As the 2015-2016 school year embarks, a lot of our kids are meeting new friends. The human way of meeting is pretty obvious. A look, a smile, sharing a seat on the school bus, and the rest is history. But how do you introduce your pup to another pup? Here are a few tips from one of our favorite positive reinforcement trainers, Original Dog Whisperer Paul Owens, for how to do the “meet & greet hokey pokey” if your pet is nervous.
Ask anyone about how to introduce dogs, and you’ll probably get several people talking about meeting on neutral territory, such as taking them for a walk, and about keeping the leashes loose or having them say hello through a fence first. And the dogs not being on choke, prong or shock collars. These are all very good suggestions.
I suggest a one-dog-at-a-time, meet-and-greet. It gives you more of a chance to collect information and monitor how they respond. Make sure you speak to the pet parent beforehand and understand how the other dog reacts in different contexts. They may not have any history of aggression while on a walk, it doesn’t mean they won`t react if treats or a favorite toy suddenly appears, and it doesn’t mean they won’t react if another dog comes into the picture.
It’s also critical to know about each dog’s health. Not only do you want to keep both dogs healthy, especially puppies, but if a dog isn’t feeling well, it can make even a normally friendly dog grumpy.
I also stress these things:
- If there are any doubts or people are inexperienced, hire a professional trainer who is well-versed in canine body language. It’s the subtle signals a professional can read and interpret that dramatically increases the percentages of safety and success.
- Along those lines, many dogs, especially ones who are a bit unsure of things, have a two tiered communication process: the first one lasts approximately 60-90 seconds where preliminary information is exchanged – often by sniffing each other or eyeing each other warily – followed by a brief disengagement where they walk away and sniff the ground continuing communications with each other from a distance. This is followed by a second approach, where the dogs either say ‘OK, let’s play’ or ‘ok let’s rumble’. Or one of the dogs may turn his/her back or cling to their human as a means of saying ‘I want no part of you.’ Watch this and adhere to what the pet wants.
- Humans should be quick to interrupt any escalation in potentially dangerous situations.
- If dogs appear to be ok with one another, it’s important to take their collars off or have them wear break-away collars so one dog doesn`t get his/her jaw caught while playing.
- Attention should be given to size, strength, age and exuberance of each dog so that unintentional injuries don’t occur. Again, the humans should be quick to interrupt if necessary.
Got questions? Talk to your Kriser’s pack member about speaking to a trainer in your region.