Many people believe that the best way to introduce oneself to a pup is by extending one’s hand towards the dog’s face to allow sniffing.
Naturally, extending hands is a sign of friendship to someone we just met, so we tend to do it with dogs too when we meet them for the first time.
But many experts are now warning that this form of introduction called “Sniff Test” is not the best way to go when meeting a new pooch.
A viral Facebook post from Eureka Dog Services, a reputable dog training company, asked readers to stop doing “The Sniff Test” when meeting new dogs because it is a bad habit that is wrongly instilled in the mind of people in the society, without a clear understanding of their action.
The company asks readers to use their manners instead of doing the “Sniff Test.”
When you reach out towards a dog, you are not giving the dog enough time to assess whether you’re safe and whether they need further investigation to pick your information.
“You are forcing an interaction that normally requires some time to develop. This is quite rude to some dogs and they tend to snap or bite you”- wrote Eureka Dog Service.
During the “Sniff Test,” most dogs will run away, freeze, or nip. These are signs that the dog is nervous, and your extended hand makes the situation worse.
What should we do Instead?
You need to first ask for permission from the dog owner before approaching a dog. It is impolite to walk up to the dog and extend your hand without the owner’s approval. This makes the dog uncomfortable and the environment cold.
More so, the dog could be working on training or scared of humans, so you should talk to the family first, even if all dogs seem to love you.
And after getting approval from the dog owner, you still need to be careful. You might make the dog become so tensed when you move directly towards them, so try to be more passive.
Give the dog a chance to decide whether they want to meet you or not. Most times, they will sniff you on their own terms, so let the dog come to you.
Again, it is not far-fetched that when you know other people’s body language, you tend to communicate better. In this case, the dog’s language is based on facial expressions and body language.
So, you can turn your face and your body at a 45-degree angle and give the dog a warm smile.
Another smart way to build friendship and make a dog feel safe around you is to meet them with a yummy treat to offer. However, it should be done with the permission of the owner.
That said, it is important to keep your hands away from a dog’s head when you’re touching them for the first time.
Dog parents on their part should endeavor to take control of their dog whenever strange faces are around. You shouldn’t allow your dog to be around other people if you know your dog won’t be comfortable.
If you want your dog to get used to people, you should try to encourage them by rewarding them with a treat when they stay calm. You can say things like “friend” in a relaxing manner to keep your dog comfortable.
However, you have to ensure you are cautious when communicating with dogs because it can be tricky sometimes.
Let them sniff you
Keep your fist closed and allow the dog to sniff you to assess your scent. If they seem okay with you after sniffing, you can probably pat them on their neck, shoulder, or chest, which is less threatening than petting the dog’s butt or the top of their head.
However, if the dog backs away from you when you get closer to it, you obviously want to stop getting close and move on. It’s a sign that the dog is not into you.
You need to take heed because dogs will always give you signs that they’re not interested in interacting with you.
So if they turn or move away from you, it’s in your best interest for you to say goodbye and move on.
Do not “Baby-talk”
Using baby talks might have worked on babies, but it may not work on new dogs. So don’t even try to introduce yourself to a new dog using a baby voice. You have to let the dog get accustomed to you and your ways before doing that.
More so, using a baby voice will make the dog think you are weak and may want to attack or even jump on you.
Smaller dogs like the Shiba Inu Husky mixes or Shitzus may tempt you to try baby-talk but don’t. Those dogs might look so small in size but they might get defensive if you don’t build a friendly atmosphere with them first.
How to read a dog’s body language
You might have the belief that if a dog seems cool with you smothering it with love, that it’s a good sign of friendship. But that’s not true. As a matter of fact, many are just tolerating that act. Some might snap at you or bite you if you get too close.
If you observe closely, you would observe that even your dog might not like physical affection or a hug.
Most times dogs aren’t really shy, but they are expressive — you just need to watch out for signs.
Here are some warning signs that your pup is not approachable at the moment:
Ear position: If the dog’s ears are erect and facing forward, they could be aggressive or interested. When the ears are flat against the head, they’re submissive or scared.
A tucked tail: Sometimes when dogs wag their tail, it doesn’t mean they’re happy. If the tail is wagging still and slow, the dog is probably staying alert. But when their tail is tucked and wagging, that’s a clear sign of submission and fear.
Side eye: Dogs that show the white parts of their eyes are stressed, so try to read the signs.
Best Practices to keep in mind when meeting new dogs
You need to keep these few tips in mind when meeting a new dog:
- Give the dog some time to adjust, even if it will take several visits.
- Take permission and speak calmly with the pet owner before attempting to approach the dog. However, allow the dog to show you good signs of friendship.
- Watch out for any signs of stress in the dog. Once you notice they are upset or their body language becomes aggressive, make sure you cease contact immediately. If you notice a stranger trying to pet your dog, tell the person to quit trying as soon as your dog becomes uncomfortable.
Dogs are lovable and cute, and it’s understandable that you may want to build friendship quickly with a new dog, hence, try the “sniff test” on them. But unfortunately, many dogs consider it rude and may attack you badly. So stop the “sniff test,” try to take permission from the dog owner, allow the dog to show you sign that they are comfortable around you, and give them time to get close to you.