At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, one of the situations we have to address on a daily basis is dogs properly greeting another dog.
In order to do a proper introduction, there are some key elements that should be adhered to:
First: Before you let the dogs approach, do NOT assume the other dog is friendly with dogs (or people). This sounds like common sense, right? You would be surprised. We train over 65 dogs per week at our facility, many of the dogs are coming to us because of dog aggression, people aggression, etc We always warn the people leaving, “Do not go up to this dog coming in or let your dog go up to him.” People see a Golden Retriever, Lab, etc and just automatically “assume” that it’s friendly. Always ask!
Second: If the owner does give the approval, both of you should do a controlled approach to the each other’s dog. Do NOT just the dogs drag you to each other, remember, you need to show your dog that “you” are in control of the situation. Put them in a heel and stop them (and make them sit) just a couple feet from each other. If you are not able to do this drill, then first you must address your dog’s obedience training.
Third: “Break” (release) your dogs and let them start to sniff each other, you should try to keep minimal to zero tension on the leash. If they feel tension on the leash, this could actually add tension and stress to the dog and make the situation worse.
Fourth: Watch BOTH dogs’ body language! You should be looking for any aggressive signs from either dog. You can read about this in detail in my blog on “Dog’s Body Language.”
Fifth: Try to keep the dogs moving a little and slowly around each other. Again, stiffness in dogs can be because of tension or stress. So, try to keep them moving a little bit, also, this ensures that there is no tension on the leash.
Sixth: I always recommend “one-on-one” approaches with other dogs. I would never let 3, 4, or 5 dogs meet all at once. It would almost be impossible for you to control this situation. You would almost have a “dog park” scenario with multiple dogs, and you can read the blog to see why I think dog parks are a horrible idea.