The 4th Natural Dog Law tells us that a dog’s senses form her reality. She perceives the world through her nose, eyes, and ears (in that order). That’s very different from our human way of eyes, ears and nose.
That means if we’re not thoughtful in the way we meet and approach dogs, we can easily breach dog etiquette ‘ possibly sparking unwanted behavior. ‘Nose, eyes, ears’ helps us mind our dog manners.
When humans meet for the first time, we make eye contact and often exchange a handshake or hug. It’s very direct and face-to-face. But if two strange dogs met this way, it would likely lead to a fight!
When dogs approach each other, they do it indirectly. This is the reason for the inevitable circling and mutual butt-sniffing. They are getting to know each other’s scent and energy first. To dogs, scent and energy are like ‘names.’ Once they know each other’s names, then they’ll decide if they want to interact.
If a dog isn’t interested, he will just walk away. If the dogs are interested in playing, they will come around to face each other, and this is when the eyes finally engage.
As humans, we naturally want to run right up to a new dog, talk to him, look him in the eye and immediately pet him. That’s because this is how humans meet one another. But to a dog, this is a very rude approach.
That’s why Cesar recommends this rubric when meeting a dog for the first time: ‘No touch, no talk, no eye contact.’ A dog won’t be offended if you don’t greet her immediately. In fact, ignoring the dog is the best way to respect her space. Once she’s had a chance to smell your scent and assess your energy, she’ll decide if she wants to approach. If she does, she’ll give you permission to interact by sniffing, licking your hand or otherwise making contact. Then, you can engage with the dog. If she doesn’t approach, don’t be offended. Indeed, she likely appreciates your ‘nose, eyes, ears’ thoughtfulness.
By meeting a dog in this way, not only do you respect her space, but you avoid making her over-excited or anxious, which will help her stay balanced and calm.