How to Introduce Dogs
Dog to dog interactions can sometimes be a tough thing, especially if you want the dogs to get along. Will they like each other? How can I best go about introducing them? These are some very good questions.
Signs To Look For
It is good to know a few bits of dog body language so that you can read the dogs being introduced.
Good signs include loose gait and posture, a low wagging tail (depending on the breed), and sniffing.
Signs that the dog(s) are stressed include the dogs not making eye contact, licking their lips or nose, yawning, sniffing the ground, looking away, walking in a curve to greet the other dog. These are all calming signals they could be a sign that the dog displaying them is stressed or that the dog is trying not to be threatening to the other dog.
Signs that the interaction is not and will not go well include a stiff gait, extra tall posture, an erect tail (depending on breed), growling, snapping, lunging, and/or hard stares.
When introducing dogs to each other it is best done on neutral ground. Ground that neither dog thinks he owns or needs to protect. A park or uninvolved neighbors yard are good options.
Having the dogs on leash is a good idea too. But be sure that you aren't putting any tension on the leash. This can be a signal to your dog that he should be tense.
Allow the dogs to sniff. Read their body language to see if they are stressed, feeling threatened, or enjoying the encounter. Encourage and praise the dogs for good behavior. If all goes well move to the next step.
Go for a walk together. Let each dog have a turn leading the way. Practice having them walk parallel to each other as well. Watch their interactions. Are they possessive of anything? Do they startle easily when the other dog appears? If all goes well with the walk move to the next step.
This is where things can get a little dicy. If you are introducing dog 1 and dog 2 in dog 1's home or yard, have dog 2 already in the space. Dogs do better when things are already there vs. bringing things into their space. You might want to keep them on leash for this part too.
Keep an eye on their body language. If all goes well then you should be in the clear! But still use caution especially around food, toys, treats, and even yourself. Some dogs are protective of their people.
Introducing one dog to another can be a bit challenging but well worth it. Remember not all dogs will get along no matter what you do. We shouldn't expect them too. I know that I don't get along with every human in the world. Be smart and read the dogs' body langue to know how things are going between them.