This blog is written in response to a reader request. Thank you for the blog topic!
In this blog, I'm going to share tips for getting to know a new dog, whether it's your own, or you are meeting a friend's dog for the first time.
To start off, when you are introduced to the new dog, don't immediately try to pet it, especially on the head. Many dogs will shy away from this. A few dogs will do it because they have been hit, but I think that most dogs are just naturally shy about their heads. Instead, offer your hand for the dog to smell. If the dog backs away, do not follow it. Do not stare at it (this is a threat to a dog). It's helpful to also kneel down to the dog's level.
A word of warning: NEVER put your face near the face of a strange dog! Never try to grab a dog you don't know! I've seen many bites happen this way.
Watch for the dog's body language. If the dog is cowering or growling, back off. If the tail is wagging and the ears are up (for prick eared dogs), generally the dog is curious about you and wants to get to know you. If you watch the dog's nose, you will see that it's going a mile a minute. This is good as the dog is trying to get your scent and the smells in his surroundings.
Frightened dogs can be fear biters so be very slow and methodical when confronting a new dog.
After the dog has smelled you and seems open to interaction, you can try to pet it. Stay away from the head and face...try petting the body or scratching the dog's rump. You can offer the dog a treat if it's your own dog. Don't try to feed other people's dogs without their permission. Some dogs have food allergies.
If it's a dog you just brought home he might be a little wary of the new surroundings. Dogs in general like everything to stay the same....their food bowl in the same place, etc. Allow your dog to spend some time getting to know her new environment. She will sniff around and look at things closely. Dogs get most of their information from their nose, however, so sniffing is important.
Talk to your new dog. Show him where the food is, and where his bed is. Give him lots of love in the first few days, and talk softly. Don't start disciplining right away; use only positive reinforcement. If your dog is a shelter dog he may have had negative experiences in his life, so be calm and gentle.
If the dog rolls over on his or her back, this is a sign of submission. It can also be a sign of fear, so be gentle and slow in your movements. Dogs that are terrified of human interaction (such as some shelter dogs) had best be left to a professional trainer first.
With time and patience, you can be friends with just about any dog.
Love and Light, Georgia