Guest post: How to introduce your dog to other dogs on walks
“The bond with a true dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth will ever be.”
– Konrad Lorenz
How to introduce your dog to other dogs on walks? Most new pet owners have this question and need some help figuring out the best way to do this. Although dogs are generally social creatures, each dog is different.
Some dogs bond with others immediately and become best pals without needing encouragement or assistance. Others are quieter and prefer hanging out with dogs that respect their needs and boundaries.
First impressions matter—even in canine meetups. So, it is essential that you are present for your dog’s meet and greets with others of its kind to help it cultivate lifelong doggy friendships.
Here, we list simple steps you can follow if you're wondering how to introduce your dog to other dogs.
1. Find Neutral Ground
When it comes to how to introduce a dog to another dog, the first step is to get both dogs to meet on neutral territory. This is especially helpful if you are trying to learn how to introduce your territorial dog to other dogs.
Outdoor areas, like wide open spaces are the best spots for initial doggy meetings. In such spaces, neither dog will feel territorial and think they have to protect their home or family. This gives them a safe space to become familiar with each other.
While doing this exercise, ensure both dogs are on a leash. Keep your hold on the leash loose but maintain control. This will prevent friendly meetings from erupting into a clash of the canines.
Also, keep a bag of treats with you to calm the dogs if you see any aggressive behaviours. If the dogs like quirky and healthy treats like fresh and unseasoned green beans, even better! But Can Dogs Eat Green Beans? Of course, they're a tasty and nutritious low-calorie treat!
When you’re working on how to introduce your dog to a new dog, walk both dogs at a distance at first. They must be able to see each other but not be too close for comfort, where they feel discomfited by the other’s presence.
Give both of them treats if they don’t exhibit any hostile behaviours. Also, use voice commands while handing the treats to the dogs. For example, when your dog looks at the other dog, say “Good boy!” in a friendly, happy voice and then reward it with a treat. Repeat it a few times.
2. Pay Heed To The Dogs’ Body Language
The second step when it comes to how to introduce a new dog to your other dogs or those of your friends and neighbours is to study the body language of both dogs.
If you’re wondering, “How do you introduce two dogs when one is aggressive?”, carefully watch for signs of aggression, wariness, or defensiveness.
Perhaps you may hear them growling at each other or baring their teeth at each other. Or you may notice the hair on their backs standing up, a hard stare, a lowered or tucked tail, or a stiff-legged stride.
In this case, break up the interaction quickly and calmly by diverting your dog's attention to something else. Also, see if any dog is trying to escape. If so, don’t try to send them back to greet the other dog, as they simply need a break from the encounter.
Meanwhile, if the dogs seem comfortable and relaxed, bring them closer to each other. Reward them with treats every time they look at each other calmly.
If you’re learning how to introduce a puppy to another dog but are not well-versed in canine body language, seek a trainer’s help during this stage.
3. Allow The Dogs To Decide The Pace Of Their Meeting
How do I socialise my dog with other dogs? While you may want to speed up the introduction, you cannot force the dogs to become friends quickly.
They may want to play with each other mid-walk, or they may need more time before they feel comfortable enough to even walk beside each other.
So, take this introduction slowly and steadily, and be patient while the dogs interact.
Once they can be close to each other without showing any aggressive or defensive signs, encourage one dog to walk behind the other. Then switch positions to make them feel at ease. If they are still relaxed, let them walk side by side.
Finally, let them greet each other while you closely supervise them. If any of the dogs exhibit signs of agitation or stress, proceed with the meeting more slowly and carefully.
4. Let The Dogs Interact Off-Leash
“No animal I know of can consistently be more of a friend and companion than a dog.”
– Stanley Leinwall
Once the dogs feel comfortable with one other, you can take them to a fenced area like your yard and let them interact off-leash.
Let them sniff and study each other while you praise their friendly interactions. Next, encourage them to keep walking with you for a little while.
During this final, brief walk, the dogs may sniff each other more to learn more about their new friend. They may also start playing at this point.
Check if the dogs invite each other to connect by doing a play bow. In this gesture, they place their elbows on the ground and throw their rear end in the air.
While the dogs play with each other, watch if the interaction is respectful. There should be an equal give-and-take with pauses while they play.
5. Observe The Dogs At Home
When you bring the dogs into your house for the first time, get a tall, sturdy baby gate to keep them apart initially. Monitor their interaction through the gate. Encourage positive behaviours by giving them their favourite treats.
However, ensure there are no treats, toys, or food anywhere around the house to prevent potential fights between the dogs. Also, don’t let them get too excited, or it may lead to conflict.
How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Get Used to Other Dogs?
Now you know how to introduce your dog to other dogs, keep in mind that the dogs' personalities also play a role in how they get accustomed to other dogs. But on average, it takes about one to three months for dogs to get fully used to each other.
How do you introduce dogs to each other? Let your dogs interact slowly at first while you keep observing their body language. Once they feel comfortable around each other, increase the frequency and duration of their meetings until they become friends.
Founder and Author of The Upper Pawside