A question I get quite frequently deals with how to introduce dogs together. While the question often centers on dog parks, trails around Salt Lake City, or a friend’s home who already has a dog these concepts can be applied in various greeting spots.
The above video shows a dog we were integrating into our dog daycare in Salt Lake City just the other day. This is a dog who hasn’t been able to go to other daycares due to some aggressive and anti-social behaviors.
As a matter of fact, shortly after this first greeting with the muzzle on we were able to have her be around the other dogs with the muzzle off.
Going through this exercise with this dog I was reminded of some key concepts to introducing two dogs together, whether there are aggression problems or not. There are certainly more aspects than these but here are three that are pretty important:
1- Know the dogs you’re going to go around. This is why I recommend that people don’t take their dogs to dog parks. These place tend to be populated with poorly behaved dogs who have temperaments and personalities you aren’t familiar with.
I also recommend that people never simply meet other dogs on the street and allow them, on leash, to start making the introduction. This isn’t a natural greeting style for a dog.
When people on the street holler over ‘Let’s have them meet, my dog’s friendly!’ I simply respond with, ‘No, I don’t have my dogs meet other dogs that way.’
It just isn’t necessary and it often leads to big problems.
2- Control the scenario. You want to have control over your dog and make sure the other dogs are controlled.
The question comes up, ‘what if I’m trying to introduce my dog into my friend’s/family’s home where the dogs aren’t obedient and might not be friendly?’
That’s a case by case basis and I don’t always have a great answer. But I’d encourage you to answer the question of ‘what would I do if I was taking my kids to a friend’s home and my friend’s kids were potentially dangerous and unpredictable?’ Would you simply bring your kids over and hope for the best or would you take precautions?
In essence, it’s the same concept of taking your dog to a new house where their dogs aren’t trained and are unpredictable.
3- Motion. Motion is a beautiful thing for a dog, especially a dog with stress. Having them move in a structured way (heeling, for example) can be a great way for your dog to be ‘in’ the group but still feel calmer and separated at the same time.
Whenever people want to know how to introduce dogs I always tell them it’s best if all dogs know how to heel and you can get them on a group walk together for 5-10 minutes before allowing any contact.
If you can follow these three concepts you’ll be in much better shape for dog introductions.