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How to Introduce Your Puppy to Another Dog

It’s time to revive your pup’s boring and repetitive days with some wild adventures and a little dog-on-dog interaction. If you want your pup to mingle the right way, here are some crucial key points when introducing them to other hounds.

how to introduce your dog to another dog

It’s time to revive your pup’s boring and repetitive days with some wild adventures and a little dog-on-dog interaction. Socializing your dog through puppyhood and adolescence is one of the best ways to ensure that they become a friendly and confident adult. If you want your pup to mingle the right way, here are some crucial key points when introducing them to other hounds. 

Why is socialization important for your puppy

Dogs in the wild grow up in packs and they are socialized almost from birth. A dog becomes socialized by interacting with other canines and learning their verbal cues and body language. The boundaries in the pack are very clear and each pup learns to understand their elders or get thrown out. Domestic dogs also begin socialization in their litter and when they come into a human family, socialization with humans begins. 

During their first three months of life, puppies are going through a socialization period that will permanently shape their future personality and the way they react to their environment as adult dogs. The greatest window of learning in a dog’s life starts around 3 weeks of age and closes between 16 – 20 weeks. This period allows puppies to be exposed to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, and sensations without becoming fearful. 

Playing with other pooches helps their development, enables them to understand other dogs’ body language, and teaches them the right and wrong reactions. Positive experiences at an early age will prepare your pup to cope better when encountering dogs while keeping them calm and confident. Puppies who miss out on these experiences may never learn to be comfortable around unfamiliar things, paving the way for anxiety, fear, and aggression later on in life. 

Meeting with a variety of dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages will help your puppy’s mental, emotional, and physical development

The key to a successful interaction

The key to a positive and successful interaction is familiarity and experience. Try to expose your dog to as many positive experiences, with as many different people, places, and animals. But simple exposure is not enough. Make sure those encountering experiences are positive and remember that the best socialization ‘window’ is when your pup is somewhere between 3-12 weeks. 

meeting another dog

What can affect socialization?

Different puppies have different traits and tempers – some are easy to socialize while others may require a bit more effort. 

These parameters will affect the quality of interaction: 

  • Genetics: what the puppy has inherited from their parents plays a major part in determining whether it would be a positive or a negative encounter (e.g. nervous mums are more likely to have nervous puppies)
  • Breed: puppies from herding breeds, such as collies and German shepherds, tend to be more fearful and need an earlier as well as longer socialization period. 
  • Age: older puppies that missed out on a lot of early experiences, might be having harder times adjusting to stranger dogs. 
Herding breed puppies, such as collies and German shepherds, tend to be more fearful and need an earlier as well as longer socialization period

Tips for socializing your puppy with other dogs

Treats, treats, and more treats

Most dogs will do anything for a treat, so it’s handy to have a stash of these to keep your dog on track and make them behave properly. Every time your dog has a successful interaction with another dog, give ’em a treat! It will encourage positive social behavior.

Take Your Dog Out to Observe Other Dogs

Go to a dog park but don’t go in. Allow your dog to watch the other pups and observe their behavior. Every time a dog comes near the fence, give your dog a treat. This creates a positive association with other dogs. If your dog reacts aggressively towards the dogs in the park, move further away and slowly move up until they’re quiet. Always check out their current mood and see if they’re ready for some playdates later on. 

Be sensitive

Make sure interactions are long enough to get acquainted, but not too long as to wear your buddy out and make them notice some annoying and less appealing traits in their new buddy.  

Be cautious

Always make sure the other party is friendly before encouraging a meet and sniff time. Get to know the signs of discomfort expressed by your dog (excessive panting, yawning, tail between the legs) and act accordingly.

What Not to Do During the Meet Up

Be on the lookout for the following:

  • Never hold your pup in your hands, no matter how scared both of you are
  • Don’t use toys that belong to the other dog 
  • Never push them to their limit or force them into interacting with each other as it may backfire on you. Let them meet naturally.  
  • Don’t let the big boy/girl bully the tiny puppy

And remember: practice makes perfect. The more successful interactions your dog will have with other dogs, the easier it will get.


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