Introducing Your Pet to New People

Published: December 6, 2020


Academy Animal Hospital Greenwood

Much like people, pets all have different personalities. Some love people, some don’t.

Does your pet cower away from new people? Or do they jump up excited to see a new face? Or maybe they see someone new as a threat and go into protection mode.

Why are some pets afraid of people?

Most pets come with a history. They had a life before entering your world. If the pet had any negative experience with people, they may be extra anxious around new humans. This is normal, as the pet doesn’t know what to expect from humans. They may have been treated kindly by some humans and not by others, so they aren’t sure who to trust.

The best approach when introducing an anxious or aggressive pet to new people is to let the pet lead.

No matter your pet’s temperament and history, there are few key steps to introducing your pet to new people. You know your pet best, so read your pet’s body language and adjust best practices to fit their unique personality:

For dogs: meeting new people at home

One of the best places to introduce your dog to new people is in your home. It’s an environment that you can control and the dog feels safe in.

  1. Before the person comes into your home, put your dog in a separate room away from where they will enter. Let in the new person and have them sit down. It’s important to not have them hovering over the dog.
  2. Once you let the dog into the space with the new person, let the dog make the first move. Do not have the person touch, speak to or approach the dog.
  3. Let the new person give your dog treats. Make sure they do not make eye contact with the dog. They can drop the treat on the floor near them or hold it out in their hand. They should crouch down to give the treat or stand sideways.
  4. Move at the dog’s pace. Do not rush the dog to take the treat or approach the person. Monitor the dog’s body language to decide the best approach.

Remember, stay calm during this process. Your dog reads your mood to determine the safety of the situation.

For dogs: meeting new people on a walk

When you’re out for a stroll with your pup, strangers may try to approach you to pet or talk to your dog. This scenario can create anxiety in owner and pet if the dog hasn’t been properly trained.

You can handle an approaching stranger a few ways:

  • Offer specific ways to approach your dog: “Please let them sniff you before you pet them,” or, “You can pet them but no hugs.”
  • If you’re comfortable with the person meeting your dog, try to implement the steps for meeting at home. Have the new person crouch down, and if you have treats, offer them one to give to your dog.
  • If you’re not comfortable with the person meeting your dog, simply say, “They are not friendly. Please do not approach them.”

For cats: meeting new people at home

You should have your guest sit calmly and let the cat take the lead. They may approach the guest, they may not. But just like with a dog, do not force an interaction. If the cat is interested in treats, let your guest offer one. The most important tip is to let the cat approach the person.

No matter the personality or type of pet you have, be aware of their unique responses to interactions. Animals tell us a lot with their body language. Let them lead and, most importantly, make sure they feel safe!

If you need professional help or need a veterinarian for your new dog or cat, connect with us on our website today.