The holiday season is a wonderful time to invite family and friends into our homes. This can either be an enjoyable or stressful experience for our pets depending on their personality. Just as young children can be shy around people unfamiliar to them, so can dogs. If a dog comes to you and has a happy and relaxed body and face, then it is telling you it wants your attention. If the dog keeps its distance and has a stiff body, pinned back ears, tightly closed mouth and a lowered or tucked tail, then it is telling you it is uncomfortable.
Rather than reaching toward a dog showing these signs, try offering your hand and letting it move towards it. If it comes close try petting the chest once or twice and then stopping to observe the reaction. If it moves closer and nudges you then it wants you to pet it. If it turns away or looks at your hand, licks its lips or moves away from you then it is not wanting your touch. Try not to take it personally and instead offer an alternative such as playing together with a favourite toy. Respecting the dog’s feelings creates a safe and comfortable environment for everyone. Happy Holidays!