Introducing Unfamiliar Dogs

Introducing Unfamiliar Dogs

Dogs know how to greet unfamiliar dogs off leash, been doing it for millennia but when you introduce humans and leashes, your territory and my territory, this simple introduction can go wrong a few different ways. Here are some simple steps for when you’re introducing unfamiliar dogs and you have no other choice than to use leashes.

  1. Find a neutral location. Start with the dogs on opposite ends of the street and on opposite sides of the street.
  2. Walk towards the other dog. Every time your dog looks at the other dog, mark it with a click or “yes” and give the dog a treat. If at any point, one of the dogs begins to react, u-turn and move further away.
  3. Once you’ve completed two or three drive bys with neither dog reacting, have the handler with the less confident dog, walk behind the handler with the more confident dog.
  4. When everyone is calm and ignoring each other, gradually move into position for a parallel walk. Make sure there’s as much space between the two teams as possible and then move gradually closer to one another.
  5. Once the dogs are walking together, either find a safe location and drop the leashes or walk to your fenced yard and drop the leashes.
  6. You can use the leashes as draglines (the dog drags the leash without you holding it) so that if a scuffle breaks out, you can grab the draglines off the ground and pull the dogs apart. If you have a scuffle, end the session and separate the dogs.
  7. If butt sniffing breaks out, wait for the introduction to end or for play to break out. When both dogs have had enough, walk into the house together.

If one or both of the dogs just can’t walk by one another without barking and lunging, even with a street in between them, you’ll need to find a safe location where the dogs can greet off leash. You may also opt for fixing the dog’s leash reactivity.

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