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The Doggy Diaries:

By Lezle Stein

Dogs that have been properly introduced can learn to relax around each other.

Start the dogs at a comfortable distance first, and use high-value treats to get them to focus on you.
Parallel leash-walking, on neutral territory with two handlers and high value treats, is the best way to introduce dogs. Neutral territory means an area where neither dog resides. A neutral territory is best to avoid territorial behavior in either dog. Both dogs should be wearing properly fitted collars and be on nylon or leather leashes. Prong collars, choke chains, and Flexi-leads should not be used when introducing dogs.

High-value treats can be pieces of chicken, hot dog or cheese, anything that will get the dog’s attention and that it doesn’t get normally. Start by walking the two dogs on leash in the same direction in neutral territory. If you find that they pull toward each other, stare at each other or are overly excited, then you’re too close too soon. Put some distance between the dogs, and have them sit & relax at that distance or more space if needed before continuing to walk. Use your treats to reward your dog for remaining calm and focusing on you.Remember the watch me! This gives them something to do while they get used to each other’s presence. Be patient and relax( no tension on the leash!) so the dogs can relax too. As the dogs begin calming down in each others’ presence, begin to move them closer to each other as you walk. You are emulating their natural greeting: they are not face to face. Instead, they are showing the sides of their bodies to each other while walking.
Allow the dogs to curve around in a natural manner. “Calming Signals” written by Turrid Rugaas it is an excellent book about this. It’s for sale in my bookstore on my web-site.

If the dogs appear to be friendly and relaxed toward each other, allow brief sniffing with one dog perpendicular or “T-shaped” to the other, and then each dog should be called back towards the the handlers and offer a reward and a yes!. If either dog stiffens, stands up on its toes, or shows any aggressive posturing, call the dogs away immediately and interrupt the interaction. It is important to interrupt before things go wrong so that you can preserve the possibility of a successful interaction at a later time. It might be necessary to take several walks, in different locations, over time.

Do not rush this process if the introductions seem ‘iffy’ in any way. Stop the introduction if either dog is showing signs of fear or aggression. Body language that indicates fear or aggression can include:hard stares, raised hackles, stiff posturing, lip curling, growling, air snapping, tail tucked between legs, one dog avoiding the other or wanting to hide behind the handler, lunging, or freezing.
What you’re looking for is calm, relaxed and confident behavior. Neither dog should be overly aroused, nervous, stiff, or fearful. (If the dogs don’t seem to be able to relax and be friendly, it might be best to contact a trainer to help you move forward.ME!)
Remember, some dogs don’t like the company of other dogs and they should never be forced into a greeting. Some dogs may need more time or a few more intros to get used to another dog.

If the dogs remain relaxed and pleasantly interested in each other, one or both of them may gesture to play. Keep the leashes loose and let them interact on leash for a bit to make sure all goes well. As long as both dogs are still relaxed and showing loose, happy body language, you can drop the leashes and let them play while dragging their leashes in an enclosed area.
Watch the play for a while to be sure everyone is minding their manners: no rude behavior or pushy type of mounting behavior allowed initially. Every few minutes, before the dogs reach a state of high arousal or over-excitement, stop the play and get the dogs re-focused on you, calm again or walk them. Then let the play resume. End the play on a good note; don’t let them play into crankiness.

That’s it!
I’m also going to offer a follow up class on this topic, so please check our scheduled classes and sign up for our newsletter to get up to date information regarding tips, and our services.
Stay tuned and both you and your dogs stay cool!


Lezle SteinComment