How to Safely Introduce Your Dog to Other Dogs

Given that our canine companions are a social species, you may suppose introducing two canine can be a easy matter of turning them free collectively and letting them care for the remaining. If solely it have been so?! If you might have ever been current when a canine meet-and-greet instantly exploded right into a whirlwind of growling, snarling, lunging canine, you might be most likely conscious there may be extra to it than simply “Go play!”

 Certainly, there are some canine who’re so socially adept that they will simply meet and greet new canine playmates with ease, however a big share of our canine can profit from some help to impact profitable introductions. 


So then, how do you efficiently introduce your canine to new canine mates? 

For starters, you’ll need one handler per canine. One expert handler, that’s. Someone who panics and intervenes unnecessarily can botch the entire job by including stress to canine who’re nonetheless checking out relationships. 

Barring expert handlers, no less than discover handlers who’re good at following directions and don’t succumb simply to hysterical conduct. If you’ll be able to’t discover these, you’re higher off with fewer handlers, though you need to have no less than one different individual current, if for no different purpose than to name 9-1-1 if the state of affairs will get out of hand.

You most likely have already got a fairly good sense of your personal canine’s canine social abilities, and hopefully the opposite canine’s individual does as properly. Do they play properly with others on the canine park? During playtime at good manners class? With their very own canine members of the family? How do they act with doggie guests to their houses? During probability encounters with different canines on the streets?

If you’re not moderately assured that introductions will go easily, you may do properly to interact the providers of a certified conduct skilled to assist your canine meet new mates, no less than the primary time or two. She might be in a position that will help you learn and perceive the canine’ physique language and optimize the potential for fulfillment.


Your finest guess is to discover a impartial, safely fenced, outside space wherein to start the connection. Indoors is simply too cramped and confining – a less-than assured canine can simply really feel trapped as the opposite canine backs her right into a nook. Wide open areas are inclined to work higher. 

A impartial spot (neither canine’s house) is right, in order that neither canine feels defensive of his yard or individuals. If you’ll be able to’t discover impartial, your personal yard may work, so long as your canine doesn’t have a historical past of reactive conduct in that area. 

But perhaps you don’t have a safely fenced yard, or your canine does have a historical past of reactive conduct in your yard. A big, uncluttered storage or warehouse area may work. Perhaps a pal, neighbor, or co-worker has a fenced yard you’ll be able to borrow for a bit. 

Absolutely No Nose-to-Nose, Leashed Greetings!

The Labrador on the appropriate is a gregarious, pleasant canine who will get overexcited each time he sees different canine – and extremely annoyed when he can’t dive in and greet them boisterously. Unfortunately for him, many canine misread his “incoming missile” strategy as an assault, and he’s provoked many canine into defensive aggression. Leashed, nose-to-nose greetings like this simply add to his frustration.

It appears intuitive that it might be safer to carry your canine’s leash throughout greetings, so you’ll be able to separate the canine simply if it doesn’t go properly. However, there are a variety of the reason why this apply is fraught with hazards (and why I don’t permit this at Peaceable Paws, my coaching middle):

* Leashes limit a canine’s potential to behave naturally throughout greeting. If a canine is unsure about assembly one other, she may usually transfer away. But if she is restrained by a leash and is aware of she can’t transfer away, she’s extra prone to behave defensively aggressive. In a traditional, leash-free greeting, canine may circle and sniff, retreat, after which strategy once more. Leashes get in the best way of all that – and in addition tangle rapidly if one canine instantly tried to provoke play – and the opposite canine may panic on the sudden proximity she’s pressured into by the tangle. Ack!

* A decent leash provides stress, and stress causes aggression. I’ve seen multiple greeting that gave the impression to be going properly till one or each people tightened their leashes and – increase! – triggered an aggressive response from their canine.

* Routine on-leash greetings can create an expectation on your canine that she is going to be capable of greet each canine she sees. This could end in frustration reactivity on these events when she isn’t instantly allowed to satisfy and greet. Often, these canine get alongside fantastically with others off-leash on the canine park, however turn into extraordinarily aroused – even at a substantial distance – when they’re on leash and see one other canine that they will’t run as much as greet. I’d estimate that about one-third of the canine who come to my Reactive Rover workshops exhibit this frustration reactivity. These are nearly invariably canine who incessantly have been allowed to do on-leash greetings with different canine.


With the area secured, the method I exploit and advocate to purchasers is to start out with canine on leashes on reverse sides of the enclosed area. Keep the leashes free, if potential. Watch the canine’ conduct. They ought to appear fascinated with one another, alert with out extreme arousal. Ideally, you’ll see tails wagging at half-mast, tender, wriggling physique postures, play bows, ears again, squinty eyes, and no direct, arduous eye contact. These are clear expressions of non-aggressive social invitation.

