Meeting New Dogs At the Park

Your Furry Friend, Meeting New Dogs!

Does your dog get excited when he encounters new dogs? Just as it’s important to train your dog about how to interact with other humans, you need to help your furry friend know how to react when he encounters other puppies, be that at the dog park or just walking around the neighborhood. Here are some guidelines to help you along your way!

The lyrics are true: it’s a small world. Unless you live in a deeply rural area with no other homes for miles around, the chances that you will meet other, “strange” dogs are pretty high. You want your encounters to be civil and controlled, so the early walks, while your dog is still a puppy, will be important for setting the ground rules for walking and meeting behavior. A proactive approach is the best approach, so that you can guide your dog through the proper responses and behaviors in a controlled setting.

Dos and Don’ts  

Both verbal and physical (body language) cues are important when meeting new dogs and their people. Try not to allow your body to tense up, and do not suddenly tighten your grip on your dog’s leash. Your dog will get the message that something is wrong and will respond accordingly. If you respond in a hesitant or fearful way at the approach of another dog, your dog may also react fearfully, or even aggressively, toward the new arrival.

There are some justified circumstances for not wanting to interact with another dog, and this is why it is so important to keep your dog on a leash at all times. Whether your concern is due to the other dog’s appearance or to its owner’s appearance (they appear threatening), because you know from previous experience that your dog gets skittish around strange dogs, or any other reason you have for not wanting an interaction, just calmly change your direction to one that is opposite to the path of the other dog. Continue to walk at a normal, steady pace, keeping your dog on a short leash, and your dog should follow.
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Are The Other Dogs Friendly?

Before you jump into encouraging your dog to get to know the other pup you’ve encountered, take a good look and make sure the situation is safe for your dog. Remember, he takes his cues from you! This is particularly important when you are training a puppy. Here are some other tips about safely interacting with new dogs you encounter in life.

Gaining control when encountering other dogs

Before you rush up to every dog you see, stop and ask yourself whether the dog is friendly and the people are open to greeting. If you think they are, get control of your puppy to ensure the interaction goes smoothly. Do not approach dogs who are barking, jumping, or out of control.

Before approaching a well-mannered dog, gain control of the situation by following these steps:

If your puppy acts excited, bring her “Back” and encourage her to “Wait.”

Ask the person to wait until your puppy has calmed down to approach you.

After you have your puppy under control, you can permit a greeting by saying “Okay, go play.”

When playtime is over, instruct your puppy to “Follow” and move on.

Use rewards and praise to encourage her to leave the other dog and focus on you.

Keep working on it. Getting your puppy in control around new dogs can take a while.

Enjoying puppy play dates

If your friend or neighbor has a dog-friendly dog or another puppy and you want to get the dogs together to play, try to organize a first meeting at a neutral location such as an empty playground or field (doing so prevents territorial reactions). When possible, give both dogs freedom to interact on a long line, because choking up on a short leash can prompt containment aggression.
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How does your dog react to other animals?

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