Wednesday, 16 November 2011


I hate to quash the whole ‘speak in a cute voice and energetically pat the dog on the head’ greeting - but yes, please stop doing that! 

I am so cute, but please don't overwhelm my senses!
If you really love dogs, start greeting dogs in a way that is good for them. Greet them in a way that respects their nature rather than in a manner formed of human conceit. You will find that greeting a dog the right way is even more enjoyable…but you have to train yourself first!

The best way to greet a dog that you have no previous acquaintance with is to greet it as another dog would - were the two dogs to great as dogs naturally do (not having been taught by humans to greet with excitement!). 

A normal dog to dog greeting is not a meeting of overt excitement; instead it is a meeting of nose to scent...they sniff each other!

A dog has +/- 300 million olfactory sensors in their nose...we humans come in much behind with a measly 3 million. When a dog sniffs another dog it receives a plethora of is a feast for their senses, for their mind. 

Allow the dog to come up to you and use their nose to sniff you…while you stand calmly, quietly…no talk, no touch, no look at the dog…feel free to talk to the dog’s human though! You are physically greeting the dog - just not in a human way.

When you first meet us please greet us with respect
Once the dog has had its opportunity to satisfy its natural need to explore with its nose, and the dog is calm, then it is time to touch the dog. I usually suggest the touch should be under their chin in slow quite strokes - and still do not talk to the dog. This is contrary to what most people do - they go to pat the dog on top of the head, and that is not so pleasant for the dog! You do not need to talk, that is another human conceit - the dog is sensitive and knows you are enjoying the interaction. Be like the dog and just enjoy the moment in peace. 


Because my dogs (all ten) said so! But on a more serious note...

Think of the human dynamic, do you like the sensation of someone you do not know (or even someone you do know!) reaching OVER TOP of you, invading your space and patting you on the head...nope! Most of us humans do not like that...nor do our dogs.

Placement of any part of your body on top / over a dog can take on a very dominating overtone. When dogs greet each other like this it can spark a dog-to-dog fight!

Gently, touching, massaging a dog under the chin is not shows respect, consideration and is very enjoyable for most dogs. Even a dog that is shy, trepidations and uncertain will often be amenable to such a touch.

When you walk up to a dog and you are excited in voice and touch with unrestrained and inconsiderate energy you are…
-       Being disrespectful;
-       Flooding the dog with sensory overload - audible, tactile, psychological.

To better understand, just think how you would feel should your senses be as acute as a dog's and someone came up to you and behaved as you do to the dog...ah huh, now you see.

So, the next time you greet a dog you do not know think about this and greet the dog by allowing him to sniff talk, no touch, no look, and then patiently, quietly, gently stroke the underside of the dogs will find this 'feels' for you and the dog so much better as you have shared a greeting the right way. Enjoy.

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld 

Please note - this article is for information purposes and is not a substitute for an in-person Session with me. When working with dogs I use many techniques - it is important to note that this article may touch on one or several techniques but not all. I select the technique that I use for a particular dog based on my observations of the dog and an intuitive, instinctive assessment of that dog's and its human's individual requirements. For example when I am working with a dog that is hyper sensitive and very physically reactive I will not use voice or touch. I use a lot of therapeutic touch on some dogs, others require the use of herding techniques and so on. Each and every technique must be combined with:
  • an understanding of the real intelligence, sensitivity and capability of dogs;
  • an understanding of how to read a dog's face and a dog's overall body language;
  • an understanding of the full spectrum of ways that humans communicate and dogs communicate; 
  • understanding and recognition of the individual that is each dog - no two dogs are the same...taking a 'cookie cutter' approach to techniques is not the way to work with a dog;
  • a complete recognition and understanding of all the elements that feed a behaviour and create an issue:
    •  the vast majority of people can only identify one or two elements...which vastly inhibits the ability to resolve behavior issues;
    • behaviours do not exist in isolation - there are always many elements that feed a single behaviour, there all always multiple behaviours that create a behavioral issue;
  • self-restraint and discipline on the part of the human who is directing the dog;
  • sensitivity, awareness, intuition, instinct and timing on the part of the human who is directing the dog;
    • to understand, connect with and adapt quickly and effectively to a dog's learning requirements you must be able to employ the same tools a dog uses - acute sensitivity, awareness, instinct, intuition and timing;
  • kindness, endurance, consideration, patience, persistence, perspective, the ability and know how to let the past go, the ability to set realistic expectations at any one point in time;
  • the creation of structure, rules, boundaries and limitations for each situation at the macro and micro level;
  • understanding of all the elements that make up an instruction and direction to a dog...there are multiple steps involved in an instruction - not just one!
  • absolute honesty - if you cannot be honest with yourself you will not be able to communicate clearly with a dog.
These are just some of the techniques that I teach my clients - it is a holistic, all-encompassing approach. If you are missing any one element of the above mentioned your success rate will be affected to one degree or another in implementing the techniques offered in the article presented above.

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Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

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Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats