Great fun for us - but how about the dog?
Well, when we greet a dog in this hyper, reactive manner we can really overwhelm a dog’s senses! We also teach the dog to be overly excited, anxious and even fearful. We teach by example, the wrong example. We de-normalize the experience of greeting.
And then, when visitors come over, frustration reigns supreme as the dog rushes to the door, and takes over the space, barking and jumping all over guests.
And when a dog is introduced to another dog by its human - more excited voices and encouragement to be instantaneously energized! And when the greeting is too much for the other dog, a growl or snap ensues, the humans get tense and viola! The excited dog has just had its first lesson in how to become tense, reactive-nervous, around other dogs.
Did you know…
We have about 3 million olfactory sensors in our noses. Dogs have +/- 300 million! Dogs in their natural state (not having been influenced otherwise by humans) like to greet each other by simply approaching each other and using their noses to smell each other. That is a normal, respectful, social greeting in the dog world!
So what should we do instead, and can we learn to enjoy our dogs and greeting situations in the absence of excitement - you bet!
Instead imagine this greeting…
Walk up to the dog quietly, calmly - see its beautiful physical form, see the expression in his/her face, and eyes.
Observe quietly, while the dog enjoys the silence and uses his/her nose to gently snuffle, while he/she takes in all the scents on your clothing, your shoes.
Each scent tells the dog where you have been, what you have seen and touched - it is an adventure, a bouquet of scents for the dog to enjoy in peace.
You quietly watch, while enjoying the graceful movement of the dog’s gently swishing tail, swirls of soft fur, pretty ears and eyes - just look quietly, don't touch, don't talk.
The dog is finished sniffing, you were calm and quiet, so the dog is calm and quiet.
You reach under its chin and firmly, gently with slow pressure stoke the underside of its neck, luxuriating in the velvety soft fur.
This relaxes you, and allows you to enjoy the sunlight and the soft warmth of the dog’s fur.
You just shared a quiet, warm, affectionate and deeply profound moment with a gentle sensitive being.
You just respected the dog in the dog.
You just trained yourself.
You put aside everything you have been taught about greeting a dog, you are no longer that human who leads by providing the wrong example.
You are now that human who understands that to love a dog the right way, first from the perspective of the dog, enables the dog to be a happy, fulfilled well balanced canine!
And that is the art of greeting in silence...
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