Dog Etiquette: Proper Greeting and Introducing Dogs to Other Animals

As I've moved in with two of my best friends. One thing we had to do was get all the animals to meet each other. As well as the dogs haven't met each of us. So I thought today would be a perfect day to chat about that on the blog. So last night was the night we decided it was time to do that as only one of the pets had been in the house previously. My dog, Pixie, is a very timid and not always the most friendliest of dogs when we first introduce her to others. Either she's barking or growling at people, or in defensive attack mode towards other dogs especially dogs smaller than her. And cats are a thing she's never met. So introducing Pixie to Kiki (Cairn Terrier) owned by Harley (yes, I formerly called her Kiki in this blog but figured that would be confusing now that I'm living with both so she will now be known as Harley after Harley Quinn) and Toulouse (Tabby Cat) owned by Ariel was going to be a challenge.

Understanding a Dog's Body Language

Credit: Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM

Credit: Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM

Dogs use body language to communicate and only resort to growling or barking as well as biting if their body language is being ignored. When greeting dogs they will cower if they are fearful, but not always. They could do anything of the items in the image from Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM as well. Another body language that you can really tell a dog is stressed out is if their fur is standing up on their back and neck. If you do not pay attention to your own dog or another dog's body language they will go to growling and barking then lastly to biting if all else fails. And you do not want to ever get to that last stage. As it leads to a lot of dogs being put down for humans not listening to a dog signaling others to back off.

Proper Greeting for Dogs

Closed hand with palm facing up method

Closed hand with palm facing up method

Closed fist method

Closed fist method

As Pixie is a very timid dog, using proper greetings or dog etiquette is essential. Always ask the owner if it is ok to greet the dog. Then wait until the dog comes to you as that way it is on their terms and they will be less likely to react negatively. Next hold out your hand in either a closed fist or a closed hand with palm facing up. Allow the dog to sniff your hand then you can pet it under the chin or on it's chest. A lot of dogs do not like being pet on the top of the head. Pixie is one of them. She'll allow it sometimes but not always.

Introducing Dogs to Other Animals

Pixie on left and Kiki on right

Pixie on left and Kiki on right

Best tip I always have when having dogs meet each other is to first show your little one see that you are friends with the other animal. We did this with Kiki and Pixie, both took to it really well. Then we had to make sure that Kiki was settled and calm as well as allowed Pixie to sniff her so Pixie wouldn't become stressed out about the situation. After that I pet Kiki again and Pixie went to Harley. Eventually Pixie went over to Kiki and the two started playing. Throughout the entire time, we were praising the dogs for behaving and being nice. Now the two play and follow each other around.

Next it was time to introduce both Pixie and Kiki to Toulouse. And Pixie has only ever met one cat briefly that was named Clover and belonged to my best friend from college, Kat. That interaction went well as I did a similar thing as I did when introducing Pixie to Kiki. So I was hoping a similar thing would happen when introducing Pixie to Toulouse. One thing to note, Clover had met dogs before but Toulouse has never met or seen a dog before. Cats need to be introduced to dogs a lot differently.

For starters, you do have them go sniff each other. You do let them smell each other through items in your house that they have interacted with. Then you slowly get them to start getting used to the sight of the other. Harley and I kept the dogs on their leases while we sat with them on the couch as Toulouse slowly worked up his courage to explore around the new house. Over the course of the night, Pixie went from being scared to curious to I want to make friends with Toulouse. Toulouse on the other hand has gone from "where the hell am I?" to "I'm cautiously curious about the new place" to "I'll go look at the dogs from a distant." Which in our books is a win on all sides.

We're hoping for things to continue to get better as time goes on. Our goal one day is to take a picture with all three of them laying next to each other... that might be a while.

What are some of your tips for greeting dogs or introducing them to other animals? I would love to hear about it. Especially as I'm not overly familiar with proper introduction when it comes to cats and dogs. As I've only ever had dogs and the only things I know are from a quick Google search so I didn't stress out the whole evening.