introduce yourself

The Right Way to Introduce Yourself to a New Dog

Are you one of those people who call yourself a dog person because of your unconditional and unconstrained love for dogs, but still you have to face scenarios where you have to run for your life because a dog is trying to attack you? If so, then you must read this guide.

Whenever we see a dog, there’s this switch that goes off in our head and it becomes one of the cutest creatures for us on the planet. But do dogs see us the same way? Maybe or maybe not. There’s one thing that’s sure. Your actions around a dog matter a lot if you want to play with it or be friends with it. In this guide, you’ll learn the right way to introduce yourself to a new dog.

Different dogs, different traits

Just like humans, different dogs have different personalities and temperament. All dogs are not the same. There are dogs that like meeting new people and are friendly around other dogs. On the other hand, there are those dogs who will try to bite you the first chance they get (there’s usually a reason behind it). That’s why it is important to study the dog’s behavior before approaching one. Now, it doesn’t mean you have to take out an encyclopedia and read about the personality of that breed. If the dog has an owner, then ask the owner about the dog and see if it’s okay to play with it. And if it’s a stray dog, then stay where you are and make the dog approach you rather than rushing towards it.

Remember, that dogs are usually alert when someone is approaching them and can detect any threat from far away. If they see you as a threat, then they will definitely try to defend themselves by barking or attacking you. To avoid that, always come out as a friendly person and give them their space. If the dog is interested then it will make the first move towards you, and if not then try to get its attention some other time when the dog is calm.

Don’t rush

It goes without saying that if you want to be friends with someone, you can’t rush into it. You have to give it some time and put effort into it. The same thing applies for dogs too. If you want to befriend a dog, you really have to be patient. If you meet a dog, you have to respect that dog’s personal space and also be as patient as possible. And if the dog sniffs you or tries to interact then gently rub its back and avoid touching its face. Also, make sure that you don’t look directly into its eyes. In humans, looking into the eyes is an essential part of communication and builds trust. That’s not the case in dogs. If you stare at a dog, the dog can take it as a threat, which can trigger aggressive behavior. Try to avoid making eye contact while introducing yourself to the dog.

How to know if a dog is aggressive?

Even though dogs are one of the friendliest creatures on this planet, there can be exceptions. A dog can show signs of fear-induced aggression. This happens when they feel threatened. Regardless of the fact that a dog is afraid, a lot of people still run towards or away from the dog, making the situation worse. The thing is to understand the psychology of animal in such situations. You can tell if a dog is aggressive if it shows signs mentioned below:

  1. Making direct eye contact
  2. Exposed teeth
  3. Lunging
  4. Growling
  5. Raised hackles

These are some signs that you can look out for in a dog that is aggressive and may attack. Obviously it isn’t true for all dogs. Some dogs hide their tail between their hind legs and try to avoid making eye contact by looking downward when threatened. This doesn’t mean that the dog is not hostile. Usually, when a dog shows these signs, try to avoid touching the dog as there are high chances that it will bite.

The right ways to make an approach

The question still remains the same, “How to befriend a dog?” When you come across a dog, there are certain rules you need to follow in order to come out as a friend to an unknown dog. Some of the basic rules are:

  1. Be calm and let the dog sniff you. Also, don’t touch the dog while it’s sniffing as the dog can perceive you as a threat.
  2. Avoid making any direct eye contact. If the dog is looking directly into your eyes, then try to look away so that the dog knows that you aren’t going to attack it.
  3.  While reaching out to a new dog, make a fist so that your fingers aren’t exposed. This goes for aggressive dogs too. If a dog is trying to attack you, then hide your fingers as they are prone to dog bites.
  4. Never bend over the dog while introducing yourself. This can make the dog uncomfortable. Try to squat while making physical contact. This way you’ll be on the same level as the dog and it’s a better way to play and make contact with the dog.
  5. It’s always best to ask the owner before making any contact with the dog so that you don’t offend anyone. It also helps you in knowing the dog’s behavior. If the owner denies you, then don’t get disheartened as there must be some reason behind it.

The protocols given above are very general and should always be kept in the back of the head before introducing yourself to a dog. There are other things that count, but as you follow these steps, you’ll become more aware of the dog’s body language and it will help you in making the right approach.


Willie Mays is a housewife, good mother, pet lover and blogger who has written for DGP previously.  Her aim is to help other pet owners by sharing her experiences and from that perspective she recently wrote about flea dip for dogs in her blog.

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