Don’t Let Your Dog Shake Hands Like Donald Trump: The 3-Second-Rule for Dog Introductions

Don’t Let Your Dog Shake Hands Like Donald Trump: The 3-Second-Rule for Dog Introductions

Most everyone has seen the videos of President Trump and his inappropriate handshakes that go on for way too long!

A normal handshake, between two ‘consenting adults’ is brief. A handshake is an introduction: You don’t know the person. You don’t death grip their hand. You don’t hold on for too long. You introduce yourself, and then you let go. Both parties participate, briefly, and then release. When a physical interaction with someone you don’t know goes on for too long, it’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not appropriate. It causes tension.

The same is true for dogs!

Over and over again, I have seen the same scenario play out: Two dogs on leash, led by their owners, meet for a nose-to-nose intro. These dogs may have pulled toward each other to meet — curious, unsure — or they may have not been too keen on meeting but their owners encouraged it. They sniff, face to face, and then… 1… 2… 3 seconds pass and BOOM! Snarls, snaps, aggression! The embarassed owners are disheveled and quickly go the other direction. Chalk it off to a bad chemistry?

Nope! Chalk it off to too much pressure. A face-to-face intro for a dog is unnatural and during every second that passes, the tension builds! It’s like clockwork. It’s so predictable. Repeat: It’s TOO MUCH PRESSURE.

Why does this happen? Dogs are not meant to meet, restrained, on leash, face to face. If you watch natural dog behavior in an off-leash setting, you will see that dogs approach each other face to rear, and they typically don’t spend too much time doing so. When dogs “dwell” it is considered bad manners, even confrontational. Sometimes that will elicit corrections.

Especially with rescue dogs, or undersocialized dogs, they do not know ‘appropriate dog behaviors’ and so it falls on us – as the humans – to be their leaders. To show them the right way!

Ideally, dogs should never meet face-to-face for a first encounter. For undersocialized dogs, I even recommend “setting up” the introduction: Presenting one dogs rear to the other and then swapping. All interactions should be brief and when the dog successfully sniffs appropriately, praise or reward: Good! Yes! — and walk away!

If you do encourage or allow a nose-to-nose introduction, it is especially important to stick to the “3 second rule”: Count to 3, praise, and walk away! Of course, every dog is different, so if you notice any signs that your dog is unsure or tense — such as stiff body, hackles raised, crinkled forehead — end the introduction sooner than later on a positive note!

Remember, it is up to you to advocate for your dog. Don’t let your dog get Trumped by another dog, and certainly don’t let your dog be a Trump Handshaker!

39 Comments. Leave a comment

  1. Ann

    This is an easy to understand explanation of REGULAR dog behavior & is a great way to avoid making a dog uncomfortable & possibly setting up your dog for leash aggression 🐾🐾 (A real thing I didn’t understand while I had her, my 3rd GS!)

    ((Now my 4th Shepherd, my black GS, Buddy, also my service dog, I had him for almost 10 yrs (not ever long enough RIP Aug 2008 to May 4,2018 my loyal, loving best friend).
    He was sick with Lupus & a horrible fungal infection, Asperguillous, that was eating out his nose & sinuses.
    I had to make the most 💔 decision one never hopes to they won’t have to make & let him go, onto his journey across the rainbow bridge.))

    There is great a lot of info to read on how being on a leash & meeting other dogs on a leash can be a very unsuccessful thing for many dogs.

    I just never let it happen with, Bonna, after the 1st issue when she was not even 1 yet..my main concern was to make sure she never got into this situation & to continue training, & knowing she was just supposed to be my best companion.
    Accepting & knowing her personality was the key, for me, even with all the experience I already had.

    I WISH I had known more about the leash issues with her, my only GS (3rd one of 4 I’ve been blessed with since 1982) that was pretty aggressive towards all other dogs.
    I struggled with having a Shepherd like this for 2 yrs before I realized that was just going to be how she was.
    After I accepted the fact that she was MY BEST FRIEND & COMPANION, not other dogs best friend, it was so much better.
    We would walk in the outside of the dog park fence, train a lot so she was ok with all situations, except the “having to like other dogs” issue, & we spent 13 yrs together, always safe, never setting up for failure, realizing I would keep her safe, as she would me.

  2. paul

    What does the POTUS’s handshake have to do with your dog’s 🐶 social etiquettes. Unless you’re going out of your way to show your anti Trump bias. Not nice nor appreciated.

