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!

16 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 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.

  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.

  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.

    • 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.

    • Jenny DB Nordin

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

  8. Robin

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

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