Observe the dog when it first arrives. If it has arrived in a carrier it is best to ignore it initially while you greet your guest, so that it can get used to new smells and sounds. If the dog is on a leash you will see if it is wagging its tail, appears timid or is in an aggressive stance with bared teeth and growling.
You may have a dog visit your home because it is the companion of a friend or relative, a guide-dog for the visually impaired or a pets-as-therapy dog. Whatever the reason, it is important to treat the dog as a dog and not as a person. Have your guidelines worked out before the dog arrives, and preferably talk about them with the person who will be bringing the dog. Guidelines include which areas of the house the dog is allowed in and what areas are restricted, where it will be eating, whether it is allowed on furniture, if it is allowed in the yard and where it will sleep.
Talk softly and move slowly when greeting the dog. Do not look it directly in the eyes, as it can perceive that as threatening, but look at its feet, tail or the person holding the leash. Hold your hand towards it, but not directly above it and allow it to sniff you, as dogs learn about things by smelling them. If it growls or bares its teeth then move your hand back, but hopefully a visiting dog will have been socialized and will not be aggressive towards strangers. Once it has sniffed your hand, give it a pat on the chest or shoulder, and pat it in the direction the fur lies.
Keep young children and any pets of your own out of the way when the visiting dog arrives, so that it does not feel overwhelmed. Let small children meet the dog one at a time and give it time before each introduction so it can stay calm. Allow it to meet any pets of your own under close supervision so that you can see if there is likely to be any trouble with aggression or dominance issues. The visiting dog will recognize that your house is your pets' territory from the scents it picks up.
Offer the dog a drink of clean fresh water soon after it arrives, just as you will offer its owner a tea, coffee or cold beverage. If you have decided in advance it is going to be fed in a certain area, such as a laundry or mudroom, that is where you should offer it the water. Dog owners normally travel with their own bowls, but have one available for it to drink from so they don’t have to unpack immediately.
Discuss the dogs toilet arrangements with the owner (their dog, their mess to clean up!) and have clear directions to dog-friendly areas in your neighborhood where the dog can be walked. Place the dog in its sleeping area well before the household goes to sleep so you will soon know whether there is going to be a problem with barking or whining. Chew toys or something that smells of its owner can sometimes stop that, but if the dog is determined you may have to let it sleep in the same room as the owner so everyone can sleep well.
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