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How to Introduce Your Dog to New Friends

If you're thinking about adopting a dog or just want to get more comfortable introducing your dog to new friends, Rachel Golub, a certified behaviorist is here to help.

Check out her tips to help your dog make the perfect first impression! 

Tips for Introducing Your Dog to Other Dogs

1. Always start with on-leash greetings

If you're going to introduce another dog to your dog, whether it's a new adoptive dog to your family or if it's just a dog that's going to be staying with you for some time or coming to visit, typically what you want to do is do on-leash greetings, which can be really tricky because sometimes leashes cause frustration in dogs. So the more that you tug back on the leash, the more likely you are to cause frustration. But it's for safety reasons.

2. Pick a neutral location

You want them to meet in neutral territory. So if you live in a cul-de-sac or a nice street, you want to do it on the street. Have the dogs pass by each other first, and then allow sniffing if they seem okay. Rear-end sniffing, as weird as it looks to us, is actually like shaking hands between dogs. Let them do that as much as possible within reason. You don't want one dog doing it way too much. Ask the dogs to walk away from each other so they can take breaks and then do it again.

3. Head to the backyard, but keep the leashes on

If they seem to be walking nicely and interacting normally on the street, then you can start going into the backyard. And the same thing, you want to introduce them on-leash in the backyard. Have the new dog go in first instead of the resident dog because if they're in the backyard together and the resident dog is already in there, they can guard that space, and they don't want the new dog coming in. So typically, you want the dog that is not their territory to go in first, then the resident dog to go in second.

4. Indoor play, with dropped leashes

If they seem to be interacting okay in the yard, then you can drop leashes and let them play. If that seems to be doing okay then you'll do the same thing in the house. You want to let the new dog come into the house first, then the resident dog follows after. Leave the leashes dragging so that there's a safety. If someone starts a fight, you can grab that leash and pull them apart. 

5. Monitor Closely 

You'll want to monitor the interactions, call anybody away if they seem to get tense. The main thing people do wrong is getting in the middle of a tense situation.  But sometimes that split decision actually causes fights because it startles the dogs.

6. Feed Separately

You always want to feed separately in the beginning until you really know the dogs. My dogs have actually been together for 5 years and I've never fed them together. It's just a safety thing. I would rather them all get fed in their crates where they can see each other but have her own space than worry about them potentially fighting or guarding over food.

A note about supervision:

Some dogs may never be okay to be left alone unsupervised while others will be fine after at least a couple of weeks or months. I always worry about the what-ifs. If one thing goes wrong and you're not there, there's a potential for that to be a disastrous thing.  

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Shannon Wells

Big Barker's Content Director 🐾