Warning indicators embody stiffness within the physique, standing tall, ears pricked arduous ahead, growling, arduous direct eye-contact, stiffly-raised fast-wagging tails, even perhaps lunging on the leash, and aggressive barking.

If you see applicable social conduct, proceed with the strategy till the canine are about 10 toes aside. If they proceed to indicate unambiguous indicators of friendliness, drop the leashes and allow them to meet. 

Yes, I mentioned drop the leashes. I desire to not let canine meet and greet with handlers holding the leashes. Leashes are inclined to intervene with the canine’ potential to greet usually, and may really induce canine to provide false physique language alerts. For instance, a decent leash can stiffen and lift a canine’s entrance finish, inflicting her to look extra tense and offensive than she means to be, which in flip may cause the opposite canine to react offensively. A defensive canine who desires to retreat could really feel trapped due to the leash and act aggressively as a result of she will’t transfer away.

Leave leashes on the canine initially, dragging freely on the bottom, so you’ll be able to seize them and separate canine simply if crucial. 

Keep monitoring the greeting. You are prone to see some regular jockeying for place and a few pressure, as they sniff and circle after which erupt into play. 

As quickly as you’ll be able to inform that they’re getting alongside, take away their leashes and allow them to play unencumbered. 

Choose Your Dog’s Friends Wisely

When you choose your canine’s playmates, it’s vital to contemplate what kind of canine may make good persona matches – and which is perhaps a catastrophe.

If your canine likes to claim herself, you’re clever to decide on a play pal who’s comfortable to keep up a decrease profile. If your canine is a shrinking violet, she’ll be happiest with a brand new companion who doesn’t come on like a freight practice or bully her playmates mercilessly. If you might have a kind of canine gems who will get together with everybody, then you might have extra playmate choices. If you need your gem to have the ability to be “queen of the hill,” then search for tender, appeasing-type canine mates. 

If you don’t care the place your easygoing canine results in the brand new relationship, then you might have your entire canine persona continuum to select from. Of course, you need to keep away from dog-aggressive canine who may give yours a nasty expertise that might shade her future canine relationships.


Watch that the play doesn’t escalate into extreme arousal (which might result in aggression) however keep in mind that it’s regular and acceptable for canine to growl and chunk one another in play. As lengthy as each canine appear to be having fun with the motion, it’s factor. 

If arousal ranges escalate, particularly if one canine begins to seem involved in regards to the arousal stage, cheerfully name the canine away from one another for a chilled time-out. Take a break till they’re each fairly calm, then launch them to play once more.

If you see warning indicators as you strategy with the canine on leash, you’ll have to go extra slowly. If you observe conduct that appears like outright reactivity or aggression, you’ll have to make a judgment name about whether or not the depth of the conduct is such that it’s good to cease and search skilled help, or delicate sufficient which you could proceed with warning.

If you do resolve to proceed, interrupt extended arduous eye contact by having every handler divert her canine’s consideration with bits of tasty treats. Continue to work with the canine in one another’s presence, awaiting indicators of lowering arousal. 

Walk across the accessible area with the canine at most distance, progressively bringing them nearer collectively till they’re strolling parallel to one another. You may take them for a stroll across the block, sustaining secure parallel distance. It’s vital that you simply keep calm and relaxed throughout this course of. If you jerk or tighten the leash, badger one or each of the canine with a continuing stream of warnings (“No … no! Be nice! Don’t even think about it! No growling!” and so on.), or yell at them, you’ll add stress to the state of affairs and make it tougher for them to chill out. 

When you see indicators that the canine have relaxed with one another, spend just a few (or a number of) extra minutes sitting quietly close to one another, far sufficient aside the canine aren’t making an attempt to work together. When they proceed to seem moderately relaxed, you could select to finish the introduction in the meanwhile. Do a number of extra on-leash classes over a interval of a number of days earlier than dropping leashes. Alternatively, you could resolve to proceed with dropped-leash greetings. This is the place your expertise and instincts come into play. It’s usually higher to err on the facet of warning and do a number of extra on-leash classes to verify the canine are comfy with one another. 

Again, in the event you’re not assured in your judgment about canine physique language, you could select to enlist the assistance of an expert at this level. 


Keep in thoughts that whereas canine are a social species, people are, too – and we don’t get together with everybody we meet! It’s unreasonable to anticipate our canine to wish to play with each canine they meet. Respect your canine’s opinion and don’t attempt to power a relationship between on a canine who’s clearly saying “I don’t want to hang out with that guy!”

