Tips for Introducing Two Adult Dogs
Allowing two dogs to meet for the first time can be a nerve racking situation, especially for a new dog owner or someone who is unfamiliar with proper socialization techniques. Interactions between adult dogs can be more unpredictable than those between an adult and puppy or between two puppies because of the canine societal structure, which dictates that each canine is dominant or subordinate to the other. A number of factors affect the feelings of dominance or subordinance of an adult dog. Problems arise when two dogs feel they both are “alpha,” which can stem from a number of variables discussed below.
Never introduce in another dog’s territory Always begin introductions on neutral ground, such as in a nearby park or on a wide bicycle path. Adult dogs can become territorial around their house or yard, and may immediately see the new dog as an intruder. This assumption can lead to unnecessary acts of aggression or dominance, which will surely dampen the meet and greet.
Do not let two dogs sniff face-to-face When two dogs meet in passing, such as when out on a walk, it can be tempting for each owner to hold his dog back while the two sniff each other’s noses. This greeting is unnatural for dogs, and can lead to either dog feeling his personal space is threatened while simultaneously feeling trapped. Instead, encourage dogs to meet by allowing them to first sniff each other’s rear end. Dogs can communicate chemically via a special organ in their nose, called Jacobon’s organ, which sends information from chemical secretions (such as those from the anal gland) directly to the brain for processing. A butt-sniffing session can tell a dog everything that he needs to know, including the other dog’s sex and emotional state.
Be aware of your emotions Try to avoid feeling any anxiety about letting your dog meet a potential new friend, as your dog will pick up on your emotions. Even subtle cues, such as tightening your grip on the leash or letting out a sigh can indicate to your dog that you are stressed and cause him to subsequently feel the need to protect you. Exuding confidence during an introduction will help your dog feel comfortable and content in a new situation.
Understand canine body language Dogs communicate in a number of ways, including chemically, vocally, and through body language. Only continue an introduction if both dogs appear calm, which will be indicated by relaxed body posture, low tail, and equal weight distribution on all four paws. If the dogs wish to play, one or both may bow with their front legs flat to the ground and haunches to sky or even playfully paw at each other. A dog that does not wish to continue the introduction will stand stiffly with fur, ears, and tail erect. This dog may also snarl, lunge, or bark uncontrollably. If this situation occurs, remove the dog to another location and try the introduction again at a later date.