It’s a common tactic to try to decode a pet’s body language, but what if we want to talk back? How does the way we hold and carry ourselves communicate to a dog we don’t know well? Here are a few tips to get your messages across loud and clear, without saying a word.
1. Keep your hands to yourself.
When meeting a dog for the first time, it might feel natural to extend your hand, whether it’s to let the dog sniff it or to offer a friendly pat on the head. However, many dogs, and especially a dog who isn’t familiar with you, would really rather you kept your hands to yourself because extending your hand can be perceived as an invasion of space or an act of aggression.
Instead, let the dog come to you and sniff at their leisure. Dogs love to sniff hello, so just relax and let it happen.
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2. Avert your eyes.
When you look a dog in the eyes, they perceive it as a sign of hostility or an attempt to dominate them. If you’ve ever tried to make eye contact with a dog, you might notice that they look away. They are either being polite or submissive to your gaze. It’s best to give the dog the once over without locking eyes.
3. Pet strategically.
While it’s normal to think dogs don’t mind a pat on the head, it’s not quite right, especially as you’re getting to know a dog. As your hand travels above their eyes and out of sight, many dogs start to feel pretty nervous. Instead, keep your hands in plain view, and pet a pup where they can turn their head and see your hand. Many dogs enjoy a good scratch on the rump.
RELATED ARTICLE: 20 Dog Commands You Need to Know
4. Get on your forearms to play.
If you know a dog’s owner well enough to engage in some physical play with their pup, then ask permission first just to rule out the chance their dog has some issues with aggression or rough behavior. If it’s okay, then get down on your forearms with your tush in the air. This is the signal for “Let’s play!” in the dog world. Get ready to rumble!
How do you communicate with your pet? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more.