Whether you’re a new puppy parent or a long-time dog owner, it’s important to understand the proper ways to introduce your best friend to other dogs. Understanding how to introduce dogs to each other is fundamental to proper training and is vitally important when welcoming a new dog to the family or venturing to the dog park. And though introducing dogs is a big part of ownership, it’s also a relatively easy skill to learn with a few simple ground rules. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best practices to use when making canine introductions.
As a dog owner, encountering other dogs is simply a part of life. Interactions with other dogs can happen quickly and unexpectedly, so it’s important to always start with a few key rules. First and foremost, always ask another dog’s owner if they’re comfortable making an introduction. While dogs are social animals by nature, some handle social encounters better than others, and you should never assume that another dog is ready to meet your furry buddy. Also, remember that dogs may appear socially adept with other humans but feel less comfortable with new dogs.
Another simple rule of thumb is to pay close attention to both dogs’ body language. Dogs may become overwhelmed by the experience and display obvious signs, such as yawning, tensed jaws, turning their head away, lowering tails, shaking or puffing out the hair on their coats. If either dog shows any of these signs, it may be best to separate the dogs and discontinue the introduction. Not all dogs have strong personal chemistry, so don’t feel bad about moving on or declining introductions altogether.
How to Plan a Dog Introduction
Lots of dogs get introduced to each other on daily walks, but it’s also fun and often necessary to plan meetings between dogs. Whether you’re planning to adopt a new pup, dog-sit for a friend or send your pooch off for a sleepover, here are some tips for planning an introduction between two dogs.
Start the Introduction on Neutral Ground
Dogs can be territorial, especially around their homes. To avoid aggressive behavior and potential conflicts, initiate the meeting outside in a yard, on a sidewalk or in a nearby park. Give the dogs plenty of space to start, allowing them to move closer together as they get more comfortable. Once the dogs seem comfortable, move them into a garage or onto a porch and then finally into the house.
Work Up to Off-Leash Encounters
Some dogs are more comfortable off-leash than others. To ensure a smooth introduction, start with both dogs on-leash. If both dogs display positive body language, allow them to socialize with their leashes hanging on the ground. If things go well at this stage, both dogs may be comfortable interacting off-leash.
Create a Conflict-Free Environment
When introducing dogs in a home, be sure to set up a safe and secure space for the meeting. Have a crate, strong baby gate or separate room ready in case the dogs need some space. Also, be sure to remove any toys, treats or dog food that could cause competition or aggression. Always stay present and engaged with newly introduced dogs, and keep them in separate, secure rooms if you need to leave them alone.