Whether you are dog sitting a friend’s pet for an overnight or you are introducing a new furry friend to the family, first time doggy introductions can be tricky. Even if your dogs are the friendliest and most well-behaved creatures on the planet (as all of our pets are of course), being careful and prepared with new introductions is important. While many dog introductions can go perfectly smoothly without the help of their owners, a little preparedness and orchestration from the humans can help. Rather than risking a doggy scuffle or something even more serious follow these few practiced tips when introducing new dog friends.
Get to Know Them
Firstly, you want to be sure that you are properly introduced to all of the canine parties involved. If you don’t know the dog or dogs that you are dealing with, you won’t have a comfortable idea of what to expect from them. Take some time to introduce yourself to the dogs that you are unfamiliar with. Get to know them and let them get to know you some. You should pay attention to the new dog’s temperament during your introduction. Are they timid? Are they slightly more aggressive? Observing how the dog interacts with you for the first time can give you an indication of how they may act with your dog.
Pick the Right Environment
You’ll want to work out what the best location is to first introduce the new friends to each other. It is usually a good idea to pick a neutral spot. This means that you should not take the new dog immediately into your existing dog’s territory. However, this can depend highly on the temperament and personality of the dogs involved of course. If one dog is significantly more nervous and skittish than then other pet, but shows absolutely no aggression, it may be best to choose a familiar environment for that pet to make the introductions. Typically, the best location is a neutral one. When I pet sit friends’ dogs at my house, I always make the introductions in the front yard because it is not a territorial area for my dogs.
Understand the Situation
You should think carefully about how your dog has responded to unfamiliar dogs in the past. When you are on walks, does your dog bark aggressively at dogs? Do they act differently when they are at a dog park off of the leash? The leash can play an important role in how your dog responds to a new situation. Some dogs feel more threatened when they are tethered to a leash and will react more defensively. Other dogs may feel safer leashed. You should try to understand what types of situations make your pet most comfortable and then create that situation for the doggy introduction. I like to immediately take the dogs on a walk after they initially meet. This helps the dogs do something familiar and enjoyable together. They can interact with one another, but the focus of the event is not the interaction between the two dogs. Also, a good walk is a great way to burn off some of that initial nervous or excited energy the dogs may have.
When You Are Nervous about Introductions
While many of these techniques can be extremely useful when introducing unfamiliar pets, there are times and situations where professional help can be important or necessary. If you are uncomfortable introducing your dog to other dogs and it has become a problem, there are many professional dog trainers who can offer some knowledge and support on the issue. Aggressive and defensive dogs can be challenging to manage for those who are less knowledgeable about pets and training. If you find yourself at a standstill or you’re nervous about introducing your dog to other dogs, contact a trainer for help.