There may be a number of situations in which you would introduce your dog to another dog.

Examples are walks in the neighborhood, hiking in a park, dog sitting for a friend, fostering a dog from the shelter, etc. For whatever the reason we need to understand that not all dogs will be best friends and some dogs just aren’t very social at all. Safety should always be your primary concern (for you and your dog/s), though accidents will happen and we cannot always prevent them. Always work within your comfort zone. If you are uncomfortable about any given situation, stay away from it, if at all possible and seek the help of someone with more experience to help you through the situation.

Every situation may be different, so always be aware and pay attention to what your dog is doing. It may not be your dog in the wrong, but you don’t want them to have a bad experience.

Some of the biggest errors in the handling of dogs is having a tense leash. If your dog cannot approach another dog calmly to greet them, then you will need to work on that separately from the walk.

Introductions on a Casual Walk/Hiking

Always alert and discuss with your foster coordinator before attempting a dog introduction on your own.

If you encounter another dog out on a walk, always ask the owner if you can greet their dog. If yes, continue to the next step. If no, try again another day.

In order for two dogs to greet, the dogs must be relatively calm (not excited and pulling). If either dog is excited and pulling, it would be safest not to greet at that time. Work on calming skills and having your dog focus on you and try again another day.

Once your dog is relatively calm and has good focus, I like the three second rule. Have the dogs greet one another so their noses and rear ends are together so they can smell each other. The entire process should not take more than three seconds.

After three seconds, you want to mark the pleasant encounter by saying “yes” (or whatever your mark happens to be) and offering a treat away from the other dog making encouraging sounds. Try your best not to pull on the leash, though a light tug may be necessary, if the treat does not work.

You will be able to extend the time your dog interacts with that particular dog with each encounter. Brief encounters are always better than extended ones.

We want our dogs to have pleasant experiences with nothing bad happening. There will be times when two dogs appear to be best friends with the first greeting.

Even though they get along great it is far better to keep the encounter short and arrange a play date in a neutral area, so they can play off lead and not be tangled with leashes. Meeting in a neutral area eliminates the possibility of one of the dogs guarding familiar territory.

Always supervise the play, if the play starts to escalate just step in and give them a break. You can add a command cue like “time out” each time you step in.