How People and Dogs Greet: Hand-to-Paw

Education for pet owners is an important part of helping people and their companions create a better dialogue with one another.  Have you ever wondered why dogs who first meet a new person might snap or bite if the person reaches towards them to say hello? Patricia Mcconnell, PhD in her book “The Other End of the Leash”  explains the difference between people meeting people and how dogs greet one another.  Learning our companions language can help us have safer, more loving interactions.

When people first meet one another for the first time, we walk directly towards each other with hand extended looking one another directly in the eyes.

Now when dogs meet each other for the first time, they avoid direct eye contact, usually approach from the side and smell one another to get to know each other better.  Scent is a big indicator of what is happening in each dog’s world.

A misunderstanding may occur when a person meets a new dog for the first time and reaches out his or her hand and looks the dog in the eyes.  Coming directly at a dog, with hand extended with eye contact is actually a sign of aggression to a dog.  You can see how a miscommunication might occur.  For the person, it is a harmless handshake, but for the dog, it is an act of dominance.

The best way for people to meet new dogs is to stand on the side of the dog and allow the dog to choose whether he or she wants to say hello.  If the dog approaches, allow him/her to smell your foot or leg.  If the dog feels comfortable you can then open your hand and give the back of your hand to the dog to smell.

Now we can make better meeters and greeters for our canine companions!  That is 5 Paws Up! 😉