Polite Interaction With Dogs

Learn the best and safest ways to pet and play with dogs. 

Introduction - Read This First!

In this lesson we’re going to show you some of the ways that dog body language and communication are different that a human’s. Sometimes even if you think you’re being friendly and playful with a dog, they may be scared of you or even intimidated. It’s important to learn how to “speak dog“!

Overview Video: How To Pet A Dog

Signs That A Dog Is Comfortable​

Signs that a dog is comfortable include the way they’re breathing with an open relaxed mouth, “loose” body movement, and especially walking up to you instead of hiding behind other things. Read up on the lesson of HAPPY DOG BODY LANGUAGE for more information, but here’s a quick review. 

Signs That A Dog Is NOT Comfortable​

Signs that a dog is uncomfortable could include looking way too “stiff” and concerned, staring at something like they’re worried (with mouth closed instead of relaxed panting), or other nervous behaviors like scratching or licking themselves a lot. Here’s a few examples, but more information can be found in the SCARED BODY LANGUAGE lesson. 

Can You Hug And Kiss Dogs? ​

Dogs generally don’t like being held around the chest – it can be very stressful for them and they may feel trapped. Remember that any dog can bite of they feel scared and cornered. While you may know how your own dog reacts to being hugged and kissed, with new dogs you just met it’s safer to not try to hold them too hard and you should ALWAYS make sure to ask their owners what their dog is comfortable with. 

Raising Your Puppy To Like Human Attention​

If you’ve just adopted a puppy, one of your main goals is to raise them to be happy and friendly. This also means raising them to be comfortable with the “weird” things that people do, like hugging them, playing with their ears, and more. While this may sound silly, the lesson on SOCIALIZATION will tell you more about all the different things you need to show your puppy in the first few months of having them. For a quick review, the following video shows some of the things you should do with your puppy to raise them to be friendly and sociable. 

Other Things Dogs Don't Like​

Dogs can be just like humans in a lot of ways. They don’t like it when people:

Scream near them,
Take their food and chew toys(more in RESOURCE GUARDING),
Hug them (unless they are VERY comfortable with you)

How To Give Treats and Petting To New Dogs


Now to put everything together. Here is how you avoid all the situations mentioned above that can scare dogs. Putting all the pieces together should look something like this.

Don't Hover!

Dogs can be scared when strangers are higher up than them, so people can be intimidating because they’re so tall. When approach a new dog, it can help to kneel down on one leg to help them get to know you.

Don't Look Directly In Their Eyes

Dogs are different than people. Humans look each other in the eyes as a sign of respect, but dogs doing this can be a sign of intimidation. If you are looking into your own dog’s eyes with love, it’s normal, but looking into the eyes of a new dog who may be scared of you will only make them more scared.

Hand Out To Sniff

When meeting a new dog for the first time, it’s best to let them sniff you first by putting your hand out instead of going above their head to pet. When meeting new dogs, try to scratch their chin before trying to pet their head.

Still Have Questions?

Still Have Questions?

Ask About Anything Not Covered In This Lesson

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