Trainer shares two things you should never do when you meet a dog for the first time

Man and woman petting dog in the park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram video cited below.

If you're a huge animal lover like we are, then any opportunity to pet or cuddle a dog is no doubt one you can't wait to seize. 

But while our four-legged friends are undeniably adorable, when encountering a strange dog for the first time, it's important to proceed with caution.

Expert trainer Adam Spivey says he sees people making the same two mistakes over and over again when they come face to face with a new dog — and these mistakes are problematic for several reasons.

Read on as Spivey explains the two things you should never do when you meet a strange dog and why avoiding them could be the answer to everything from how to stop a dog jumping up to preventing dog aggression

According to Spivey, the first thing you want to stop is baby talking the dogs that you meet. 

Baby talk may seem harmless, but Spivey says it can over-excite a lot of dogs and lead to undesirable behaviors.

"Baby talk if a dog is nervous causes them to get very suspicious and they can back away or it can start to make them react.

"If the dog is a happy-go-lucky dog, baby talk is very quickly going to excite them which can lead them to jumping up or even puppy biting," he explains.

The other thing you want to avoid doing is sticking your hand out for a dog to sniff when you meet them for the first time.

"Sticking your hand in the face of a dog actually looks like you're trying to touch them, so you might get away with it with a happy-go-lucky dog but again, if that dog is nervous and they think you're trying to touch them they'll either back away or snap at your hand."

Spivey goes on to offer a bonus tip, advising us to steer clear of crouching down to a dog's level when you don't know them because if the dog does panic and react, the place you'll get bit is your face.

"What you actually want to do if you're meeting a strange dog is to let that dog sniff you and you do not touch that dog, speak to that dog, or interact with that dog in any way until that dog has finished sniffing you," Spivey stresses. 

If the dog sniffs you and walks away, take that as a sign the dog isn't that into you. But if it sits down nicely and the owner is okay with it, Spivey says it's okay to give the dog a stroke in a non-threatening and calm manner. 

Follow Spivey's tips above and you'll help keep yourself safe around strange dogs.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.