How To Properly Greet Your Dog
Dogs are creatures of habits. The best way to teach them is by using the same repetitive motions and words until they understand what you’re trying to accomplish. There are also ways that we can improve the bond we have with our dogs by properly greeting them. A lot of showing affection is demonstrated by touching. Think of our children for a moment, how often are we making physical contact with them? Whether we’re brushing their hair, helping them get dressed or just holding them until they fall asleep, there is a long of contact that we administer. That creates a huge bond between parent and child. Think of that the next time that you greet your dog. They also get a huge positive boost when we come in contact with them. A pat on the head or a good back scratch can go a long way with building a bond with your dog.
It has been proven that a “long time” for a dog is around 15 minutes. So let’s say that we work the standard 8-hour day. That’s a lot of 15-minute increments that our dogs are left waiting to see us again, right? When you walk in the house it’s important to give your dog the greeting that it was waiting so badly for. With my dog, I begin by calling his name, “Bruno” and squatting so he can run to me (he’s a small breed Shih Tzu). When he arrives, we have the same ritual every day. Lots of “good boys,” scratches behind his ears and stomach pats when he rolls over on his back. It not only gives me a gives me a minute of bliss after the long work day, but I can tell that he really enjoys it.
How Greetings Really Affect Our Dogs
That last paragraph is the layman’s way of describing how our greetings can affect our dogs. To really get a good grasp on the scientific side of this, we need to discuss some of the research that scientists have been utilizing to understand our dogs better. Scientists have performed a study that consisted of someone the dog was familiar with leaving it in a room for 25 minutes before returning. The dog wasn’t alone, there was an unfamiliar veterinary student in the room that would draw blood from the pup after every revisit by their familiar person. After the first reunion, the “familiar person” greeted the dog with physical contact and a friendly toned greeting. After the next 25-minute increment, the person only greeted the dog with the verbal greeting but made no physical contact. And the last time the person reentered the room, he was told to sit in a chair and begin reading, no contact, physical or verbal was made with the dog.
It’s obvious that the dog couldn’t just tell the scientist how it felt after each interaction but its blood was able to. That student that was drawing blood was doing so, so the level of Oxytocin could be measured after each interaction. Oxytocin is a hormone that mammals produce when we go through certain situations like falling in love. In fact, Oxytocin is sometimes called the “Love Hormone.” I guess it’s pretty obvious that the Oxytocin levels were the highest during the first greeting that included both physical and verbal interaction and lessened with each greeting after. The interesting part of the data is the length of the Oxytocin spikes after each interaction. The hormone stayed in the blood for a considerably longer amount of time after the interaction with physical and vocal actions. This research tells us that while our dogs are happy to be reunited with us in any event, they are the happiest when we show them physical and verbal attention.
This study alone is enough for me to continue greeting my dog with a pat on the head and a soft-toned kind word as long as he continues to wag his tail and be excited when I get home. Clearly, my dog isn’t able to tell me that he appreciates me taking the time to spend a few minutes with him after he’s been alone, waiting for me. However, this study made me realize that the things that are going on in my dog’s body are the same feelings that I have felt when my Oxytocin levels are spiking. It’s a great feeling to be able to give another living thing that feeling, especially one that has always been there for me without even realizing that he was helping me with whatever I was going through. It also helps to think of how his Oxytocin levels last longer after a good pat and a “Good Boy!” Hopefully, it will last the whole 15 minutes that he considers to be a long time.