How can I tell if my dog is comfortable around a new dog?
In your dog’s lifetime, there will be many opportunities for him to meet other dogs; vets, parks, friend’s dogs and even new dogs added to the family. A good dog meeting should have all dogs relaxed. They should sniff rear ends first. If they are comfortable, then they sniff faces. Many dogs don’t like it when a dog comes to sniff their face first and might correct this behavior by snarling, growling or snapping at the “rude” dog. Some dogs may stiffen up when first greeting and that can be totally normal. Know what your dog is comfortable with and be able to recognize his body language. If the meeting is not going well it may be necessary to separate the dogs and try again when both animals are relaxed.
What does a good dog meeting look like?
You should know your dog better than anyone else. You should be able to tell when your dog is comfortable and is not comfortable around a new dog. For instance, when Truffle the Maniac meets a new dog his hackles stand up and the ears will sometimes go back. To most dog owners this could be a sign of an aggressive dog. However, if you look closely the tail is still very relaxed and he is sniffing the other dog like a good dog. Some dogs just say hi to other dogs differently than other dogs. Just like people. There are some that go in for a hug as soon as they meet you and others will just nod their head at you. Doesn’t mean you don’t meet that person, you just respond accordingly.
Do we have to meet dogs?
Did you know that you are not required to meet every single dog? If you do not think your dog wants to say hi to another dog, just don’t do it. Practice saying “No thank you” to meeting dogs. In fact, it can actually be better for you and your dog if you do not do leash greetings. If you do not know the other dog, do not know their socialization and their history, do not say hi! Dogs are so different and unique that a friendly looking dog can become aggressive in what seems like a split second. Avoid this by simply not saying hi to other dogs. It is best for dogs to be in a neutral place off leash to really have a good time with meeting new friends.
The 3-Second Rule
If you do decide to meet a dog on a leash, only allow for about 3 seconds of sniffing before you call your dog out. Literally, count in your head 1 sniff, 2 sniff, 3 sniff –> all done! Call your dog out of the meeting. Even the friendliest dogs can meet another dog that they just do not like and don’t get along with. You do not want to give two strange dogs a chance to get entangled in leashes and then decide they have had enough of each other and start a fight.