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The scenario happens all the time: a cutedog out for a walk grabs the attention of a canine-loving passerby. If you have a furry friend yourself, you’re probably very familiar with this encounter. It’s inevitable; people love dogs! We’re not here to change that. But there are a few things to know that will make the exchange easier on both ends…

If you’re the dog-loving passerby:

If you see a dog you absolutely must say hello to, asking permission from the owner is the required first step. No skipping this one! Remember: even if a dog looks friendly, it’s respectful (and wise) to approach the human before approaching the dog. Not only is it good etiquette, but it also sets the tone for the interaction. This article (LINK to Ny mag article) makes a great point: If the dog sees his owner comfortable and relaxed, he’s more likely to be comfortable with you, too.

Another tip we’d add: Sometimes, dogs feel on edge when they’re leashed. Instead of reaching towards them, let them approach you by tapping your thigh and speaking in a friendly, cheerful manner, turning your body slightly to the side. Always let the dog call the shots!

And if you’re the owner:

Look to your furry pal for cues: if she seems relaxed, curious, or initiates the greeting herself, she may up for it. If you have a dog that loves treats, have those on hand for people who want to meet her. Lastly, it’s always okay to politely decline, especially if you have a timid or shy canine. Meeting a stranger can be overwhelming, especially for pups that need time to warm up. Don’t ever feel bad about that!