    • Jenny DB Nordin

      I think Trump supporters and not-so-supporters alike can agree that Trump doesn’t shake hands properly. It is an analogy to help dog owners help their dogs.

    • terri warnock

      I agree with this response. It is not only unprofessional, but bad manners to call out one publically know individual to criticize (Ironic, because in this writing, you are coaching about manners). Perhaps a lengthy handshake becomes a habit when it is protocol for media photographs. I could site other notables who have either prolonged a handshake or hesitated for a handshake (also not polite). It would be great to drop political opinion references when educating your clientele.

      • Jenny DB Nordin

        Thanks for your feedback… how did you find this post, by the way?

  3. liz hyde

    this is great information. as i have had the experience with my westie to other dogs.

  4. Emily CALDWELL

    I don’t Appreciate bringing the POTHUS in with adoptable Dogs ! Why was this even mentioned ? It just turned me off as far as wanting to Adopt a dog from your place…
    Read this Clearly, I won’t Adopt any dog you have ! My Chihuahua is 19 years old and 4 months, but I’m going to look elsewhere..

    • Rhi

      Your comment is both sad and hilarious. I feel so bad for you, but glad you have to keep searching for a dog), but so bad for your future dog. Ugh.

    • j

      agreed! Seriously Seattle.. This just shows drama already.. for the animals sake leave youre political views elsewhere

  5. Karin Petersen

    What a ridiculous comment about our President. Obviously you seem a little jealous (okay a LOT) jealous of his personal success and what he has done for our country.
    Adopt a dog from you – no way, you are intolerant and rude.

    • Jenny DB Nordin

      Hi Karin,

      Thank you for your feedback. This post is not political but we sure do get a lot of hate messages from people who interpret it as such. This is useful information that any reasonable person can relate to which provides an analogy for what NOT to do when introducing dogs. Sorry you missed the point.

      • Katlyn

        This post is NOT POLITICAL? HA! Then why would you make this statement about our President as FACT – stating ‘most people have seen our president and his inappropriate handshakes that go on way too long’. You obviously are stating your opinion and feelings about Trump and broadcasting as a given. I didn’t even vote for him but can have the respect for the office just like I have for every other president. This is getting so tedious and most often delivered by ignorant people who don’t even know what one candidate stands for vs. the other, what the policy issues are and don’t even know their own country’s history or what any given political ideology represents – they just get their ‘news’ from soundbites and repeat rhetoric that is fed to them by other hotheads that don’t even know what they are talking about. Trump does some stupid commentary too by the way, but I am so glad he got in and my candidate did not or I doubt we would all be doing as well as we are in this economy. PS – Presidents also have been shown to historically shake longer than others due to the photo opp they are posing for – Fact check it. Was just looking to come adopt a dog this weekend but won’t be now. Is there any other management at your organization that could oversight this content?

        • Jenny DB Nordin

          Thank you for your feedback and good luck in your search for a dog 🙂

      • terri warnock

        No…. ypur useful information can be described and taught easily without calling-out a specific person. That describes immature behavior. It also is quite the opposite of professional. I am not thinking of this in any political context. As a social skills coach, I am speaking to the unprofessional manner. It would not matter to me if it was Pres Trump you called out or the Pope. It is just unprofessional and not primitive of your business.

    • Katie Sanderson

      Any Trump is anything other than intolerant and rude? I think not. He is the poster child of disrespect. You get what you give and anyone who says and does what he does is not worthy of my respect. But that’s not the point. It was an attempt at humor and anything more read into it is just plain defensiveness. Good thing we have dogs to remind us to just love and serve our “pack” regardless of their color, species, gender or political beliefs!

  6. Miguel

    LOVE IT!
    Most dog lovers will get it and understand this is not a political statement but a strong/dominant personality analogy.

    For the ones who don’t…have a good day.

  7. Batur

    My reading stopped once I saw Presidents name and your negative comment ab9ut him. I thought your organization only saving animals not spreading their political views. So on future I would say keep it your political comments for your coffee moments.
    Cheers

    • Jenny DB Nordin

      Thank you for the advice. Sorry you couldn’t glean anything useful out of this dog-related post.

    • Debr

      I totally agree ! When they find out how much money Donald Trump and his family gifted to Rescues thoughtful the United State…. you all should feel ashamed

  8. Robin

    This was extremely helpful to me as a dog novice, and the analogy is perfect. Thank you!

  9. Aly

    Thank you so much for posting this! Never knew.

