Safely Introducing Dogs

Ever been on a walk and wanted to introduce your dog to another only to have it end up in something that resembles a WWF smackdown?

At some stage your dog will have to meet another dog that it doesn’t know and you can make this run more smoothly by following a few basic rules.

1– Just because your dog is normally a happy dog, doesn’t mean it’s going to get along with every dog- nor does it have to. Don’t force your dog into interactions that it isn’t comfortable with.

2– Learn about dog body language and appeasement signals. Education is key. We have written an article about body language which you can find HERE.

3– If you approach a dog you don’t know well and it’s offering appeasement signals, the best thing to do is leave it alone. This also goes for your dog. If your dog is giving out appeasement signals, listen to it and calmly move away from the situation.

4– Don’t be forced into a greeting that you aren’t comfortable with. If you aren’t happy to have your dog meet another dog, then you have a right to say so and have it respected.

5-Keep all tension out of your lead. Tension creates tension and this is the last thing you want when dogs are meeting.

6- Let the first introduction last only 3 seconds. Keep it short and sweet. Call your dog back after the 3 seconds and reward it. You can repeat this if the meeting went well. Don’t overload your dog by throwing it straight into a greeting and leaving it be.

7- Keep your eyes on the dogs at all times! If your phone is ringing, leave it in your pocket.

8- If you are nervous about the meeting and can’t control it, forget about it. Leave a meeting for another day. Once again, tension equals tension and if you are nervous, you will be passing that straight down the lead to your dog.

9- If your dogs are having a stare-off. Forget it.

10- If the dogs have tense jaws and are holding their breath or licking their lips, this is a sign that trouble is brewing. Walk away.

11- If your dog or the other dog has a tail that is tucked under it’s backside, stiff in the air or vibrating quickly, move away. None of these signs are positive. Remember- a wagging tail doesn’t necessarily equal a happy dog.

12- What you should be looking for is relaxed, loose body language. There should be no tension, the eyes and face should look soft, the tail loose and held at medium to low height and the jaw should be relaxed.

13- Don’t punish your dog for offering signals that it’s uncomfortable, this includes growling. Punishing a dog that’s fearful won’t fix the fear. That would be like someone beating you with a stick for being afraid of snakes. It won’t stop you being afraid but it will make you distrust the person beating you. You may stop outwardly showing that you are afraid but the fear will still be there.

14- Don’t let another dog violate your dog while it’s on lead- EVER. Your dog needs to know that while you have it trapped on a lead that you are going to protect it. Dogs that learn that they can’t trust their owner to keep them safe will often display signs of lead aggression.

15- Butt sniffing is natural for dogs. It’s their way of shaking hands and getting to know each other. If you are grossed out by this, too bad. The only time you should stop it is if one of the dogs is uncomfortable with this happening.

Ensuring your dog has appropriate greetings sets you both up for success and is a real trust builder. Your dog will realize that not all dogs are bad and also that he can trust you when he’s confined by his lead.

*This article is not designed to replace a dog trainer. If you are having issues with your dog and it’s greetings, please call your dog trainer.*