By Tuesday, October 2, 2018 6 No tags Permalink

What are proper pup petting procedures? A question I’ve been asking myself lately…

PROPER PUP PETTING PROCEDURESWe meet dozen’s of people up and down the hallways of the hospital as well as the streets of pet friendly Charleston. Dogs in a hospital are still a novelty to many, so 90% of the people we encounter want to stop and greet the Boys.

Pawhaps it’s the “fluff” that attracts people to them – we are always stopped when we’re out and around town too!

With that said, there seems to be a large population who do not understand what I call –

the proper pup petting procedures.



On any given day people will try to pat Harley’s head…

When this occurs I immediately speak up.

To me, this is the perfect time to kindly/gently educate – right there and then.

I appreciate that people want to spend time with my Boys, but I also don’t ever want them to have a “significant emotional experience” with a dog who lashes out because a human hand tried to descend upon the top of their furry lil’ head.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t care for people to “tower” over them either. I think it’s intimidating and could possibly cause them to feel frightened…

Kneeling down initially makes you less threatening I would think…



  • Greet the human first and ask for permission
  • Avoid eye contact and head-on approaches
  • Never bend over a dog, bend down and let them come to you on his/hers own terms.
  • Offer either a closed fist…
  • or your hand with its palm up…


Go Pet Friendly shares 11 tips for greeting a strange dog. If you’re looking for additional information, I would recommend book-marking this one.

Have you ever corrected someone greeting your pup for the first time?

Don’t wait for the perfect moment – take the moment and make it perfect❤️

  • Kristin Clark
    October 2, 2018

    I absolutely have!! My dog Barkley can be incredibly reactive. He’s much better now, but definitely not “bomb proof”, and we’ve spent a lot of time (years) getting to the point we’re at now. I can’t tell you the number of people who just assume they can pet him without asking first, lunge toward him, slap a hand down on his head, staring at him the whole time. One woman moved so fast she grabbed his cheeks and gave him a kiss on his nose before I could stop her. I think Barkley was in too much shock, but that easily could’ve resulted in her getting her face bit. So, I’ve gotten very good at getting in between overzealous people and Barkley, explaining that they have to ask permission before petting a strange dog (Especially true for little kids), and then explaining how to do it. And one other thing that shocks me is how many people ask if they can pet him, but then completely ignore me or get angry if I say no. It’s baffling, since I tell them I’m saying no for their safety! And usually I have the whole gang with me, so I even offer to let them pet Elle, who is the sweetest little peanut ever. I feel like saying “take the win, people!” Mind blowing. Thanks for writing this post. There needs to be a lot more awareness about this topic.

  • caren gittleman
    October 2, 2018

    Thanks for this pawfect post! I get so aggravated when people with kids approach Dakota because they always do it the WRONG way!

  • Monika & Sam
    October 2, 2018

    As a fellow pet therapy team, we encounter peeps who go for the pat on the head first thing too. It’s not easy trying to re-educate diplomatically. And then there are those well meaning folks who deliberately try to get the leg scritch going when they have found ‘that’ spot. People don’t seem to realize it’s a reflex move trying to get them to stop doing what’s causing it. Sigh.

  • Emma
    October 3, 2018

    We are such people lovers, most of the time we greet the people before they have a chance to think about greeting us. For dogs who are shy, or easily frightened it would be important to always keep an eye on how people approach. I’m sure you and the boys do well at the hospital training everyone.

  • Lindsay
    October 4, 2018

    With two fluff heads in our household, too, people always want to go for their bouffant heads, towering over them. Charlie doesn’t mind so much but Baxter has a few scary experiences and he’s lashed out before, so I always tell people to say hello to the lovebug Charles, and ignore Baxter. Let him come to you. He’ll tolerate me scruffing on him but he prefers his chest neck scratched. Or a bum scratch, who doesn’t love that? Lol

  • Jan K
    October 23, 2018

    I think it’s just a habit for a lot of people….it’s still my instinct to pat a dog on the head. But I do better now about approaching from the side and if they want to be patted, I do so on the side of the face, or scratch under their chin. I think you’re right that kneeling down would really be the best approach.
    Luke does not like to be patted on the head, and I even forget with him sometimes! He has a look he gives me to remind me though. LOL