It's super important to introduce dogs that have never met very slowly, helping both dogs to have a great experience. Sometimes we decide to bring new dogs into our home to live with us. Sometimes we are going to a family member's house for a holiday. We as humans tend to think, "Oh my dog gets along with everyone!" But that is not true, some dogs simply don't like dogs that (insert behavior here). Azul has a pretty hard stare that lots of dogs do not like. Azul doesn't like strange dogs jumping with paws to his face. Several of the younger puppies we've met recently have be been over-excited, jumpy, obnoxious little monsters. LOL Typical puppy behavior, but I limit Azul's exposure to this so that he doesn't feel the need to get grumpy with hyper puppies. All dogs, just like people have things they like and dislike. For some, making new friends is easy but for others it's hard.
I have a set of exercises that I like to do to help dog's greet and I finally had the change to record some of the work involved yesterday with a client's dog and my Yooper Paws Assistant Faith.
Willow, an adolescent of 9-10 months old, has never met my Service Dog & Demo Dog, Azul. Since Willow's human is unable to work on outdoor training and exercise, my Yooper Paws Assistant, Faith joined me for a "tag team" training session.
Rules to Follow When Introducing New Dogs
- Get dogs together in a neutral area that doesn't belong to either dog. We used a park in the neighborhood of the younger dog to help her feel more comfortable.
- Start a long way away from each other.
- Use things in the environment as visual blockers to allow dogs to see it each other but avoiding long term staring.
- If either dog struggles with over-excitement or reactive behavior, you're too close and need to move further away. Work at the dog's emotional speed without rushing it!
- Move closer when one dog is distracted, looking the other direction. Do not walk straight at each other with both dogs looking at each other!
- Practice well known behaviors such as getting focus, u-turns, hand targets & heelwork games. This encourages the dogs to focus more on their person then the other dog.
- Use high value rewards for engaging with their person, ignoring the other dog.
- Parallel walks with lots of distance between in an open field or on opposite sides of the street can be a great way to get dogs moving in the same direction without invading each other's space.
- Use the longest leash or longline that is safest for the dog you have and the environment you are in. This allows for a loser leash giving the dog the choice to move closer to the distraction or further away, which ever makes them feel safest. Then the handler only moves forward when their dog is focused on them.
- Always do the first nose to nose greeting through a barrier of some sorts: Confident dog in a crate, new dog exploring near the crate. A fence at the park with lots of distance on both sides. Baby gates in the house to divide rooms. Be Safe! Use safety measures until dogs have shown that they can co-exist calmly before allowing them to be together in more exciting times.