Although dogs are pack animals by design, there is no guarantee that two dogs will like each other at first meet. An improper first introduction between dogs could end up in a trip to the emergency vet for one or both parties. Luckily, there are steps you as an owner can take to make sure that your dog is properly introduced to a potential new friend, whether that friend is a temporary acquaintance or a new family member.
Know Your Dog
This may seem like a simple concept, but it is by far the most important. Unfortunately, this isn’t always a clear-cut ideal, but it is a good place to start. If you have had your dog for a while, you should have some idea as to your dog’s temperament. If you know that your dog is very dog-aggressive, introductions to new dogs should probably be avoided or very carefully maintained. There is little that can not be trained out of a dog, but training in such cases should be in carefully monitored, muzzled situations with a dog trainer near.
Stay on Leash
When first introducing two dogs to each other, keep each dog on a leash. This gives you, as the owner, control over the situation if things escalate. It also helps to prevent one dog from getting over excited and moving too quickly over the other dog’s personal boundaries. While you have your dog on the leash, make sure to keep a secure hold so that you can slowly allow your dog more space to move towards the other dog. This will allow the dogs to slowly get used to each other. And of course, this gives you the ability to quickly pull your dog away if a fight occurs.
For example, put up a baby gate and keep one dog on each side of the gate. This allows them some access to each other but prevents any damage if things quickly escalate. This is especially good to use in situations where the leash greet has gone well, but you don’t trust the dogs alone together just yet. This may also be a quick fix in situations where a leash greet isn’t possible.
Keep it Low-Key
If you are introducing your dog to another pack (more than one other dog), then keep in mind that it is best to introduce each separately. Keep the other dogs locked up or, if possible, out of sight while introductions are happening. Allow your dog to get used to the first dog, then switch out with another, and continue rotating until your dog is used to each other dog.
Please note that this process can go quickly, or it can take some time. Once you are ready to start merging them together, continue to go slowly. Add one other dog, allow them to adjust, and then add a third and so forth. Just because two dogs are fine together doesn’t mean that the situation won’t rapidly change when the dogs are together in a pack. As with every step of the process, it’s good to move slowly and really observe the dogs together. Only move forward once you can be sure that the dogs get along fine.
Keep At It
Don’t be discouraged if the meet and greet isn’t going well at first. Allow the dogs some time apart (in different homes if possible and necessary) and then try again. For some dogs, this process can be quick and easy. Sometimes, however, it’s not so simple. With time, patience, and maybe some obedience training, most dogs can eventually live harmoniously together.
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