Dog Meet and Greet

By Ron Ayalon

You have probably found yourself in this position before: You are walking Petey, your usually well-mannered and friendly dog when he notices a new dog. Whether it's coming towards you, is behind you, or is somewhere off to the side, Petey has noticed him before you. He gets excited, he pulls on the leash, he barks like a maniac, and you drag him off by the neck to avoid the confrontation.

Would it really have been so bad to let Petey meet a new friend? Most likely not. Dogs often become very excited when seeing and smelling a new dog. That does not necessarily mean the introduction will become a nightmare. Introducing two new dogs in the correct way makes all the difference in the world. Unless you know Petey to be aggressive towards other dogs, give the meet and greet a try next time, but follow these guidelines.

1. Know when not to approach another dog. If the other owner is making clear signs of avoidance, like crossing to the other side of the street, then just pass by them. If Petey has been aggressive with other dogs, avoidance is best unless you have a professional trainer working with you.

2. Always ask the other owner if it is OK to approach. You may know that Petey is not a biter, but you know nothing of this other dog. Just call out, "Can they meet?" The other walker will know exactly what you mean and if they give a nod or a yes, you are good to go.

3. Tell this other owner that your dog is Petey and he is friendly, but excited. This will give her the opportunity to introduce you to Luna and any possible quirks she has.

4. No matter how excited he gets or how much Petey pulls on the leash, you should remain calm and relaxed. He feels your energy and reacts accordingly. If the meet up makes you nervous, he can sense that.

5. If possible, get Petey to approach Luna with a butt sniff. This may seem rude to people, but sniffing the butt is like a handshake to dogs. There is no politer way to say hello to someone new. A face-to-face meeting is not necessarily going to be a disaster, but try and guide them to the butt sniff.

6. Once they have gotten that formality out of the way, Petey and Luna will want to sniff each other all over. This is normal as well and should be encouraged.

7. Watch for signs of aggression. Luna's owner may not be as aware as you are, so watch both dogs. Wagging tails are generally good, but not all tail wags are created equal. A stiff, upright tail moving slowly back and forth is a sign of dominance and can lead to aggressive behavior. If either dog is wagging in that way, get them apart. If either dog has the tail down between the legs, that dog is scared and you should stop the introduction.

8. Look for signs that all is well. A happy wag is one in which the tail is a little lower and either lazily moving or twitching excitedly. Another positive sign is if the dogs crouch down with their front legs stretched out and their butts in the air. This is a play signal and is the best sign you can get that Luna and Petey like each other.

Meeting new dogs with Petey can be stressful or potentially terrifying. Two dogs coming together can result in anything from a disaster to a new friend. Take it slowly; be cautious, but relaxed, and read the signals coming from both dogs and disaster should not be the end result. You may even find a new walking buddy for you and Petey.

Ron Ayalon
Article by Ron Ayalon
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