From an early age we are conditioned to look at, talk to or pet dogs. Our Dads and Moms while pushing us in our strollers, would alert us to every dog walking nearby, saying “there’s a doggie”, “look at the doggie”, what a nice doggie”, “wanna pet the doggie?” These are just some of the things I hear parents say while I’m out training the dogs. Parents want to teach children what things are, and dogs are the perfect thing for parents to point out, because humans love animals. So it’s understandable that as adults, many of us are programmed to greet dogs on the street or at least say something to them like: “Oh what a nice doggie” or “Hi, little puppy”, “What an adorable dog”, etc..
In my many years observing people and their reaction when they see a dog, there is never a time when someone would just pet a dog without uttering a sound. When dogs greet other dogs, they don’t use an excited tone or words to greet each other, it’s all non-verbal but very communicative body signals. Dogs can read our body signals, but when we pet and talk to them excitedly, we’re going to elicit a reaction from them and if it’s a young dog or a dog the owner already has trouble controlling, they may start to nip or jump on you. The owner then gets embarrassed and of course you tell them “oh, it’s okay- I don’t mind” but the owner is thinking, uh, I do mind!
Think “Dog Whispering”
Every once in a while, especially if you have a very excitable dog or puppy, try to pet them without making a sound. You’ll find it difficult at first; remember you’ve been conditioned as a baby to greet them excitedly. But still try it. When you pet a dog in a calm manner and without making a sound, you’ll notice a more bonding connection; they will respond to your touch in a much calmer way, usually with their eyes rolling in ecstasy in the back of their head. Plus you’ll be helping the owners -out there- from feeling embarrassed, and the dog because the owner will take them out a lot more.
Personally when I get a massage, I don’t like when the masseur is chatting away, if they “Don’t speak” I can focus on the reward I so well deserve.
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