Passing the Sniff Test

With the holidays upon us, visitors may be entering your home. Don’t be surprised if your dogs isn’t as happy as you are to see them.

Lean to read your dog’s body language.  A wagging tail doesn’t always mean he’s happy.  It can also mean he’s stressed.  A calm dog will have a relaxed posture and swooping, easy tail wags. And anxious dog will have flattened ears, a low or tucked tail, and a crouched, tense posture.greeting dogs 4

Here’s are some tips to remember:

  1. While you’re happily hugging grandma and favorite aunts, don’t presume the dog wants to be hugged.  Actually, many do not like being hugged, especially by people they don’t see often.
  2. Don’t rush up or reach into a dog’s safety zone. Respect his boundaries.  Take Penelope, for example. She shies away when someone new comes into the house. Then, when she’s ready, she approaches and makes friends.
  3. Don’t stare at a dog. When people stare at you, you probably think it’s rude. Dogs find it threatening. Get down on the dog’s level and let him come to you.greeting dogs 2
  4. Don’t loom over the dog and pat its head. A dog may find it scary. When the dog is ready, he’ll come to you. If not, don’t take it personally.
  5. Don’t be rough. Remember when you were little, and that relative with the stinky breath grabbed you and held you too tight. You didn’t like it. Neither does your dog. If he approaches you, pet gently in the same direction as the fur.

And when you’re expecting guests, keep a bag of treats nearby.  Instruct visitors, especially children, to play a game of “Find It”.  Tell them to toss a treat and say “Find it.” When the dog comes back, toss another. Your dog will enjoy this game. And it just might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.greeting dogs treats 2