Two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel meeting

Canine etiquette can be a complicated thing and never is it more complex than in the event of a first meeting.

Just like us humans, dogs have to size each other up before they know where they stand. Unlike us, a bad start is far more likely to end up in the deployment of teeth and a strong jaw to make a point.

Fortunately, the majority of domestic dogs are able to get along with whoever they meet and much of that is down to the signals they get from their owners. If you’re relaxed when your pet meets a stranger, they are far more likely to be as well.

If you’re out and about there’s a good chance you’ll be in neutral territory, meaning neither dog has a point to prove about who rules the roost. But if a dog greeting is happening for the first time at one of their homes or perhaps a regular place where they walk and play, that can change the dynamic.

There’s also a different scenario if you find yourself introducing a new dog to your family when there is already an incumbent who considers you and your nearest and dearest to be their pack and the house and garden to be marked territory.

Be prepared

Fortunately there’s plenty of good advice no further than a search engine away and you can reduce the risk of anything going wrong by having the right “tools” of the dog owning trade to hand before your four-legged friend goes into a situation they might find stressful.

The basics are:

  • Be cautious, but don’t be nervous. If you’re unsure how your dog will react on meeting another they will pick that up straight away, creating a bad atmosphere right from the start.
  • Allow dogs to “say hello” in their usual way, by sniffing each other. If they go eyeball to eyeball straight away, that’s a bad sign because both will see it as a threat and if one isn’t prepared to be subservient it isn’t going to end well.
  • Be free with praise when they react calmly to each other so that they know they did well and everyone is pleased.
  • Use a strong but comfortable method of restraint all the time, such as a harness which gives you good control and doesn’t cause them discomfort if they lurch against it.
  • Keep some treats handy to reinforce the good behaviour.

Take a look at these sites for more advice and specific detail on making doggy introductions:

Being prepared for all eventualities when dogs meet for the first time could make all the difference to how they feel about each other for the rest of their lives, so you owe it to them to get it right.

Dog greeting might need careful management
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