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April 16, 2019

The Trick to Successful Dog-to-Dog Introductions

Whether you are adding another dog to your home, or just having a new canine friend coming to visit, there are steps you can follow to help all dogs and humans feel more at ease.  Following these procedures can help avoid nasty fights. You need to make sure that while introducing pooches to one another, you are on the right turf and take your time. Here’s the trick to successful dog-to-dog introductions!

Neutral Ground

You will always want to introduce dogs in an area where neither of them is likely to feel territorial. If you are adopting a new pet, most shelters and rescues will offer a “dog match,” where you will bring your dog to the rescue and they will facilitate the first meeting. Meeting in a location where the dogs can meet without feeling possessive will help make both of them feel more comfortable when going into a home.

Steps for Meeting

Make sure both dogs are on leash, and start with a parallel walk, keeping the dogs at least the leash length apart. This will let them pick up each other’s scent, without actually interacting.

Once both dogs seem comfortable walking near each other, let the dogs meet while still leashed. As the dogs approach each other, note their body language. Loose posture, tail raised and wagging and playful barking are all good signs that the dog would be interested in meeting and playing. Teeth baring, low growling, tucked tail and prolonged eye contact are signs that this dog is not ready to meet.

If both dogs are displaying positive body language, let them start by sniffing each other’s backsides. Nose-to-nose meetings can be stressful for dogs who may be more fearful or submissive. Once they seem comfortable with each other, try walking with them closer to each other to make sure there are still no signs of aggression.

If all is going well, introduce the dogs in a safe fenced-in area. Start by dropping the leashes so if a scuffle does occur, they are easy to separate. If they are enjoying playing and both seem comfortable, you can remove the leashes.

Bringing Your New Dog Home

So the initial meeting went great and you’re ready to bring a new dog into your home! Still start slow, by reintroducing the dogs on a walk in your yard or wherever your first dog’s favorite walking spot is. Walk for as long as needed for the dogs to reintroduce themselves, as well as needed for them to be comfortable with a new dog in your first dog’s space.

Once they are comfortable, bring them inside your home, and drop the leashes. Let them roam with the leashes still on to make sure there is nothing either dog is guarding. For the first few weeks to months, feed the dogs separately and only let them play with “high-value” toys at different times. Also keep them separate when you are not there to supervise. Eventually, the dogs should be able to interact and roam freely.