If tensions between the canine escalate or keep on the identical stage of depth regardless of your on-leash work over a number of classes, the clever selection could also be to search for a unique playmate. If, nonetheless, you are attempting to introduce your canine to a canine that you simply actually hope will turn into a appropriate pal – maybe as a result of the canine belongs to pal, courting accomplice, relative, or co-worker (within the case of canine who come to work), or even perhaps one you’re contemplating adopting – this is able to be time to do ongoing work with a conduct skilled to attempt to make the connection work, understanding that administration could also be a big a part of the connection for the foreseeable future.

Be cautious in the event you see no interplay between the 2 canine you’re making an attempt to introduce. What seems to be calm acceptance could in reality be avoidance conduct – neither canine is comfy with the opposite, and so they select to cope with it by not coping with it. The drawback with that is that in the end the canine will work together in the event that they’re in one another’s presence incessantly, and the discomfort could properly turn into aggression. I actually wish to see some interplay between canine to be able to be comfy that they may play properly collectively.


I’ve had purchasers ask me, “If dogs are a social species, why don’t they all just get along with each other?” My response is, “We humans are a social species, and we certainly don’t all get along!” 

Fortunately, nearly all of our canine can have canine playmates, though we generally want to assist them be mates. Even canine who don’t usually do properly with different canine can, with cautious introductions, be taught to simply accept new canine family and friends members. And when you’ve got a canine who can’t, settle for him for who he’s. He’ll most likely be a lot happier in the event you cease making an attempt to get him to love different canine. 

More Tips for Successful Introductions

Here are some extra issues you are able to do to extend your potential for profitable introductions:

✔ Exercise each canine earlier than initiating introductions. Happy, drained canine usually tend to work together properly than those that are bursting with vitality.

✔ Be positive to take away toys and different high-value chew objects from the introduction space to reduce potential for guarding incidents. 

✔ Use additional warning when introducing a pet to an grownup canine to keep away from bodily damage or psychological trauma to your pup. While many grownup canine acknowledge the significance of being mild with child canine, some don’t. Some will play too roughly and a few might be actively aggressive. A foul expertise with an excessively exuberant playmate or an aggressive canine can have a big damaging affect on a pup’s future social conduct. 

✔ Use additional warning when introducing a brand new canine to a senior canine, particularly if the brand new canine is a excessive vitality adolescent or a pet. Protect the senior canine from being bodily broken – bumped, bruised, body-slammed, or knocked over by a rambunctious pup. Keep the teen on leash or use child gates to maintain them separated till the pup learns to modulate his conduct across the fragile, maybe grumpy senior. Geriatric canine shouldn’t need to defend themselves from overwhelming attentions from fractious children. Unless this can be a new canine you might be introducing to your personal household, you might be higher off choosing extra applicable playmates.

✔ Consider measurement. Noted coach and conduct skilled Jean Donaldson recommends not more than a 25-pound distinction in measurement between canine in a family or play relationship. More than that, she warns, and also you danger damage to the smaller canine if the bigger one is simply too energetic or aroused. 

✔ When working with notably giant or sturdy canine, or canine who’ve been concerned in any previous incidents involving aggression, it’s a good suggestion to have some instruments inside straightforward attain, in case it’s good to interrupt an aggressive interplay. These instruments may embody:

• Loud noises, comparable to a loud yell, banging two steel pans collectively, or a marine air horn.

• Aversive sprays, comparable to lemon juice in a twig bottle, Halt! canine repellent spray, or a blast from a hose or a fireplace extinguisher.

• A separating board. Keep your fingers out of the hazard zone through the use of a bodily object to interrupt up a battle. (You need to plan for this prematurely.) Attach two handles to a sheet of plywood. When a battle occurs, decrease the board between the sparring canine. The board will push them aside and supply a bodily barrier between them to stop a brand new seize. 

• Blankets. Tossed over fighters, one over every, blankets muffle exterior stimuli, decreasing arousal. This additionally permits people to bodily separate the combatants by selecting up the pups-in-a-blanket and pulling them aside with much less danger of a critical chunk; the blanket will cushion the impact of tooth on pores and skin if the canine does whirl and chunk. 

• A “parting stick” (also called a “break stick”). This software could be inserted into the mouth of a canine who received’t unclench his jaws and let go of one other canine. Often carved from a wooden hammer deal with, the stick is tapered to a rounded level at one finish. When canine are locked in fight, the parting stick is pressured between a canine’s tooth and turned sideways to pry open the jaws. Caution: Parting sticks can break tooth, and a canine whose jaws have simply been “parted” could activate the individual doing the parting. 

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