Does your dog like a quiet life? Do they become overwhelmed by social activities? Do they need time to recuperate and relax after seeing other dogs? Do they prefer you to touch them on their terms? Yes, they may be considered to be introverted personality. They may be hypersensitive to their environment and need their guardian to be sensitive to their needs when introducing new and novel situations.
Or is your dog the opposite? Does your dog like a busy life? Will your dog entertain themselves if you do not give them your full attention? Do they thrive on meeting new canine friends and going to new places? Would you describe them as bouncy, gregarious and generally a bit over-excited? Your dog may be considered to be an extrovert. They will need plenty of interaction from you – food, toys, games, affection are key to keeping your dog happy and constructive.
Dogs are a highly sociable species and usually like hanging out with other dogs.
Our dogs are all unique individuals, just like us. While some may look like each other, they are all completely different when it comes to personality and how they behave. Each dog has their own mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
This may be affected by their breed, age, character and personality. It is therefore important that we consider this when we are introducing dogs to one another. We must create positive associations between our dog and another to prevent a traumatic, single event learning from occurring.
Introductions can be planned or unplanned. The ones that we can plan are much easier to manage. We can think about introducing our dogs to each other using scent. We can take a blanket that our dog has lain on to the other dog before the introduction and do vice versa for the other dog. This allows each dog to learn information about each other before they meet.
This is only possible if we know there is going to be an imminent meeting e.g. a new puppy or rescue dog coming to meet an existing household dog, a friend planning to visit our home and bring their dog, wanting to go to visit family and they have dogs. Scent can be a fantastic way of introducing dogs. You can even pop an article in a plastic bag and send it to your family/friend in preparation for a meeting if they live further away.
But what about meetings that can’t be planned for? Meeting stranger dogs in the park? How do we help our dogs with these situations? Well, we teach them to have polite introductions that’s how.
Always use ‘Polite Greeting Protocol’ to introduce new playmates to your dog. Ideally, your dog should wear a harness and a long line during initial play sessions. Neck biting, holding, body slamming, high arousal levels, pinning, head over neck and shoulders, t-shaping, growling with bared teeth, barking in faces is NOT allowed during greetings.
Polite Greeting Protocol
Warm Up Exercise
When the other dog is not present practice walking your dog at your heel. When your dog is paying you attention reward them with food or a toy for staying beside you.
Parallel Walk Together
When your dog is focused on you and relaxed have your play partner and their dog walk parallel to you. Ensure the distance is sufficient that your dog is not paying attention to the other dog.
Reward your dog for staying by your side and being calm
Decrease The Distance
If your dog maintains a level of calm, gradually decrease the distance between you and your play partner by a couple of feet. If your dog does not remain calm, then work at the present distance until your dog is once calm and focused on you
Repeat Distance Reduction
Continue to decrease the distance between the two dogs by a couple of feet every couple of yards that you walk. Reward good behaviour as you go.
Once the dogs are close enough to each other that they can almost touch, stop and cue your dog to “say hi”. Have your play partner do the same thing with their dog. Allow your dogs to sniff each other for 2-seconds and then call them away.
Keep On The Move
Once the dogs have introduced themselves, cue both dogs to their ‘heel’ positions and continue the walk with both dogs walking side by side. If you are confident that both dogs are happy around each other, you may let them off the lead.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice this with a few suitable playmates in different locations to teach your dog how to greet dogs nicely. Build a Canine Address Book – a list of dogs that your dog likes to meet. Remember dogs do not have to like every dog they meet. You don’t like everyone you meet. Naturally, your dog is the same. When we are armed with the knowledge of who our dog likes, we are setting them up to have pleasant encounters when you are out and about.
One final word, please respectful of other dog guardians and their dogs. If your dog is off the lead and you see another dog on a lead – clip your dog on their lead until you pass each other. There may be a good reason why the other dog is on their lead. They may be reactive to dogs, having had a previous difficult encounter; they may not be very well. They may have just come to live with a new guardian and are fearful of a new environment. They may be old and not happy to play anymore because bumps and scrapes hurt. There are hundreds of different reasons. The fact is you do not know. It is polite to follow the rule, pop your dog on their lead until dogs know each other. It is just good manners. We all need those.
I offer individually tailored 1-2-1 Canine Coaching Sessions which will help you develop your dog’s social etiquette.
Each session is 1-2 hours long and includes a follow-up email report and telephone support.
Sessions start at £45, packages are available for multiple sessions.