MYTH: When greeting a new dog, extend your hand towards its face for it to sniff.
FACTS: Dogs don’t sniff each other’s paws when greeting, and similar to us, they prefer to be asked before being touched by a stranger. A dog can smell you from many feet away so you don’t have to put your hand directly up to its nose in order for it to smell you. Holding out your hand in front of a dog’s face can send a negative (non-friend) signal. People often fail to recognize the signals a dog sends to say, “no thanks”, and then touches him or her anyway.
What To Do Instead: Rather than extending your hand for the dog to sniff, ask the dog’s person *first* and then also “ask the dog” by tapping your hand on your thigh (simulating a wagging tail) and remember to act friendly. This relaxes dogs. The dog will then decided to nuzzle you, sniff more to get to know you, or will stay away. This process is beneficial is because it gives the dog a choice. He or she is not forced to interact with you! Would you like to be touched by a stranger, or would like someone to ASK you first so you can choose whether or not you want to interact?
Safety First: Teaching children to reach out at strange dogs can lead to a hand being bitten. Adults and children should start petting the dog on the chest, under the neck or on the shoulders. Never reach over the top of their head to pet them on the head