Whether you are bringing a new dog home to meet the rest of your family, or if you are taking your dog out for a walk, you need to know how to safely introduce anyone to your dog. When you are out in a public place with your dog, it is only natural that children or any other passerby might want to stop and say hi to your pup because he or she is so cute. In the end, you are responsible for your dog’s actions, so you must be ready to instruct the newcomer how to meet the dog in a safe way.
No matter how friendly your dog seems, he or she can feel threatened if approached by a stranger in the wrong way. You must take into consideration the dog’s perspective during a meeting with a stranger or child. The dog may not understand that this person has friendly intent. When a child is extremely excited about touching the dog, what is actually eagerness may be interpreted as aggression from your dog.
When your dog is meeting a child, or any other person, for the first time, instruct that person not to approach the dog. Instead, have the person stand where they are and allow the dog to approach them. Of course, only allow this to happen if the dog does not seem startled or anxious in anyway. By allowing the dog to approach the new person, the dog can feel in control and first sniff and investigate this new friend and become acquainted. Once the dog has shown that he or she is comfortable with the person, it is now safe to pet and interact gently with the dog.
What you must realize is that young children may not ask for your permission before approaching your dog. They may be too excited and run right for the dog, and if your dog is sensitive to new people, this can be a very stressful experience. This is why it is your responsibility as the pet owner to be aware of any children around your dog when you have the dog out in a public space. Until you know how your dog is going to react to new people, any meetings should be kept under control with the help of a leash. Do not let anyone get too close to the dog until you have a good idea of how the dog will react.
If you want to be able to safely take your dog into public without worrying about how they will react to strangers, you can have friends and family members help you with the training process. Ask your friends if they would be willing to help you socialize your dog. If they are happy to help, have them offer your dog a treat from their open hand. On your cue, instruct the dog to approach them and take the treat. Continue this activity with new people until your dog begins to associate meeting strangers with positive rewards. This will help make the experience of meeting strangers less stressful and frightening for your dog in the future.