One of the most important parts of socialising your dog is introducing him or her to other dogs. This should be done frequently throughout your dog’s life, but is most important in the formative months and during puppyhood. If experiences with other dogs are mainly positive, your dog will learn to look forward to playtime with his or her doggy friends.
HOW TO INTRODUCE
Let your dog meet as many different breeds, ages and sizes of dogs as possible, as often as possible. It is impossible to control dog to dog interactions so try to make sure your dog meets dogs you know that are sociable and friendly.
Always introduce new dogs to one another on neutral territory. Never bring a strange dog straight into your house or garden, and don’t introduce them immediately outside your house – this is your dog’s territory and he or she may well defend it. If you intend to have doggy playtime at your house, meet at the park first of all and introduce them there.
Give the dogs plenty of space, and never force them to interact. If it is safe to introduce them off-lead, this is the best possible scenario. Never allow your off-lead dog to approach an on-lead dog, and always check with other dog owners before you let dogs interact.
It is common for dog games to look very rough, and to include wrestling, chasing, barking, snarling and growling and even teeth baring and pinning to the ground. Be very watchful for any warning signs and be prepared to recall or distract your dog if either dog appears uncomfortable.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT DOGS ARE SAYING
It is essential that you understand how dogs communicate when introducing new dogs to one another. You need to know when your dog is uncomfortable, scared or irritated so that you can take the appropriate action. Equally you need to be able to read the other dog’s body language to see if the dog is a suitable new playmate!
The majority of dog to dog communication is done by body language. Observe your dog and other dogs and recognise how they behave when scared, or when likely to be confrontational. Look out for tucked tails or low bodies, and raised hackles and slightly bared teeth.
Dogs are far more observant than we are of body language, and often a dog may be warning another dog with very subtle lip curls which you would normally never notice. Trust your dogs instinct if he or she seems uncomfortable around a particular dog.