When Dogs Meets, Do it Right, Avoid a Dogfight
Each and every day our dogs have plenty of opportunities to make new acquaintances aka meet other dogs.
The difference between those meetings being pleasant or aggressive lies with how we owners approach dog-to-dog introductions.
Unlike people, who walk right up to one another, look each other in the eye and shake hands upon 1st meeting, dogs greet one another differently. A direct frontal approach may cause tension or aggression among 2 dogs, especially unfamiliar dogs.
Dogs are social animals, but they have a defined hierarchy within their own packs. Adding a new dog to the family will disrupt this hierarchy until each dog learns their new place in the pack.
The 1st meeting is incredibly important and can set the stage for the rest of the relationship.
So, in order to help your dog make friends, below is what can help, as follows:
1. Meet One-on-One: Your dog should meet new dogs 1 at a time, as group meetings can be overwhelming. This is a Key reason why some dogs do nnot do well at dog parks.
2. Meet on Neutral Ground: Avoiding setting up the meeting in your dog’s or the other dog’s territory, which may make the dogs feel an intruder is coming in. A Neutral location is best.
3. Let the Dogs Meet Outside: Sometimes a dog will urinate when meeting a new dog, and then walk away to help diffuse tension. The other dog can then sniff the urine and get to know the other dog this way before coming into closer contact. If the meeting is indoors, housetrained dogs will probably avoid urinating and therefore miss out on this important method of introduction.
4. Give the Dogs Room to Roam: Holding an introduction in a tight space can be stressful for the dogs, who will prefer room to move freely. This does not mean you should let your dog run loose, but rather use a leash, and hold the meeting in the middle of your backyard as opposed to near a fence or doorway.
If you can safely do so, drop the leash and let your dog approach the other dog as he wishes. Leave the leash on, however, in case you need to grab it to diffuse tension.
5. Avoid Hovering Over Your Dog: You may want to stay close in case something goes wrong, but hovering over your dog will add to his tension. You should give the dogs space to say hello, and if the situation seems to be getting too stressful, move away from the dogs to lower arousal.
6. Try a Moving Introduction: If you walk purposefully during the introduction (such as between two dogs on a sidewalk), it helps prevent the meeting from getting overly intense.
7. Stay Calm: Your dog will sense your emotions about the meet and respond in suit. If you are nervous, stressed or overly excited, your dog may be too. A better option is to stay calm, breathe slowly and portray a relaxed attitude to your dog.
8. Avoid Bringing Toys or Food: Meeting a new dog is stimulating enough, add in treats and toys and the situation can quickly escalate out of control. Plus, your dog may feel possessive about the food and treats, leading to issues between the dogs.
9. Keep it Short: A few mins is long enough for an initial interaction between 2 unfamiliar dogs. It keeps the meeting fun and interesting while leaving less time for things to get tense. For dogs that are easily stressed, a short meeting will be essential to keep your dog from feeling overwhelmed.
10. Introduce Your Dogs Ahead of Time: It is possible to let dogs become familiar with one another before they actually meet. This can be done by letting your dog smell the other dog’s urine or by keeping them in close vicinity without an actual greeting such as walking 2 dogs side-by-side, but a few feet apart.
If your dog has been rescued from a shelter the transition may take more time.
You should never force any new introductions on a dog that is not ready, allow him to get to know his new mates at his own pace. Senior pets may also need additional time and attention when adjusting to a new pet in your home.
Take your time, do it right, avoid a “Dogfight”
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