One of the joys pet lovers share are the greetings and endearments they bestow on pets. The purpose is clear, to show how much they love a pet. Okay pet lover, do you greet your dog by patting your hand on top of his head? Do you shake hand-to-paw? Do you give a big bear hug? If you say yes to any of the above, there’s one more question to be asked. Do you ever think your pet greeting or your display of affection, may not be acceptable or even understood by your dog?
For people, methods and styles of greetings vary widely throughout the world. Some people say hello and offer a handshake. Some greet friends with a kiss on each cheek. Other cultures avoid any physical contact with the opposite sex while it’s commonly accepted for same sex greeters to hug each other. If paying attention to same species greetings is important, you might want to brush up on inter-species communications. For dogs, avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect while looking directly at a dog can lead to misunderstandings. If you were to greet a dog by sticking out your hand and looking directly at his eyes, you might receive a nipping instead of a proper pet greeting.
Expressions by People
Human gestures of affection are not always appreciated by dogs. People feeling the need to kiss, snuggle and hug a dog or lift up a tiny dog for greeting can learn to respect a dog’s personal space. Imagine yourself tensing up with widening eyes and wishing for distance when another person becomes domineering, rudely overbearing, challenging or even threatening.
Dog greetings are brief, simple, natural acts. The arc shape to their initial interaction, the quick sniff and sensing of intention through body language serves to put each other at ease. Telling our dogs that we love them can be easy by respecting their space while offering a touch under their chin, on their chest or at the base of their ear. Dogs will let you know by showing their belly when they want a belly rub.
Teaching Your Dog
Physical touching is just one way to show affection to your dog. Remember learning how dogs thrive with consistent structure and earned attention? An excellent way to communicate your love is through positive reinforcement. Training presents your dog with their favorite form of motivation, whether food, praise, or play. Being with you and having positive rewards, your dog will come to see you as a provider of the things he loves the most. When you both can show tolerance for out of bounds displays of affection, you’re both showing your love for each other.