How to let your dog meet other dogs safely

Our dogs will inevitably come in contact with other dogs. This blog post is designed to help owners allow their dog to safely interact with other dogs and address common questions.

Read time: 4 mins

Whether it be at dog daycare, walking on the street, or bringing a new dog home. Is there something common between these that as owners we should always do?

Patience and knowing your dog’s body language is most important!

There are some dogs who won’t ever want to meet other dogs, and there’s some dogs who will be social butterflies.

In general, know who your dog is and tailor their interactions accordingly. Some will enjoy the environment of doggy daycare and some would much prefer to be on their own, so you need to understand who your dog is.

If your dog is reactive or aggressive in the company of other dogs it is always best to seek professional help from a qualified behaviourist. 

Is your dog timid or fearful and unsure of other dogs?  Giving them the time to build their confidence and learning how to focus on something positive is important. There is no quick fix and time and patience is key. You can try walking in an open park, a distance from other dogs while distracting them by saying “look at me” and rewarding with a treat. The more they see that nothing scary will happen while being near other dogs the more they will become confident in that situation. 

Let’s say we’re bringing a new dog home to meet our other dog. How should we stage their first meeting?

Your dog’s house – your home – should not be the first place the encounter happens. That’s likely to encourage territorial behaviour. An unknown dog appearing on your dog’s turf will more likely incite defensive behaviour and make them want to protect what’s theirs.

Meet on neutral ground and let the dogs passively gather information without putting pressure on them to interact. In a quiet park or even by going for a walk together. However if you’re introducing a puppy to an older dog walking together might prove to be difficult given the puppy wont know how to walk on the lead and may in fact antagonise the older dog by jumping and trying to play. A safe neutral space is best. 

Attaching long lines or leaving leads on but trailing on the ground is the easiest way to resume control if the energy is getting to high and you need to pull one of them back. Short bursts and leaving it at a good place is better than energy levels escalating into an argument.

Tips for meeting dogs in public places.

When they do meet other dogs and are on a lead, good practice to get into is letting the lead become loose. This way they won’t feel restricted when they go up for a sniff to say hello. If you’re at a stage of them being off lead and their recall is good keep an eye on their body language, and that of the other dog. Be ready to call them back to you. Keep those first meeting interactions super-brief, a maximum three seconds. Let your dog have a quick sniff then call them to you, “Rover Come, Good Dog” and move on. Having treats with you for rewarding them is an excellent idea.

This will help your dog to disconnect from things, and just move on with you. So it becomes an automatic behaviour for them. Better to practice this in a quieter park too, as anyone knows when walking in parks that picnickers share there are plenty of distractions.

In conclusion

Each dog is going to be different.

Let their personality dictate how you interact with them, and how they interact with others.  Work within your dogs limitations and boost their confidence slowly.

Doggy Daycare’s aren’t for every dog but finding one like Darlo Dogs where they give individual attention is important for a well balanced dog. We work with your dog to slowly build confidence and give them the time and space they need. Never forcing a dog to play. (read our post about socialising puppies).  

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