Mike Bloomberg is not known to be a dog person. This was evidenced again yesterday when the former New York mayor and current presidential candidate tried to greet one by grabbing the dog by the jaw and aggressively shaking his or her big sweet head. (Bloomberg’s normal dog greeting, apparently.) A video of the act went somewhat viral on Twitter, causing many to wonder why he was doing that to the dog’s face.
Now, it’s true that some dogs enjoy a playful snout grab from a friend during playtime, but sticking your hand in a dog’s mouth and aggressively shaking his head by the teeth isn’t generally advised for a first-time greeting.
Instead, Mike Bloomberg, maybe you can try something like this:
1. Let the dog sniff the back of your hand.
Don’t be aggressive. Politely offer the back of your hand for the dog to sniff. If he decides he is cool with your presence post-sniffing, you may continue.
2. Offer a gentle pet while introducing yourself.
Maybe you can do a little scratch under the chin, or behind the ears, while you tell the dog, “Hello, I’m former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg. I’m running for president because I am rich enough to do so somewhat successfully, with an emphasis on somewhat.” This is enough of a greeting for dogs, but I understand as someone running a monied political campaign you might want a more explicit “dog greeting” for a photograph, i.e., a handshake, so we can continue.
3. Present your open palm for “shake.”
If the dog is fluent in the physical command for “shake” and willing to perform the trick for strangers, he will allow you to hold his paw. Do not aggressively shake it. You can shake it a little, though, as sort of a joke. Say “It’s very nice to meet you, [dog name]!”
4. Listen very carefully to what the dog has to say.
Look into his eyes. You’ll be able to hear him. And you’ll know exactly what he means.
5. Out of self-preservation, pretend you don’t know what the dog is saying.
“Ha-ha, oh, what’s that, boy? I don’t speak dog language,” you’ll say, but you’ll know. You’ll hear him. Any anyway, you don’t have to worry — no one else can hear the dog anyway. This message is just for you. Go ahead and ask.
6. Ask if anyone else can hear the dog talking.
“Just curious, can anyone else hear the dog talking?,” you’ll ask. “Is this one of those … talking dogs?” It’s not. In fact, “talking dogs” don’t exist at all.
Or do they?
7. Say good-bye to the dog — but never forget him.
The dog has done all he can for you. You’re on your own now.