Choose the Right Meeting Place
When choosing a meeting location, keep the following in mind:
- Ensure both dogs don’t feel defensive or protective of their environment.
- Adequate Space. Host your introductions in an area that provides both dogs plenty of room.
Secure each dog on a leash and hold them 10 feet apart as you walk. Allow dogs to show interest in each other. Once both dogs seem comfortable, begin moving closer together. Separate the dogs if you notice signs of discomfort.
Eventually you should allow the dogs to meet by sniffing each other all over. It is especially important to be watching for signs of discomfort during this initial interaction. Signs of discomfort in dogs can be:
- Stiff body
- Hair along the back raised
- Licking lips
- Baring teeth
- Intense staring
Ideally, both dogs should be interested in each other and eager to meet. Be sure to be watching for signs of a friendly dog before moving on. Signs of a friendly dog include:
- Relaxed, loose, and wiggly body
- Fast tail wagging
- Play bowing or jumping
- Soft eyes and an open mouth
Once you see signs of this during the leash introduction from both dogs, you can begin to proceed to step number two. If at any time you don’t feel comfortable, stop the session. Remember, it’s okay to go slow during this introduction.
Dropping the Leash
Once you and your pups feel confident and comfortable, it’s time to drop the leash. Ideally, you should calmly drop the leash for both dogs and watch their body language and how they interact.
If you feel that one or both dogs are getting too excited, calmly grab each dog’s leash and redirect their focus with treats. As soon as you feel the dogs are calm and relaxed, try again. Once you feel comfortable with the dogs interacting and the leashes dragging, you can remove the leashes. Be sure to keep them nearby and use them as needed if things get wild. Remember: Don’t rush anything! You can have short play sessions as frequently as time and your dogs will allow.
Allow Yard Playtime
Before allowing the dogs in the yard, pick up toys, sticks and anything else that your dog may consider theirs. Next, calmly bring your existing dog in on a leash and let them smell. Wait until they are calm, then bring in the new dog on a leash. Go back to step one and slowly re-introduce the dogs to one another. Again, watching their body language. If they begin to play on the leash/remove the leash.
Separate the two dogs if you notice signs of discomfort, fear, or anxiety.
Begin Indoor Playtime
Pick up toys, bones, food bowls, and anything else that might cause your dog to become territorial. Next, put both dogs on a leash and bring them inside. Allow the dogs to sniff each other and interact again.