    I’m sorry it’s getting such a weird feedback from some though. That’s very unfortunate that some people would bring in their political opinions towards not using you as a company to adopt or not. Even those who feel this post is political and inappropriate or whatever, that doesn’t mean the dogs should have to suffer and not get adopted? That makes absolutely no sense to coordinate the two ideas together. Dogs don’t have political views, they just deserve the best love and care. Isn’t that the main point? Those of you saying your now officially turning your back on this company…? Grow up. Adopt an animal because it deserves everything it could possibly want, not because your choosing to make this about something completely irrelevant. Base this company off what it does for these animals and the care and support it provides, nothing else. Because frankly this company is amazing regardless of this post and no matter how you feel about it. You need to look at the much bigger picture of you looking at these animals and saying directly to them “I’m not gonna give you a loving home just because this company posted something I misunderstood or even disagree with”. That’s sad. And honestly if your that type of person to show love or not love to an animal based off something like that, they don’t deserve you. They will be better off with someone who would love and care for them regardless. This company does great things. End of story.

  10. Erin H

    Thank you so much for all of the lives you and your organization have touched. You guys are the most thoughtful, caring, hardworking (literally day in and day out) individuals I have ever met. Grateful for all that you. I have grown up with dogs my entire life and I have never know about this rule but I have certainly been in scenarios where it would have been helpful to know!

    Also, very surprised by some individuals shocking unrelated comments. You work way to hard to deal with that kind of non-sense.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  11. Lloyd G

    People, watch him. He grabs your hand and pulls it in and then won’t let go. It’s about establishing dominance. Perfectly bad example. Has nothing to do with politics. He’s the President hence the attention. Triggered much? Save a needy animal!

  12. Chad

    Jenny, thank you for an informative and useful article. I appreciate the information, with a harmless analogy and a sense of humor. Our dog has a great sense of humor (but has never publicly denigrated a person reporter with a physical disability for a political cheap shot) and loves meeting other dogs. This information could prevent an ugly incident and helps me further understand our best friends dog behavior.Thank you and Bark On!

  13. Natasha

    So glad you posted this. People always think it’s weird when I make my grouchy dog show his bottom instead of confront face to face on leash. Learned this on dog whisperer years ago and was able to rehab our Chihuahua’s social skills.

    • Jenny DB Nordin

      While that may be unnatural for humans to see, it’s certainly more natural for dogs to do!

  14. Christina Barry

    What you did with your comment about Trump is to politicize dog rescue. I get the point you are making but am alienated by politicizing animal rescue. I donate exclusively to animal rescue but will find other rescues that keep politics out of animal rescue. It’s folly to alienate people who might be offended by gratuitous anti Trump comments. You aren’t the only one but why do it?

  15. Sheree

    Thank you for this info. I’ve been doing it wrong all along! And your comparison to Trump’s handshake is totally appropriate for this discussion. You could tell about my former boss or my uncle’s handshakes that go on forever, but who knows them? I got it.

    Our family just woke up to find our 14-year old “Yorkie” has passed. I thought it might be therapy to read about other dogs and their personalities (to give me something to look forward to). It’s too new to adopt yet, but when we are ready, I’m glad I found your site.

  16. Christina

    I’m a new dog mom, I rescued a beautiful Dogo Argentino/Staffordshire mix on 03/31/2019. We have been working on leash training and doggy introduction. But a huge hurdle is other people understanding he won’t hurt their pups as we are out and about. He’s very gentle, but a big boy so I get it.
    The few that do allow introductions I have always allowed him to go nose to nose and never understood why the other dogs became aggressive.
    I was starting to think my little Prince was never going to make doggy friends, so thank you for helping this new dog mom understand that it’s not him it’s me that needs to modify behavior.
    For the record long hand shakes are not only uncomfortable but it’s also kinda creepy!

    • Jenny DB Nordin

      Hopefully with this new information your dog will be less intimidating to other dogs he meets!

  17. Christina

    I was immediately turned off by the anti-Trump comment in this “artcle”. Keep political opinions out of dog rescue unless it’s to advocate for animals. I shall move on and find a different APOLITICAL dog rescue organization. I advise you rethink your choice of words because you are turning off people who would like to help Doggone Seattle. And it isnt only Trump supporters. Unnecessarily stupid writing working at cross purposes to what dog rescue is suppose to be about. I suggest you rewrite it.

  18. Donna

    Excellent article! I appreciated your practical and actionable tips for meeting and greeting. Thank you for all that you do to make the world a better place by helping people and dogs find their best forever-friend.

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