I was at a Home Dog Training session last week in Braselton with a client and his Sheltie, Sam. Sam had a problem of not paying attention, lacking obedience, jumping, barking, and just doing “annoying things”. After about two hours, we had most of those problems addressed and my client agreed that Sam was on his way to being a great dog. We reviewed some ongoing exercises he need to perform and discussed what we were going to work on at our next dog training lesson. As we wrapped up, my client mentioned that he was having some friends come over next weekend. They were going to bring their dog with them. He was not sure what to do with Sam and asked if I had any suggestions.
For some reason we (humans) feel that all dogs like each other and that they will naturally get along. We normally just let the dogs come up to one another and, if needed, just “let them work it out. As we all know, this can often turn into dog fights or one dog bolting off in a retreating direction; pulling his owner with him. At that moment, we (humans) always blame the other (human) for having a bad dog. Does anyone else besides me see how stupid this is?
Dogs are naturally social animals and they look towards us for guidance and safety. This puts a very important responsibility on us. We have to constantly maintain a leadership role to show our dog that we will protect him and also let him understand that we will never put him in a situation that puts him in harm’s way.
When our dog accepts that we are his leader and caregiver, he will naturally give us focus and respect. He is looking towards us to know what to do next in order to be a proper member of our family and to stay safe. We must also be watching him to understand when he might feel a little anxious and to immediately reassure him that everything is well. We are there and he is safe.
When a strange dog comes into our vicinity, we must take charge of the situation with fortitude and a sense of confidence that we are in charge. We will control the situation and always make sure that our dog is safe. Remember, that is our job and the bond that we are required to maintain between ourselves and our dog. So, how do we accomplish this when greeting a new dog for the first time?
- First of all, we need to remember that when we meet a strange dog, the goal is not to have them immediate best friends. The goal is to keep the situation calm, have our dog focused on us, and to keep him safe.
- I pick a neutral place for both dogs to meet. With this said, I want it familiar for my dog, because the strange dog will eventually be coming into “our home”. I decide on the front yard.
- I have my dog on a leash in the front yard. I walk him around for a bit as the other dog is on a leash with his owner across the street.
- I have the other dog slowly walk up and down the street as I observe my dog. If he is calm and doesn’t display overt or adrenalized interest, I have the other dog slowly, but indirectly approach my front yard.
- I put my dog in a sit as the other dog (always on a short leash with his owner) indirectly approach until they are just in our front yard.
- I now walk my dog in an indirect fashion until we are about twenty feet apart. This is still normally out of either dog’s “this is my zone”. I have him sit again and I observe him for any in trepidation. If I see any fear, I back off and repeat in a slower manner.
- If all is calm, I slowly begin to approach my friend and his dog with mine. I allow my dog to walk on his own on a short leash. I never pull him. If I have to pull him, it is clearly telling me that he is not comfortable in this situation. We back off, wait a few minutes, and repeat.
- Once they are close, I allow both dogs to calmly sniff and greet each other. I always make sure that the leashes never cross. If they suddenly become adrenalized, both myself and my friend need to separate our dogs and this can’t be done if the leashes are crossed and tangled.
- After a few minutes of sniffing, I my friend and I walk our dogs together around the yard, allowing them to sniff and become more comfortable in each others’ company. This is known as socialization.
- If this all goes well, I ask my friend and his dog to remain outside while I take my dog inside to a central point in the house with a clear view of the front door. I ask my dog to sit.
- I now ask my friend to slowly walk inside with his dog. I ask them to slowly approach and stop about ten feet away.
- I repeat the “meet and greet” process that we performed outside by having my dog slowly approach and sniff my friend’s dog. We them walk them around the house together so that we can determine if there are any things in the house that might become negative distractions and cause unwanted behavior.
- After about ten minutes of exploring the house, it is time to drop the leashes.
- We drop the leashes and remain vigilant of our dogs’ behaviors. If one dog becomes adrenalized or too focused on the other, we step on the leashes and redirect each dog back to their perspective owner. Once calm, we drop the leashes and continue.
Remember that if the dogs become overly aggressive at any time during this process, having them together just might not be a good idea. In this case, they should stay separated for their safety and the safety of the entire family. If this happens, don’t think that you have lost because the dogs don’t like each other.
We can never be sure of all our dog’s associations or prior experiences. Because of this, we can’t be sure that our friend’s dog may look like a dog that constantly threatened him at an earlier stage in life or is demonstrating actions that are antagonistic towards our dog. What we do have complete control over is what our dog is telling us right now about the situation. We need to take heed of our dog’s communication with us in order to maintain our role as leader and caregiver.
Taking it slow in order to give us time to observe our dog’s feelings about greeting another dog is the key to proper canine introduction.
Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Braselton Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Braselton Georgia.