How to Greet and Say “Hi” to Dogs

A hand petting a golden retriever on the head and saying "Hi".
Be gentle with me

Who doesn’t want to greet and say hi to all the smooshie dog faces?

Dog loving people love to greet and say hi to all the dogs they pass. But what is the proper way of greeting a dog that doesn’t know you?

There are many things you should consider and do before approaching a dog whether they are on a walk with their owner or running around loose. 

Number 1 rule is to always ask the owner if you can pet their dog. This gives the owner time to tell you yes or no.

Most owners will probably tell you yes, but there are owners that will tell you to please not pet their dog because of behavior issues or if they are a medical dog (dogs that signal to their owners if there is a medical problem about to happen to their owner). These dogs have a jog and can’t have disruption from monitoring the owner.

If allowed to pet the dog, please do so in a calming manner. Many dogs get riled up and will start behaving badly.

Here is an example of saying “Hi” and petting an unknown dog:

  • You may hold out your hand in a fist with the back of your hand facing the dog. This gives the dog time to get your scent.
  • With smaller dogs, you can crouch down to their level so it’s less threatening to the dog.
  • While most people pet dogs on the top of the head, the best place to pet them is on the chest. This is a less threatening way because they can see where your hand is going.
  • It’s alright to talk to the dog in a normal or “baby talk” voice. 

Finding A Lost Dog

If a dog comes to you without an owner around, stay calm and talk to the dog in a low comforting voice. Let the dog approach you. If you try to approach first, it may scare the dog away.

Let them sniff you and you may try to put your hand out with the back of it facing the dog to let them sniff your hand. If the dog seems comfortable, you may crouch to show that you are not a threat. You may pet on the chest if the dog seems calm. *DO NOT PET A DOG THAT IS GROWLING OR BARING ITS TEETH AT YOU*

A dachshund in a mailbox. Say hi to the lost dog and send them home!
“Please send me back to my family!”

You check the collar (if there’s one) to see if they belong to somebody. Call the number on their tags to tell the owner that you have their dog right then.

If there is no collar, the next step is take them to a veterinary clinic or shelter nearby to see if the dog has a microchip (This is a little chip that gets implanted in the back that will have information on the owner.)

If the dog has neither collar tags or microchip, post found dog signs and posts on any social media.

Many laws state that when you find a dog loose, you should take it to a shelter where they will hold onto the dog for 7 days for claiming. Be sure to read on the laws in your state. 

Dog standing in the middle of a neighborhood in the fall with leaves falling looking around for a human to greet and say hi to.
“Not all that wonder are lost. BUT, I think I’m lost!”

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