Teaching our dogs to greet people politely can be a challenge. While some dogs are naturally more polite, many of our dogs have a hard time not jumping on people or doing other things we consider impolite. But what about the flip side? How many people greet dogs politely?

Appropriate dog-to-dog greetings should NOT include direct eye contact, head-on approaches or height-seeking behavior. Yet, how do most people approach dogs? Direct eye contact, head-on and reaching over the dog’s head. Precisely everything we should not be doing.

When you want to pet someone’s dog, always ask first. If someone asks to pet your dog, help them understand HOW they should approach and pet your dog. Approach at an angle or sideways, but not from behind the dog. Avoid prolonged direct eye contact. Some dogs will take this as a challenge, while others will consider it an invitation to interact and cause too much excitement. Reach out your hand slowly and allow the dog to sniff if he wants. When you do pet the dog, do so on his shoulder or chest but not over the top of the head. Try not to lean over the top of the dog’s head. Bend over from the side and reach in, but do not lean over his face.

This is particularly important for children. Even if your dog might enjoy the attention, the next dog a child pets might not. Hugs and kisses should NEVER be given to dogs you do not know very well. Even for dogs you do know well, most do not like being hugged. Always watch for signs of stress in your dog or any dogs you are greeting.

Let’s help our dogs learn to be polite by first setting the example of offering polite greetings ourselves!