Dog-to-Dog Introductions
1,, dog illustrations by Ann Ranlett,
Introducing two dogs who have never met each other can be scary! However, some patience and an eye
toward understanding dog body language can go a long way in promoting positive interactions between
two dogs meeting for the first time.
Opposites Attract
Male-Female pairs tend to have fewer problems. On the other hand, conflict is more likely to happen
between two intact dogs of the same gender. Hormones do play a role in determining how one dog
responds to another dog, so be extra careful when introducing dogs of the same gender. That being said,
dogs are all individuals, and ultimately they choose who they like and donít like. Even dogs of opposite
genders can get into tiffs and fights, so always be diligent during interactions.
Start on Neutral Territory
Have another person help you take the dogs for a walk on neutral territory. A casual, relaxed 20 minute
side-by-side (but not too close!) stroll can go a long way toward acclimating the dogs to one another. Note
each dogís body language. Is either dog stiff. Are hackles raised. Tails tucked or held high and stiff. If so,
calmly increase the distance between each dog until both dogs are fully relaxed.
If you suspect that one or both dogs might take time to warm up to the new dog, exercise each dog
individually (and out of sight of each other) for about 15 to 20 minutes before you have them meet one
another for a side-by-side stroll. Exercising a dog helps to relieve pent-up energy and makes the dog less
likely to want to start trouble.
On Leash Introductions
Never introduce dogs on leash with a direct head-on, nose-to-nose greeting. Dogs don't usually approach
one another straight on when allowed to act freely off leash. While an initial greeting should be on leash in
case either dog objects, it's best to try to mimic free movement without getting leashes tangled when doing
on leash introductions. Always make sure collars and leashes are secure. Allow dogs to approach each other
from the side, sniff a few moments, and then move on, ending the brief on leash introduction while things
are going well. Keep leashes loose and untangled at all times unless you have to pull a dog away due to an
aggressive reaction from one dog. Never yank a dog away from another dog unless you need to do so for
safety reasons. Yanking a dog away from another dog can provoke an aggressive reaction. Instead, move
forward, in line with the dog, and call the dog happily to you like you're continuing on your walk.