As a professional pet sitter I am continuously meeting new dogs both while I am out and about and when I go to their homes for a consultation appointment. To ensure that I stay safe and make the right impression on the dog, there are certain things that I do and do not do. These are tips that everyone should keep in mind when meeting a new dog.
1) Never stare into a new dog's eyes. In the canine world, this is a sign of aggression.
2) Let the dog approach you first and give you a good sniff. Dogs perceive the world mostly through their noses and allowing them to smell you gives them a chance to decide if you are okay.
3) Despite what most humans think, dogs generally do not like to be pet on the head. If the dog appears to be friendly and wants you to engage him, scratch him behind the ears or on his chest.
4) Don't lean over the top of a dog. Either approach him from the side and/or if it is a small dog, get down to his level. Only do this if you are confident that the dog is friendly and wants to be engaged.
5) Even if the dog appears friendly and starts giving you doggie kisses, do not hug him.Although most dogs will tolerate a hug from family members, they really do not like it and it could lead to a bite.
6) When meeting a dog for the first time in his home, remember some dogs are very territorial and protective of their homes and their humans. Let the dog check you out and often it is a good idea to avoid physical contact with their "human" such as hand-shaking or hugging until the dog gives you the ok.
7) Giving a treat to a dog is almost always a way to make them your friend but be sure to check with their "human" before offering the treat.
Keep these things in mind whenever you meet a dog for the first time and you can be reasonably sure he will be happy to make your acquaintance.