Respectful and non-intimidating engagement with new dogs


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Respectful and non-intimidating engagement with new dogs

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

Your suggestions to James C. in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, who was having problems bonding with his daughter’s dog, were good ones, including bringing a special toy for the dog and helping walk or feed the dog while visiting. I also found avoiding eye contact with my in-laws’ dog helped tremendously. The dog was intimidated by my presence, but avoiding eye contact minimized that problem. Shortly after, the dog laid down near me on the couch, gave me a few kisses on the hand, and let me pet her while she fell asleep. I think if James tries this method, he just may achieve the results he’s seeking.

– Howard R., Hermosa Beach, California

Dear Howard,

While I advised James to just be present and not engage the dog until the dog was ready to come around, I checked and I didn’t tell him to avoid eye contact, which is good advice when meeting any new dog. Personally, I don’t engage a dog unless a dog engages me. People think that’s odd since I work in the animal world, but I think it’s a respectful way to gain the trust of our animal friends.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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