

How to Greet a Dog – 7 Top Tips

What should you remember when meeting a dog for the first time? Here are 7 tops tips to make your meet-and-greet a success:

1 Greet the human, not the dog

Dogs tend to read signals from their owners and if the owner is happy and relaxed, so will the dog be. This can be the first step to successfully greeting a new dog. This is also a good time to ask permission to greet the dog. There may be reasons why the owner doesn’t want any interaction with their pet.

2 Avoid eye contact

Greeting dog is different from greeting humans because it’s important to avoid eye contact. Eye contact with a dog can come across as a threat and it could put the dog on the defensive. If the dog is dominant, eye contact can be interpreted as a challenge.

3 Don’t approach head-on

Again, to avoid turning your greeting into a threat, approach the dog from the side. If the dog and his owner are coming to you directly, you can turn your body to the side to minimize any perceived threat that the dog may have.

4 Don’t crouch over

Crouching over the dog can make the dog feel threatened. It is usually best to squat down to the dog’s level at a respectful distance. However, in some circumstances, standing straight keeps you in the alpha position and can be an advantage.

5 Offer your fist

Of course, you would never dream of offering your fist to greet a human. However, in a “meet and greet” situation with a dog, your fist is smaller and, actually, less threatening than an open palm. Let the dog sniff your fist and when he or she wags their tail, it’s a good sign that everything is ok.

6 Pet the right places

When you see that the dog is relaxed and welcoming, you can gently pet him with the back of your open hand. The best places to do this are on the dog’s shoulder, neck, or chest. Only when you are completely “introduced” and the dog is calm and relaxed, should you pat him on the head.

7 Know when to stop

Greeting a dog has to take place on their terms. So, if the dog moves away, you should let him do so.