Good Owner’s Guide to Greeting Your Dog

Two cute pugs wait for their human to return home. (Photo:
Two cute pugs wait for their human to return home.

When coming home from a long day at work, do you ignore your pup until he has settled down or do you squeal and jump around the mudroom with him? Perhaps there’s a happy medium. Whether you’ve been gone for a short or long period of time, the way you greet your dog matters.

A published study emphasizes the importance of touching between humans and their dogs when greeting each other after a period of separation.  The study, conducted by researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, found that dogs are happiest (and continue being happy) when their owner greets them by voice and touch. Alternatively, the study found that dogs are least happy (with higher stress levels) when their owner ignores them when returning home.

Next time you greet your dog, follow these three steps to keep your pooch happy and stress free:

1. Acknowledge your pup. When you first encounter your pup, recognize and greet him with eye contact. Acknowledgement can go a long way.

 2. Speak don’t shriek. Your four-legged BFF is excited to reunite with you, but your own excited squealing will only amp-up (and potentially alarm) your pup more. Try using a calm but happy voice to greet your dog instead.

 3. Give your doggie a rub down. Just as humans adore (and sometimes need) hugs, dogs need that same emotional and physical connection. Petting allows us as owners to bond with our pup (Bonus: Petting has been proven to lower stress hormones in dogs). So next time you return home, show your pup some love: scratch behind his ear, rub his stomach, or gently pat him on his head.

Pro Tip: Always take into consideration your dog’s age and personality and cater these tips to fit your own pups needs; some dogs benefit most from a calm entry with no touch and no talking until they calm down. Plus, if your doggie suffers from separation anxiety, please consult your vet or a pet behaviorist on how best to greet your SA dog.

— Emily Kulich

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