As a dog lover, it’s likely that you enjoy meeting new pups — whether they belong to friends, family members, or neighbors. But sometimes the excitement over getting to know a new dog can cause you to inadvertently overstep the boundaries of a fellow Pack Leader.

Here are a few guidelines you should always keep in mind to help respect the rules, boundaries, and limitations set by other dog parents.

  1. If the Pack Leader asks you not to let their dog jump up on you or sit in your lap, comply — even if you don’t mind
    You may enjoy some time with a nice lapdog, but you’re hurting their ability to maintain the household rule for other guests who may not only dislike the behavior but actually be allergic.
  2. Never feed someone else’s dog without permission
    Food is a very powerful motivator for dogs. It can bring out negative instincts and behaviors in an otherwise well-behaved pup. And of course, you can’t know what allergies or food sensitivities this dog may suffer from.
  3. Always practice “no touch, no talk, no eye contact” when meeting a new dog
    This includes even a cute, cuddly one that’s rushing up just begging for love. It can be hard, but remember, by giving the dog attention while he’s in a hyperactive state, you are reinforcing that state — not something that’s in the best interest of the dog’s safety.
  4. Don’t stick your hand in front of the nose of a dog you don’t know
    Many people mistakenly believe they are helping the dog to smell them — but this dog can smell you from much further away. It’s not only unnecessary, but unsafe.
  5. Don’t yell at someone else’s dog
    In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to use our words to try to deal with a dog’s problem behavior, but that will only cause the situation to escalate. Exuding calm-assertive energy will always get you further.
  6. Don’t encourage puppy bites
    Yes, they’re adorable, and yes, they don’t hurt (much). But you’re reinforcing the behavior. Imagine what that will mean when the dog is full grown. Help the Pack Leader by redirecting that behavior towards toys instead.
  7. Don’t leave your dog off-leash
    Unless, of course, it’s an off-leash dog park. Yes, your dog may be trained, balanced, and completely well-behaved, but that doesn’t mean other dogs will be. In fact, the other dog may be undergoing rehabilitation for an issue, and your curious and otherwise friendly dog interferes with that. Or it simply may make the other Pack Leader nervous — hurting their ability to maintain that crucial calm-assertive energy — because they simply don’t know how in-control your dog will be.
  8. Do teach your children about the right way to meet a dog
    This isn’t just a matter of respecting other Pack Leaders; it’s about safety. Not all dogs are ready and willing to meet children, and if your child approaches for a hug, he or she may get bitten instead. Children should always ask first before touching a dog, and then, if permission is granted, allow the dog to approach the child instead of the other way around. Start early; even toddlers can start to pick up on these valuable lessons.
  9. Do secure your gate
    Accidents happen. Even if you are responsible, your dog can get loose. But here’s the key: once it happens, figure out why and how. Take steps to fix the issue as soon as possible, and before allowing your dog out in the backyard again without supervision.
  10. Do help dogs wandering your neighborhood
    As a Pack Leader, you are a part of a community. Help your fellow dog lovers by keeping an eye out for dogs that may have gotten loose. Again, even the most caring Pack Leader can struggle with a devious escapee or accidentally leave a gate unhinged.

    Put your safety first, but if you can do so safely, please intervene. If you are unable to help — for whatever reason — you can still let the owner know the dog’s last-known whereabouts by posting a message on your neighborhood’s Facebook page, the NextDoor social network, or other community message boards.

When in doubt, ask. Most Pack Leaders won’t mind explaining what you can do to best help them on their journey towards raising a well-behaved, calm-submissive pup, and you’ll gain both a canine friend and a grateful human one as a result.

Did you know that Respect is one of the many things our dogs can teach us? Find out how in Cesar’s new book, “Cesar Millan’s Lessons from the Pack,” available now!

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