Puppy or Dog Dog Introductions
Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Puppy or Dog Dog Introductions
This article is geared to puppy or dog-dog introductions for those who do not live in the same household.
Long long time ago in a galaxy far away when I first started training, I had a dog – Chadwick, who is the dog in my logo – who didn’t particularly want to be around puppies. We would go to the dog park and puppies would run up to him wanting to play.
The first thing he did was stare at them. They didn’t go away. So he lifted his lip and snarled. They still didn’t go away. Then he nailed them – he never hurt them, but they definitely went away.
I didn’t know as much about dog behavior and training as I do now, so I went to several seminars and asked the speakers why my dog – who was a super dog in every other way – hated puppies.
The speakers asked what happened, and I told them.
They all looked at me in disbelief – “Your dog gives them 2 warnings to back off, they don’t listen, and then he nails them without hurting them? Their owners should be paying Chadwick for teaching their puppies a valuable lesson since it’s normal for an adult dog to correct a puppy.”
Lesson learned for me – not every dog likes puppies, and for that matter, not every dog likes other dogs. Just like I don’t like every person that I meet.
Puppy- or Dog-Dog Introductions – Preliminaries
So what can you do to make puppy or dog-dog introductions go as smoothly as possible?
Here’s a no-brainer. First, determine whether the other dog wants to meet or interact with your dog or puppy. It’s best if the owner is an acquaintance of yours (and/or you know the dog) so you can simply ask her if her dog is good with other dogs. A stranger owes you no allegiance – and not too many people want to admit that their dogs are not good with other dogs – so you may not get a true answer.
Second, each owner should rub their scent over their own bodies with a towel (or you can use a dirty T-shirt) and then all over their respective dogs’ bodies, including their dogs’ butts since that’s where the dogs sniff to get information. I doubt whether you would want to rub the towel on your dogs first, but who am I to judge?
Third, choose neutral territory that’s relatively free of distractions. That means on the street or in a large area. You don’t want to meet at one of your homes because you don’t want any doggie territorial infringements.
Fourth, choose a time when both dogs are fairly mellow, have eaten a meal, and are not jumping around with excitement or anticipation.
How to do the Introductions
Remember that smelly towel or T-shirt? Immediately before your dogs officially meet, swap towels and rub the towel all over the other dog’s body, including their butts so that when the dogs finally do meet, each dog has a familiar smell.
Start walking parallel to each other about 20 feet apart in the same direction with both dogs on leash.
Whenever one dog looks at the other, tell him he is a good dog and give him a treat.
Slowly – and I mean slowly – decrease the distance between you and the other team (Decrease the distance only if both dogs are comfortable.
Remember to breathe! You can talk to the other owner.) until you are about 6 feet apart. Continue walking 6 feet apart until you are confident that the dogs want to meet and greet.
When to do the actual Introduction
Watch the dogs’ body language. You want to see loosey-goosey body language and not see any of the following:
Staring with a hard eye (fixed stare where the eyelids tighten and the eyes look cold)
Hackles are raised
Body is tense and freezes
Body leans forward as it gets ready to pounce
Ears are tight and either move to the side or are forward
Mouth puckers showing teeth
Watch both dogs and make sure that each of them is comfortable. Then let them approach each other with each dog on a loose leash. If the leash is tight, that may increase stress. The leashes will probable get tangled so you’ll have to untangle – but don’t drop them.
Let them interact for a couple minutes if everything is okay, and then call your dog away. A good recall is quite helpful, but if your dog doesn’t have one, then pull him away.
Continue walking with both dogs about 6 feet away and let them meet each other again. A good sign is that both dogs go into a play bow. If they do, then take them to an enclosed area and walk them in together at the same time. Drop the leashes but keep them attached in case you have to separate the dogs.
Let them play for a few minutes. Break up the session if one dog wants to leave but the other won’t let him leave.
Good puppy or dog play is when they change – one dog is the chaser while the other is the chasee, or if they’re wrestling, one dog is on top and then they reverse.
Always always always supervise when they are together.
Please read my other articles on puppy socialization and training.
Begin Puppy Socialization as soon as You Can
History of Puppy Socialization
Importance of puppy socialization, habituation, and enrichment
Puppy Socialization and Immunization
Precursor to Puppy Socialization - One Hour in the Lives of my Dogs
My book on puppy socialization
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Disclaimer: This article is for information only. It does not replace a consultation with a dog trainer, dog behavior consultant, or veterinarian and may not be used to diagnose or treat any conditions in your dog.
If you need help with puppy or dog training, we do both private in-person and virtual lessons via Zoom. Please contact us by calling or texting (310) 804-2392 or sending an email to caryl@DoggieManners.com . We look forward to working with you.